New Grad School dean to improve communication

Responding to rapid changes in technology, the Graduate School has appointed a new dean to oversee communications.

This September, Robin Ladouceur GRD ’04, was appointed to an assistant deanship in the Graduate School, a position that was created to strengthen and streamline communications within the school, Graduate School Dean Tom Pollard said. Pamela Schirmeister, associate dean for Yale College and the Graduate School, said the evolution of communications technology has led Yale and other universities to create more communications-related jobs.

With four years of experience in Yale’s Instructional Technology Group, which provides technological support to Yale faculty, Ladouceur will oversee all Graduate School communications, including social networking, emails and the newsletter.

“This job is a really exciting opportunity to come back to the Graduate School after taking a non-academic career track and incorporate what I learned back into academics,” Ladouceur said.

In her new position, Ladouceur said she hopes to use student and faculty input to determine new and more effective channels of communication within the Graduate School. She added that her experience working in technology and her relationships with former colleagues will keep her “up-to-date” on cutting-edge applications and help her be flexible in a constantly changing field.

Pollard said Graduate School communications must be “upgraded” to broaden their reach to students, faculty and alumni, adding that the school currently lacks a social media presence.

“I want to figure out what are the best ways to communicate,” Ladouceur said. “Is it email, is it social networking or is it something else, and what can we be doing in this new age?”

The Graduate School relies largely on email, which Schirmeister said may not be the best way to disseminate information and foster open dialogue. She added that Graduate School administrators are often older than students and, as a result, may not know the best way to communicate with the student body. Ladouceur said she is currently expanding the Graduate School’s social networking presence by revamping its Twitter page, adding that she is looking to explore communications via Facebook in the near future.

Paul McKinley DRA ’96, who was named the Yale College Director of Strategic Communications last year, said his position, like Ladouceur’s, was created because the College did not previously have an individual charged with overseeing all communications. He added that while both he and Ladouceur are still adjusting to their new positions, he expects to work with the new dean in the future on facilitating University-wide communication strategy.

Both McKinley and Ladouceur said they meet with their colleagues at the University’s Office of Public Affairs and Communications and in the professional schools to discuss their current projects and exchange communication strategies each week.

Ladouceur graduated from Yale with a Ph.D. in Slavic languages and literature.


  • Boogs

    Good grief. Administration at the Grad School has now entered the domain of self-parody. Next, they’ll need an assistant dean to manage tablet computer apps and an assistant dean to oversee foresight of fads in need of new assistant dean oversight. I pray to the gods that Pollards miserable time is up as ueber-dean after this year…

    • ldffly

      Right. Every week, a new assistant dean. How did they survive without all of them?

  • attila

    Surely the simpler way to improve communication would be to have a Dean who does not sneer at the entire faculty and graduate student body?

  • Quals

    “Ladouceur graduated from Yale with a Ph.D. in Slavic languages and literature.”

    This is the real reason why this position was created. This should be the first line, not the last.

  • gradstudent16


    Nah, Attila’s comment above applies as well to Slavic as to anything; the grad school is only too happy to beat the hell out of Slavic as a department and a field, and let its grad students slowly trickle out of academia. This hire is because they’d rather pay someone $100k to bark propaganda at the grad students than pay five actual grad students to finish their dissertations.

  • Claire

    Another example of Yale being administratively top heavy. Evidently, Yale has plenty of money to pay for Deans, Associate Deans and Assistant Deans to no end, but it can’t provide decent raises for its low and middle level management, who aren’t protected by the union contract. And to add insult to injury, low and middle level management have had annual sick time reduced and have had annual paid time off (which used to consist of both personal and vacation time) lumped into one pile and reduced. And it’s just so interesting that we pay the ridiculous amount of money for parking that we do and we’ve had our shuttle that carried us safely to our buildings from our parking lots cancelled (“budget cuts”). So…where does all that parking money go? (It’s not an insignificant amount for employees.) Snow plowing only costs so much and I can guarantee you that the lot I’m in is not maintained in any way other than snow removal. I just see so many places around campus where money is spent on ridiculous things (ANOTHER dean??) or funds seem to get collected (parking fees) but nobody knows where the money goes. And the party line is that the low and middle management have to accept the cuts to our benefits and to our merit raises (raises which are laughably lower than the raises our union counterparts get [and good for them – I’m not begrudging them anything]) because of the bad economy. Yale just hired a DEAN to manage a Twitter account and to “explore” Facebook! REALLY…? I’m pretty sure the University could hire an undergraduate to do that on a part-time basis.

    • ldffly

      If I had the money, I’d offer the university an endowment to cover the salaries and benefits of people in your position. My gut tells me they’d turn the idea down.

      • Yalie

        That would have to be a *big* gift. As in billions big.

  • cincinnatus

    And here in a microcosm is why American education is becoming so expensive — a bureaucracy that continuously spawns to fill unnecessary niches…

  • jj123

    Oh, for heaven’s sake, *no one* is going to read a Grad School twitter feed. People barely read the newsletters and email digests as it is. The grad school could use a lot of improvements, but a better social media presence isn’t close to one of them.

  • The Anti-Yale

    The bureaucracy grows because professionalism shrinks and the dishonor code flourishes:
    No one trusts professionals any more and administrators are hired to double check everything and invent CYA scenarios and intransigent-equivocation-sound-bytes for all occasions.

    This has something to do with a culture in which
    politicians are adulterers,
    priests are child abusers,
    journalists are liars,
    athletes are cheaters,
    lawyers are merchants,
    doctors are assembly-line service providers,
    food is tainted and
    water is polluted.

    And we wonder why people numb themselves out with drugs?

    We have made our own hell by trivializing professionalism.