Salovey to become College dean

Yale Graduate School Dean Peter Salovey GRD ’86 will be named the new dean of Yale College at a ceremony at Beinecke Rare Book Library at 4:30 p.m. today, several Graduate School officials said this afternoon.

History Department Chairman Jon Butler will succeed Salovey as new dean of the Graduate School, one Graduate School administrator said.

Salovey said he could not comment before Yale President Richard Levin’s announcement, but announced the turnover in a closed-door meeting with Graduate School administrators and staff at 2 p.m. today.

“He’ll make an excellent dean, no doubt,” a Graduate School administrative assistant who was present at the meeting said.

When asked about the announcement in multiple interviews this morning, Butler declined to comment on his appointment.

Levin has been searching for a new dean since December, when current Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead ’68 GRD ’72 announced he would assume the presidency of Duke University in July.

Yale historian and former Corporation member Gaddis Smith said there is no modern precedent for moving an administrator from the Graduate School deanship to the Yale College deanship.

“I cannot think of such a move,” Smith said. “That is a first. But the dean of the Graduate School has been a good launching pad for the presidency and the Provost’s Office.”

Salovey, who is in his mid-40s, has served as Graduate School dean since last January, when he replaced Susan Hockfield, who is now Yale’s Provost. He chaired the Psychology Department from 2001-2003.

“There are very few places where one can interact with the caliber of students at Yale,” Salovey, who received a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University in 1980, told the News last month.

History professor John Gaddis, who sat on of the dean search committee with 10 other faculty members, said he thinks Salovey would make a strong dean of Yale College.

“The fact is that Peter Salovey is a brilliant, charismatic administrator who has been a big success in the Graduate School deanship in just one year,” Gaddis said. “I have no doubt that he’ll be a great success in the undergraduate deanship as well.”

Butler, 63, came to Yale in 1985 and received his Ph.D. and a bachelor’s degree University of Minnesota. He served as chair of the American Studies Program for five years and in 1998 became chair of the History Department.

“Jon Butler has been a brilliant chair,” Gaddis said. “There has been that same tendency that we’ve seen with Brodhead, being able to command enthusiasm and support on an extraordinary scale. The history chairmanship is a commanding job — it’s the biggest department on campus — and Jon has been superb in every respect.”

Last week, the dean search committee met with Levin to give its final recommendations.

The committee recommended Salovey, Butler, Harvard History professor Nancy Cott and Astronomy Department Chairman Charles Bailyn, according to Betts and one professor who was privy to the committee’s confidential recommendations.

Salovey, Butler and Bailyn served on the Committee on Yale College Education, which last spring produced Yale’s first comprehensive undergraduate academic review in 30 years.

When reached at his home this morning, Butler, 63, declined to comment on Levin’s imminent announcement.

Yale Corporation Senior Fellow Roland Betts ’68 declined this morning to name Brodhead’s successor but said he is “excited” about Levin’s choice.

History Department Chairman Jon Butler will become Graduate School dean.
Courtesy OPA
History Department Chairman Jon Butler will become Graduate School dean.

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