Graduate School Dean Peter Salovey GRD ’86 will become the new dean of Yale College, Yale President Richard Levin announced at a ceremony in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Tuesday afternoon.
History Department Chairman Jon Butler will succeed Salovey as the dean of the Graduate School, Levin said. Both administrators will begin their new positions on July 1, when current Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead ’68 GRD ’72 assumes the presidency of Duke University.
“Both of the [new] deans are extraordinary people,” Levin told the News. “Peter Salovey has an exceptional warmth and approachability. I have every confidence that he will be exceptional. Jon Butler is an extremely thoughtful person who values the life of the mind and the scholarly enterprise.”
At the ceremony, Salovey said he was humbled by his appointment.
“I am flattered and honored to be asked to serve as the next dean of Yale College,” Salovey said in his speech. “But let me just say that being asked to lead a college that dates to 1701 is a bit sobering.”
In remarks at the ceremony, Butler likened the mission of the Graduate School to the “mission of the life of the mind.”
“In a way that is inescapable, in a way that is pure and must be preserved, Yale provides extraordinary resources to allow this [mission] to happen,” Butler said. “But the main resource we have is human. It’s our students, it’s our marvelous staff, it’s our faculty — in short, it’s ourselves.”
Brodhead said Salovey and Butler will work together in a team effort in their new positions.
“These two people will be able to form a team in an altogether new way,” Brodhead said. “Peter will be dean of the college, but he knows the Graduate School backward and forward. Jon will be dean of the Graduate School, but he’s been a devoted undergraduate teacher.”
Salovey, 46, joined the Yale faculty in 1986. He has served as dean of the Graduate School since last January, when he replaced current Yale Provost Susan Hockfield after she assumed her new position. Salovey, one of the developers of the “emotional intelligence” psychological framework, chaired the Psychology Department from 2001-2003.
History professor John Gaddis, who sat on the dean search committee with 10 other faculty members, said Salovey’s rapport with students will make him a strong undergraduate dean.
“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.”
A historian of American religion, Butler, 63, joined the Yale faculty in 1985. He served as chair of the American Studies Program for five years and in 1998 became chairman of the History Department, Yale’s largest department.
Butler said he is looking forward to the challenges ahead.
“I’m going to have to do a lot of learning,” Butler told the News. “I am going to have to be a student of the Graduate School.”
Gaddis said Butler has been a “brilliant” department chair, “superb in every respect.”
“[Butler has demonstrated] that same tendency that we’ve seen with Brodhead — being able to command enthusiasm and support on an extraordinary scale,” Gaddis said.
Salovey and Butler have been active participants of the Committee on Yale College Education, which completed a comprehensive undergraduate curricular review last spring.
“I think we’re in a very exciting time,” Yale Corporation member Janet Yellen GRD ’71 said. “We’ve had a major curricular report. Everyone in the community is excited about where Yale is going. A major responsibility of the new dean is to try to move things along and make things happen.”
Levin has been searching for a new dean since December, when Brodhead announced he would depart Yale after 40 years at the University, 11 of which he spent as dean.
Over the next few months, Brodhead, Salovey and Butler will work together to transition smoothly into their new roles, Levin said.