Bottomly to leave for Wellesley presidency

In the latest in a string of departures from the Yale Provost’s Office to presidencies elsewhere, Deputy Provost Kim Bottomly will become president of Wellesley College, the college announced Thursday.

Bottomly, the deputy provost for science, technology and faculty development, will become the 13th president of the liberal arts college on Aug. 1. Bottomly, who was appointed to her current position in 2005, was instrumental in spearheading the University’s faculty diversity initiative, Yale administrators said.

Victoria Herget, the chair of The Wellesley College Board of Trustees and a member of the Presidential Search Committee, said the group singled Bottomly out for her academic credentials and leadership experience. She said the school is currently at a “hugely successful point” in its development and that Bottomly was identified as someone whose administrative skill could help carry the university into the future.

“I think our expectation is that she will be a superb 13th president for Wellesley and that she brings the perfect combination of skills,” Herget said.

Herget said that while Bottomly’s specific academic discipline was not as important to the committee as her general appreciation of the liberal arts, she will be a role model for women at Wellesley who want to pursue careers in the sciences. Bottomly is an immunobiologist who maintained a laboratory at the Yale School of Medicine while working in the Provost’s Office.

As deputy provost, Bottomly has been responsible for implementing the University’s faculty diversity initiative, announced in November 2005. Under the plan, Yale will add 30 new women and 30 new minority faculty members within seven years.

Deputy Provost Charles Long said he hopes Bottomly’s departure will not pose a setback to the initiative, but that the office will have to work hard to find someone to fill the open position as soon as possible.

Yale President Richard Levin said Bottomly’s responsibilities may be split between two individuals, making it easier to fill both positions.

“It so happened we paired the science position with faculty development to fit Kim [Bottomly]’s particular interests,” he said. “We will need to find a way of serving both needs within the Provost’s Office. That might involve recruiting one person and rearranging responsibilities or two people.”

But physics professor Meg Urry said Bottomly’s departure is a loss to the initiative as well as to all of Yale.

“I think the University is certainly committed to faculty diversity, but in the end someone has to carry it through and have the energy to make it happen,” she said.

Bottomly is the latest woman to leave the Provost’s Office to run another university, in what has become something of a trend of late. The last three provosts — all of whom were women — have all gone on to head top institutions elsewhere. Former Provost Judith Rodin left Yale in 1994 to become president of the University of Pennsylvania, Alison Richard left in late 2002 to run Cambridge University, and Susan Hockfield became president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2004.

Long said he could not recall another time when a deputy provost left directly for a presidency. But he said the deputy provost’s responsibilities overlap with those of the provost, so the kind of experience gained in the position is similar.

“[Provost] is a key administrative post at the University,” he said. “If you’ve been provost at Yale, you will have learned most of what you need to know to be a president. Deputy provosts do an awful lot of what provosts do.”

Bottomly could not be reached for comment Thursday.

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