Pomeranz: New dean, and bandleader?

Andrew Mangino, we hardly knew thee.

Empowered as I have been by the Oldest College Daily’s outgoing board — “Pomeranz” was, quite literally, the last word they ever wrote — I must reflect on the editors of the News: Who are they? Take Tom Kaplan, the new editor in chief. I think he lives in the room I lived in last year. I’m pretty sure I once saw him at a party. Maybe it was when I moved out my sofa. Who is this guy?

This guy is our editor in chief. I say “our” not as a staffer — I’m a staff columnist and, my pretensions aside, I don’t do much in the Briton Hadden building but get in the way every other week — I say “our” as a Yalie. We may know Tom Kaplan the way we know Mary Miller — we’ve seen his name in the News — but, with all due respect to (fellow Sillimander) Yale College Council President Rich Tao, Mr. Kaplan is the closest we students have to a single voice.

We presently will ululate at the ascension of Dean Salovey as he walks down Grove to his new digs in Warner House (across the street from Silliman College, which not only is home to the YCC president and the News’ editor in chief, but also will be the physical center of campus when our 13th and 14th colleges are built). We students loved Dean Salovey, and, if I dare say so, he seemed to love us back.

(Keep calling him Dean Salovey. I asked. It’s OK.)

The undergraduate deanship at Yale is really two positions in one. Our dean both hires faculty and directs the marching band at football games. The student-oriented responsibilities of the dean are a holdover from Yale’s finishing-school days. The students at a school of 5,000 — soon to be 6,000 — shouldn’t know the dean. But most of us know Dean Salovey. And even if we don’t get to know Acting Dean Gordon — a real shame — we will have time to get to know Dean Miller.

The tension in the dean’s job is terrific. She must bridge the two constituencies unrepresented by Woodbridge Hall. As one of the formal bosses of the faculty and the informal voice of the students, Dean Miller will have all eyes upon her no matter what she does.

Now she may do nothing. And nothing may be the right thing to do. Many Yale-watchers attribute the campus’ recent happy days to President Levin’s silence on virtually every issue. Certainly he has succeeded at turning Yale into the best college in America, and certainly he has kept a lower profile than some of his predecessors. Maybe a low profile is what Yale College needs in these economically depressed and geographically expanding times.

But nothing comes in many forms. Here’s a story about Dean Salovey: When he was in graduate school at Yale, his fellow graduate students elected him their president. He then talked members of the administration into eating with him regularly in Lords (the section in the back of Commons once occupied by grad students and now by homeless ’Hounies).

I’m not sure that Rich Tao — for whom I’ve voted every time I could, I think — is our undergraduate representative more than Tom Kaplan. But I’d sure like it if the new administration would meet with undergraduates regularly. Maybe even in Commons. And if Tao too is engaged in the crucial business of registering Yalies to vote and Kaplan is figuring out what his coup will be — Mangino revolutionized the layout of the News to universal acclaim, so I figure that Kaplan will need to print front-page photos that look different when you wear 3-D glasses, or maybe get the YDN distributed on the moon — then I will substitute for the both of them, and I’ll report back. So (former) Dean Salovey, (acting) Dean Gordon, (future) Dean Miller, will you have lunch with me? I’d like to talk about Yale College. We’ll invite my fellow Yalies to join us, if you don’t mind. And if we run out of things to talk about, maybe we’ll consider how best to direct the Yale Precision Marching Band.

Michael Pomeranz is a senior in Silliman College.

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