Yale officials are seeking applicants for a dean of freshman affairs to begin work this fall in a newly-formed administrative position devoted exclusively to first-year undergraduates.
The position, which was recommended by the Committee on Yale College Education in its 2003 academic review, will involve the coordination of pre-orientation activities, the freshman counselor program, and academic advising, as well as expanding the freshman seminar program that was launched this year.
The freshman dean will oversee both social and academic affairs and will work out of the Yale College Dean’s Office, reporting to Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg and Dean of Academic Affairs Mark Schenker.
“The idea is that by creating a new position within the Yale College Dean’s Office that combines all freshman programs, both academic and social services, there will be a synergy about freshman year,” Schenker said.
The creation of the position will bring Yale in line with universities such as Stanford and Harvard, which also have a freshman dean. Stanford Dean of Freshmen Julie Lythcott-Haims wrote in an e-mail that her role is a challenge, but its importance to the freshman class is unmistakable.
“A person in a position such as mine and the one Yale has just created needs to collaborate with colleagues across the university,” Lythcott-Haims wrote. “Cutting across various departments and programs to focus specifically on the needs of freshmen can require some thinking outside the box, but I have found it to be very rewarding, and we know it is beneficial to our freshmen.”
Yale placed an advertisement this month in the Chronicle of Higher Education, an academic trade publication, soliciting applications for the freshmen deanship. The ad stipulated that successful candidates will have a Ph.D. and four years of administrative experience, including a background in teaching and advising undergraduates on academic and residential life matters.
The various responsibilities of the job have been spread out among several administrators. Davenport College Dean Peter Quimby has steered the freshman seminar program while Trachtenberg has coordinated the freshman counselor program.
“I simply don’t have the time to do the whole job,” Trachtenberg said. “My area is student affairs and a good portion of the other job will be heavily involved with academic advising.”
First-year undergraduates may benefit from having a dean who can facilitate the operation of all freshman programs, said Dan Grimm ’05, a freshman counselor in Silliman College.
“A Yale dean devoted to freshmen might be able to better orient the various pieces of the freshman experience into a coherent whole, ultimately making the transition of Yale’s incoming students an easier one,” Grimm said.
Yale College Council President Andrew Cedar ’06 said that the new position is a good step towards helping freshmen become acclimated to the University.
“They certainly have freshman counselors and things like that, but I think it would be nice to have some sort of institutional avenue to solicit advice and stuff,” Cedar said.
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