Gendler appointed deputy provost

Tamar Gendler, former chair of the Philosophy Department, steps into her new role as deputy provost for the humanities and initiatives today.
Tamar Gendler, former chair of the Philosophy Department, steps into her new role as deputy provost for the humanities and initiatives today. Photo by Philipp Arndt.

Philosophy Department Chair Tamar Gendler will join the Provost’s Office today in the newly created role of deputy provost for the humanities and initiatives.

Gendler will hold her new position for one year, during which she will collaborate with Emily Bakemeier, deputy provost for the arts and humanities, and will also serve as a point person for any “special initiatives” that the University undertakes during Yale President Peter Salovey’s first year at the helm of the University. Though Gendler’s new position is a one-year, part-time role that will allow her to continue her research and teaching, Gendler said philosophy professor Stephen Darwall has taken over the chairmanship of the Philosophy Department as of this morning.

“I am very grateful to [Gendler] for her willingness to contribute her perspective and energy to our office in this year of transition and of major steps forward for the University,” Provost Benjamin Polak said in a memo to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences on Friday.

Gendler said the creation of an additional position within the Provost’s Office was the result of conversations between Polak and over 50 professors in the humanities over the past several months. The combined arts and humanities portfolio was too large for any single person to manage, she said. Though Bakemeier, who has overseen the arts and humanities since 2009, said she and Gendler have yet to confirm how they will share responsibilities, she said she is “thrilled” to be working alongside Gendler in sharing the humanities portfolio.

Gendler’s arrival in the Provost’s Office will allow Bakemeier to devote more time to the arts, while giving more manpower to the humanities, Bakemeier said.

Describing the humanities as “one of the jewels of Yale,” Gendler said she is looking forward to thinking about the ways in which humanities fields can remain strong at Yale, even as the University builds its resources in other areas.

In addition to overseeing the humanities, Gendler — who holds professorships in philosophy, psychology, cognitive science and humanities — said she hopes to be a point person for ideas that students, faculty and staff have about improving the University.

“There’s a new administration with Salovey at the helm and Polak in the provost’s seat, and the campus has been rife with ideas and suggestions by students, faculty and staff,” she said. “There’s never been somebody who’s a point person to help turn innovation and creative thoughts into actual University policy and practice, and what I hope I can do is be a collecting board for exciting ideas from around the campus and think about the ways that those can work synergistically with one another and be realized.”

Gendler said she did not want to commit to being deputy provost for more than one year because she loves the “trio of responsibilities” she has had since 2010: teaching, conducting research and serving as chair of the Philosophy Department. She said she wanted to reserve the option of going back to those responsibilities if she does not find her new position similarly fulfilling.

Professors interviewed said they were pleased with the appointment and added that Gendler’s enthusiasm, intellect and experience as a department chair make her well-suited to this new role.

“[Gendler] will bring tremendous energy to this position,” Darwall said. “She has good ideas and an impressive breadth of intellectual interests and vision.”

Gendler has been an “excellent” chair of the Philosophy Department, said Kenneth Winkler, philosophy professor and director of undergraduate studies. He added that he is sorry to see Gendler vacate the chairmanship, but he said he is “delighted that her wisdom and energy, and her commitment to interdisciplinary initiatives, will be serving the wider cause of the humanities at Yale.”

Polak did not respond to requests for comment.

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