Levin taps Hamilton as provost

Yale Deputy Provost for Science and Technology Andrew Hamilton will replace Susan Hockfield as the University’s new provost, Yale President Richard Levin announced Tuesday. The promotion is the third appointment to a top University post in fewer than six months.

Hamilton will assume his post Oct. 18, becoming Yale’s chief academic and financial officer and the University’s second-highest-ranking official. Hockfield will leave later this semester to become president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

At a reception following the announcement ceremony at Luce Hall, Hamilton said he is prepared to take on a broader role in the administration.

“[The appointment] is a step into a position with many more facets than I’m familiar with,” Hamilton said. “My first priority [as provost] will be to listen — to get to know the people in the different parts of the University.”

Hamilton, who will be the only scientist among the University’s top academic administrators, said he is committed to enhancing Yale’s science programs and continuing the University’s major investment in rebuilding Science Hill. He also said he aims to ensure that Yale maintains its “vitality” in the humanities, social sciences and professional schools, and will work to trim Yale’s $15 million budget deficit.

The Yale Corporation, the University’s highest decision-making body, formally approved the selection of Hamilton Monday night in a unanimous vote, Levin said.

Hamilton’s appointment ends weeks of speculation about who would emerge as Hockfield’s successor. Many administrators and professors had expected Levin would appoint someone who shares Hockfield’s background in the sciences.

Hockfield’s departure leaves the University without a woman in the top academic administration. Levin said his one regret in appointing Hamilton was that he could not select a woman to fill the position, but he ultimately concluded that Hamilton was “right for the position.”

“I think he’s well prepared to take on this responsibility,” Levin said. “But more than all these objective credentials are the personal qualities he brings to the job.”

Hamilton said he will strive to add more female and minority professors to the faculty, especially in the science departments.

“I want to hire a faculty that mirrors the diversity of society,” Hamilton said, noting that the University’s appointment of two female assistant professors in the Physics Department earlier this year was a “step in the right direction.”

Levin said he selected Hamilton after conversing with members of the Provost’s Office, department chairs, faculty, and staff, most of whom suggested Hamilton as Hockfield’s replacement. Hamilton said Levin approached him three weeks ago to offer him the position, an offer he accepted after carefully considering the responsibilities that a “job of this magnitude” entails.

“I’m a scientist,” Hamilton said. “I’m very much involved in research, so I wanted to think carefully about the balance of research and [administrative duties].”

Yale Corporation Senior Fellow Roland Betts ’68 said Hamilton’s promotion reflects the University’s depth of qualified administrators.

The appointment caps a year in which Levin filled several high-ranking administrative positions. In December 2003, Levin tapped John Pepper to become vice president of finance and administration. In the spring, Levin appointed then-Graduate School Dean Peter Salovey to become dean of Yale College, and replaced him by appointing former History Department chairman Jon Butler as the new Graduate School dean.

Hockfield, who has served as provost for nearly two years, replaced former Provost Alison Richard in January 2003, when Richard left Yale to lead the University of Cambridge as its vice-chancellor.

Chemistry Department chairman Gary Brudvig said he thinks Hamilton’s affable nature will enable him to communicate effectively with the entire Yale community.

“I think he’s a very approachable guy,” Brudvig said. “It will be quick for him to become well-known in areas of the University where he hasn’t been as widely known yet.”

Erin Pusateri GRD ’07, who has worked with Hamilton in his organic and biological chemistry lab for the past three years, said she thinks Hamilton’s rapport with students will make him an effective provost.

“He’s very encouraging, and he communicates well with students,” Pusateri said. “He seems to have a wealth of knowledge from every aspect, and he’s always willing to learn.”

Hamilton said he expects to name his successor as deputy provost for science and technology within two weeks.

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