Two female professors are approved for tenure

Two of the three associate Yale professors who received approval for tenure last month are women in the Astronomy and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology departments, bringing the University one step closer to its goal of bolstering the ranks of tenured female professors in the sciences.

Astronomy professor Sarbani Basu, EEB professor Anne Yoder and History of Art professor Timothy Barringer received approval for tenure from the Joint Boards of Permanent Officers at a meeting Dec. 15. The meeting is considered to be the last hurdle in Yale’s complex tenure process. Hiring from within is always a positive development for the University, Yale College Dean Peter Salovey said.

“It’s always gratifying when someone who’s already at Yale, when their scholarship and teaching is making such an impact that they can [receive tenure],” Salovey said. “The fact that two are women in the sciences is especially gratifying, because we want and need more role models for our students.”

Basu, who already has accepted the University’s tenure offer and will become a full tenured professor July 1, is the first female professor to be granted tenure from within the Astronomy department, said Astronomy chair Charles Bailyn. Basu has received international recognition for her work in the field of helioseismology, in which light wave oscillations are used to study the composition of the sun, he said.

“Her major contribution to science has been to figure out what the temperature, pressure and chemical composition is at precise points in the sun,” Bailyn said. “It’s a huge, very active field right now.”

Basu’s appointment will ensure Yale’s leadership in stellar physics continues, he said.

The EEB department began the tenure review process early for Yoder, who joined Yale’s faculty in 2001, after learning she was being pursued by Duke University, EEB chair Stephen Stearns said. The department, along with the senior appointments committee, was unanimous in their support of Yoder, he said.

Yoder, who is renowned among evolutionary biologists for her research involving mouse lemurs in Madagascar, has used DNA molecules to date stages of evolution with more precision than prior methods allowed, Stearns said. Although Yoder said she has enjoyed working in a department with such a large supply of “brainpower,” she has not yet accepted the University’s offer.

“I am certainly inclined to stay here,” Yoder said. “It’s an exciting place, with a very invigorating intellectual environment.”

Barringer, who started teaching in the History of Art department in July 1998, has helped attract top British art graduate students and has elevated the seriousness of British art, History of Art chair Edward Cooke said.

“He has been very influential in shifting the focus of British art from the 17th and 18th centuries to the late 19th century,” Cooke said. “One can only admire his energy and commitment to students.”

Barringer, who is currently on sabbatical as a scholar at the Getty Research Institute in California, has accepted the University’s tenure offer. He said his extensive collaboration with Yale’s Center for British Art was one of his primary reasons for wanting to stay at Yale.

“Yale has the best resources outside of Britain,” Barringer said. “Teaching at Yale is such an enjoyable experience because of the intelligence, creativity and energy of the students.”

All three professors agreed that the announcement that they had received tenure relieved a lot of pressure.

“My first reaction was just of relief in the sense that the problem with not having tenure is that the pressure on research is very high,” Basu said. “I love teaching. Now I can spend a lot more time on teaching.”

Prof. Sarbani Basu recently received tenure in the Astronomy department. The approval of tenure for Basu and Anne Yoder, marks a positive step toward more tenured female professors in the sciences.
Courtesy SarbaniBasu
Prof. Sarbani Basu recently received tenure in the Astronomy department. The approval of tenure for Basu and Anne Yoder, marks a positive step toward more tenured female professors in the sciences.

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