Former Yale Deputy Provost Pierre Hohenberg, who stepped down from his administrative post last July to teach theoretical physics courses at the University, will leave Yale at the end of the semester to become senior vice provost for research at New York University, NYU announced Tuesday.
Hohenberg will be the first person to fill the post at NYU. He will be responsible for the units of the university that support research, working on their structure and administration, supporting faculty initiatives and promoting interdisciplinary research, he said. Before stepping down last July, he had served as deputy provost for science and technology for eight years.
“I found my nine years at Yale to be wonderfully stimulating, a great team of people to work with,” Hohenberg said. “I leave Yale with wonderful memories.”
He said a major reason behind the move is personal. During his time at Yale, Hohenberg’s family has lived in New York City while he has worked in New Haven, so he has been “sort of living in two places,” he said.
Hohenberg is both a “world class” physicist and a skillful administrator, Yale Physics Department Chairman Ramamurti Shankar said. Shankar said as a scientist Hohenberg has “won every big award except the Nobel Prize, which he narrowly missed.”
This semester, Hohenberg is teaching a graduate level course in the Engineering and Applied Science and Physics Departments called “Special Topics in Condensed Matter Physics: Nonequilibrium Dynamics and Pattern Formation.”
As Deputy Provost, Hohenberg helped fund start-up packages for young researchers at the University. These packages are critical to attracting the country’s top minds, Shankar said. He said in Hohenberg’s nine years, the Physics Department did not lose any of those researchers over funding issues, as far as he remembers.
“I’m very sorry I won’t have Pierre to trade verbal barbs with,” Shankar said. “Overall I think the place will be a lot duller, that’s for sure.”
NYU Physics Department Chairman Allen Mincer said because of Hohenberg’s background in physics, he should understand the nuances of research issues. Mincer said fostering interdisciplinary research will benefit all of the university’s departments.
Not having a position specifically tailored to coordinating research at the university, which receives over $300 million yearly in research funding, has been “keenly felt,” NYU President John Sexton said in a press release.
“To be able to fill it with someone of Pierre Hohenberg’s caliber and experience is a source of great pride to us,” Sexton said. “It is a validation of all that we have been doing, and as we make important investments in research, and in scientific research in particular, his wisdom and guidance will be of enormous benefit.”
Yale Deputy Provost Charles Long, who said NYU’s decision was “a great appointment both for them and for [Hohenberg],” said Hohenberg had wanted to focus more on research funding while he was deputy provost. Hohenberg said in his administrative capacities at Yale, he had a broad portfolio that included many of his new duties at NYU, but he also was responsible for half of the departments in the University’s faculty of arts and sciences.
“I felt that one person couldn’t do justice to all of that,” Hohenberg said.
Hohenberg said when he stepped down from the post he was actually looking forward to teaching, but he could not pass up NYU’s offer.
“There are pluses and minuses, but the pluses outweigh the minuses,” Hohenberg said.