Search for new dean begins

A committee charged with finding a replacement for departing Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg met for the first time on Thursday, discussing criteria for judging candidates and devising a timeline for the search process, Associate Dean of Yale College and committee chair Jane Edwards said.

Committee members scheduled several meetings for the spring, Edwards said, and made tentative plans to begin interviewing candidates by late April so as to make a recommendation to Yale College Dean Peter Salovey by early May. She said the committee will be conducting its search with the aid of Isaacson, Miller, a private firm that helps organizations vet applicants.

Other members of the committee, whom Salovey appointed, include Dean of Undergraduate Education Joseph Gordon, Assistant to the President Nina Glickson, Director of Undergraduate Studies in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies Maria Trumpler, African-American Studies Department chair Robert Stepto, Josh Williams ’08, Alexandra Suich ’08 and one other faculty member yet to be named.

Salovey said familiarity with Yale’s undergraduate life is not a requirement for those applying for the job.

“We tried to find people for the Committee with excellent judgment and who understand some of the issues facing a dean of students,” he said in an e-mail. “We will look for the best possible candidate, whether outside of Yale or within Yale.”

The University is soliciting candidates through advertisements placed in the Chronicle of Higher Education and will accept applications until Jan. 31 or as long as it takes to generate a satisfactory pool, Edwards said. About 40 applications have been submitted so far, she said.

According to a job description posted in the advertisements, the University is looking for someone who can play a “crucial role in promoting the values of diversity and community in a multicultural environment” and who has a “deep understanding of and commitment to the values of an inclusive, residential liberal arts education.”

“We regard this position as really important, both to Yale students and to the institution,” Edwards said. “I would have to say that Dean Trachtenberg is a hard act to follow.”

Among the dean’s responsibilities, the description lists overseeing the deans of the four cultural centers, developing and enforcing policy for over 350 registered student organizations, participating in long-range planning for innovation and expansion in matters of student life, organizing the use of designated performance facilities, and serving on the Sexual Harassment Grievance Board. An advanced degree and minimum six years of “progressively responsible” experience in higher education are also required, the description says.

Suich — who has served with Trachtenberg on the grievance board and worked with her on the Women’s Leadership Initiative — said Trachtenberg’s dedication will inform how Suich looks at candidates.

“I think that everyone is going to be looking for a dean of student affairs who is accessible and eager to work with students,” she said. “That is a quality that Dean Trachtenberg had and something that is imperative.”

Edwards said Isaacson, Miller will be creating a more detailed description of the position that is meant to help the committee sort through the list of names and find candidates to interview.

Trachtenberg announced in November that she would be stepping down at the end of this academic year, after serving 20 years as student affairs dean. Before becoming dean, Trachtenberg served as director of freshman affairs and worked in the Summer Term Office, the Undergraduate Admissions Office and the Eli Whitney Students Program, which oversees students of non-traditional age and background.

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