On the Ground: The search begins

A move just one block down Grove Street may well be a move almost entirely out of the daily lives of the student body — and undergraduates are worried. Yale College Dean Peter Salovey is, after all, one of the most recognizable faces on campus.

What is it, then, that students are hoping for in their new dean, who will be selected over the next month by a search committee of faculty members?

On Cross Campus, freshmen discuss what they value in a dean. The universal answer: someone who cares about students.
Charlie Croom
On Cross Campus, freshmen discuss what they value in a dean. The universal answer: someone who cares about students.

Easy. They want their dean to care about them — like Salovey has, they say.

Salovey’s attendance at athletic events, appearances in the Halloween Show, and, of course, signature moustache, have endeared him to students for the four years he served as dean.

In Bass Library’s Thain Family Café on Thursday, as shopping period picked up speed, students told the News how they think the next dean can fill Salovey’s big — and popular — shoes.

“One thing I liked about Dean Salovey was that if something was to happen, I would be able to talk to him,” said Elaine Sullivan ’10 from one of the cafe’s leather chairs. “I think that it is a good thing to be able to trust the dean of Yale College, the same as a residential-college dean.”

Shaina Wright ’10, who sought refuge from the muggy afternoon in the air-conditioned café, agreed.

“I want someone who is attached to the students like Dean Salovey,” Wright said. “I get upset when the Yale administration ignores student opinions, so the dean needs to be an interface between the students and the administration, a moderating person.”

In an opinion that was echoed by many of her peers, Wright said she wants a dean with the same engaging personality, dedication to students — and, of course, moustache.

Sara Greenberg ’09 and Kristin Smith ’09 sat in front of their computers at a table chatting. Smith said her rewarding interactions with Dean Salovey during her Yale career have set high standards for the new Yale College dean.

“[Dean Salovey] reached out to all groups and students,” Smith explained. “He was at matches with teams, he conducted the Precision Marching Band. The new dean needs to be someone who will connect with the students, who we can come talk to, despite having a busy schedule.”

Greenberg alluded to Dean Salovey’s resemblance to Groucho Marx, one of the brothers in the early 20th-century comedic group the Marx Brothers.The new dean, she quipped, should look like another one of the brothers.

Out on Cross Campus, freshmen who are not all that familiar with Salovey just yet consider what they would value most in a dean. Nicole Negbenebor ’12 said she hopes for a willingness to listen to students’ concerns before making and modifying policy.

“We’re the ones who actually have to experience the changes,” Negbenebor said.

Chelsea Allen ’12 said she agreed but thinks there is a bit more to the job.

“[The new dean] should be someone who is not only accessible, but also enjoys being in student life,” Allen concluded.

And when all else fails, Cat Morris ’12 said, hire Oprah.

“[We need] someone who can unite the student body and make everyone from diverse backgrounds feel comfortable,” she said, “and proud to be at Yale.”

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