As Graduate School Dean Peter Salovey prepares to assume the deanship of Yale College, the most significant aspect of his agenda will be a commitment to the issues addressed in the 2003 undergraduate curricular review, he said Wednesday.
As dean, Salovey said he hopes to improve Yale’s science course offerings for non-science majors and expand study abroad programs in an effort to further internationalize the University.
“In a way, the lucky thing for me is that we have a vision for Yale College that in some ways is a collective one,” Salovey said. “I was on the Committee on Yale College Education and very much support the vision of Yale College that’s articulated in that report. I very much embrace it as mine.”
Salovey pledged to work closely with incoming Graduate School Dean Jon Butler in implementing educational policies that will benefit both graduate and undergraduate students.
“I look forward to this as a time when we can create policy and create an educational vision where the two groups on campus don’t have to be pitted against each other,” Salovey said, noting that much of Yale’s faculty is shared between both schools.
Salovey and Butler will work together in “an altogether new way,” departing Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead said last month.
“Each of them will know his own territory, but each of them will know each other’s territory and they’ll be able to work with the highest level of cooperation,” said Brodhead, who will assume the Duke University presidency in July.
Salovey stressed the importance of offering creative quantitative undergraduate courses that appeal to all students.
“We know how to turn a Yalie into a history major and that’s great,” Salovey said. “[But] I think we should be as exciting to freshmen in quantitative courses and science courses in the future as we are currently in the humanities and the social sciences.”
With international education likely to play a major role in his deanship, Salovey said he wants Yalies to become not only leaders in the United States, but also leaders of the world.
“We’ve been a little bit slow to recognize the value of international experiences,” Salovey said.
He said he hopes to expand study abroad options by creating partnerships with foreign “sister schools.” This would allow Yale to control students’ study abroad experiences, thus ensuring their quality, he said.
“Like many things, there’s a right way to do that and a wrong way to do that,” Salovey said. “‘Islands’ of [American students] in other places are not the same as a real international experience.”
Associate Yale College Dean Penelope Laurans said she thinks undergraduates’ feelings about study abroad are already changing.
“Partly it’s faculty members encouraging students to do so, and partly it’s a greater conscious of the importance of having an international experience,” Laurans said. “It’s all a part of a larger jigsaw puzzle in the University.”
Salovey said he wants the college to offer more freshmen seminars — a move recommended in last year’s curricular report.
“It’s always very hard in an academic culture to specify rules for faculty, but what we can do is create a culture where there’s an expectation that each faculty member would teach a freshman seminar,” Salovey said.
With respect to student life, Salovey said he hopes to reassert and reaffirm Yale’s values of diversity and tolerance.
Salovey even entertained the notion of restoring the annual bladderball game on Old Campus, a tradition the administration cut short in 1982 after a rash of vandalism and injuries.
“I’ve seen pictures of old bladderball, and let’s just say this — if we can do bladderball like that without hurting someone, we should do that,” Salovey said. “We look for opportunities to do things that bring the campus together.”