Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg will resign her post at the end of the academic year, she said Monday.
The dean said she will leave her position as the administration’s liaison to undergraduates on matters of extracurricular life in order to spend more time relaxing with her family. Trachtenberg has served as Dean of Student Affairs since 1987.
“I’ve been working at this job for 20 years, so it’s time for someone else to take over, and it’s also time for me to read a book without falling asleep,” she said. “I’ll go to New York, I’ll go to the Caribbean, and I’ll even go to the British Art Center, which I don’t have time to do now.”
Yale College Dean Peter Salovey said Trachtenberg has made valuable contributions to the life of College by setting policies on student health and social conduct, encouraging student participation in University governance and advocating on behalf of the Yale Women’s Center and cultural houses. He said Trachtenberg is the “dean of deans” among administrators of student affairs across the country.
Trachtenberg said she tried to encourage communication to resolve undergraduates’ disputes with other students or the administration during her tenure as dean of student affairs.
“Sometimes … the administration doesn’t see eye to eye with students, or vice versa,” she said. “And sometimes through discussion you begin to see the students’ point of view. Sometimes not, and then you hope the students see things through your eyes.”
Of her accomplishments during her 20 years as dean, Trachtenberg said, her revision of the ethnic counseling program is among those of which she is most proud. When Trachtenberg began her current job, Yale had “floating” ethnic counselors who were not affiliated with any particular residential college, she said. Now, ethnic counselors are linked to a residential college.
University President Richard Levin said finding a new dean with Trachtenberg’s level of commitment and interest in students will be difficult.
“Dean Trachtenberg is a Yale treasure,” he said. “Her greatest contributions are very hard to measure, like helping students and families through times of great crisis.”
Trachtenberg began her career at Yale in 1974 in the Summer Term Office. She later worked in the Undergraduate Admissions Office, where she led the Eli Whitney Students Program, which oversees students of non-traditional age and background.
Trachtenberg was appointed director of freshman affairs in 1984, at which point she took control of the freshman counselor and orientation programs — responsibilities she ceded just last year to Dean of Freshman Affairs George Levesque. Trachtenberg was appointed to her current post in 1987.
The Yale College Dean’s Office will soon form a committee to search for Trachtenberg’s replacement, who will likely take over next July, Salovey said.
Trachtenberg said she will not be involved in the search for her replacement, although Salovey said the committee may look to Trachtenberg for guidance and advice. She said she thinks someone already acquainted with Yale College may have an easier time filling her position.
“It very much depends on who the person is and where the person is coming from,” Trachtenberg said. “I’ve been dubbed the Dean of Sex, Drugs, and Rock-and-Roll, and that’s pretty much what I do.”