Af-Am dean search discussed

Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry meets with students at the Af-Am House to discuss the search for a new director.
Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry meets with students at the Af-Am House to discuss the search for a new director. Photo by Rachel Wang.

Though students expressed sadness over the departure of Assistant Dean Pamela George from her position as director of the Afro-American Cultural Center after 10 years, they said the search for a replacement has provided an opportunity to build on her legacy.

The Black Student Alliance at Yale hosted an open forum with Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry on Tuesday night at the Af-Am House to advise Gentry on his search for a new director. Gentry began the forum by describing to the 25 students in attendance the search process. Students then voiced their appreciation of George’s role at the house and qualities they would look for in a new director.

Gentry said he hopes to model the interview process after the one he underwent to get his job. Already, 76 people, many of them Yale alumni, have applied for the job since he began advertising the opening in October, he said. Gentry will select 25 applicants for an intensive interview process with members of a search committee of professors and administrators. The committee will select three applicants, and from the three, Yale College Dean Mary Miller will make a final decision. The new director will take office next fall.

“[Being director of the Af-Am House] is a 24-hour job,” Gentry said, “They may never be home, and I hate to say it, but that’s how I want the person to be.”

Gentry spoke highly of George and said that it would be hard to find someone to replace her dedication and involvement in the cultural center’s activities.

Students who attended the event said the new director needed to be able interact and communicate well with students.

“To many of us, [Dean George] has been so much more than a dean,” Timeica Bethel ’11, the president of BSAY, said Monday.

Bethel said Gentry suggested holding an open discussion because he wanted to present student opinions to the administrators and professors on the search committee.

“[It] shows that the administration is considering the student body and our feelings and opinions about this matter,” she said “We wanted to be part of the process and now we have the opportunity.”

Students at the meeting listed general and specific traits they wanted to see in the new director, such as tech savvy (George had been accessible by text message) and the ability to respond to all types of problems. One student pointed to George’s experience with psychology and counseling before taking on the directorship as another way in which she was equipped to help students.

A.T. McWilliams ’12, the vice president of BSAY and a member of the Af-Am House staff, said that the next director should keep the House open as an accessible space for student groups and local organizations.

“Dean George has always made sure that it’s been a resource for the New Haven community,” he added.

Students also said that some of Dean George’s ideas that have not been implemented, such as a summer program for incoming freshmen, should yet come to fruition under the new director.

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