Silliman dean to step down

Silliman College Dean Hugh Flick will step down at the end of this school year after more than 20 years of service.
Silliman College Dean Hugh Flick will step down at the end of this school year after more than 20 years of service. Photo by Jacob Geiger.

Silliman College Dean Hugh Flick, who has been a fixture of his college’s community for more than two decades, announced he would step down from his position at the end of the 2013–’14 academic year.

Flick said he will leave his post as dean because he wishes to pursue a new direction with his career after a 26-year tenure. The Silliman dean, who is also a religious studies professor, said he does not know whether he will continue to teach at the University, but that he hopes to remain a part of Yale life.

“It’s my 26th year, and it’s probably time for change,” Flick said. “But I’ll absolutely stay involved — staying involved is the whole point. I want to keep contributing to the [Yale] community in any way I can.”

Flick first arrived on Yale’s campus in 1988, after leaving a teaching post at Harvard as a professor of folklore and mythology. The position of Silliman College dean sparked Flick’s interest because the job carried a teaching appointment as well as the opportunity to interact closely with students.

Though he said he does not know what his next career step will be, Flick said he is considering a variety of fields, including full-time teaching. He will officially step down from his post as dean in June 2014, at which point the new dean — who will be appointed by a Yale College Dean’s Office search committee that has not yet convened — will take over.

Flick said his favorite part of serving as dean was the chance to watch students mature over the course of their four years as they move from freshmen who were “smart but relatively insecure about their abilities” to confident graduates.

Throughout his tenure as dean, Flick has prioritized engaging with his students on a regular basis, Silliman students interviewed said. In addition to wearing ridiculous costumes to Silliman events and hosting dinners with freshman counselors and their students, he has made it a point to interact with different students at dinner every night in the dining hall.

“One of the coolest things about him is that he’s very present,” Nicole De Santis ’15 said. “Almost everyone has had a meal with him at some point. Everyone has some kind of relationship with the dean.”

Even freshmen, who have only known Flick for a month, recalled anecdotes he had shared with them over dinner. During his frequent visits to the dining hall, he has told stories that include his stint in the military, his years as a college prankster and his taste in music. Zein El Azzouni ’17 said she found out at dinner one night that they shared a mutual love of Dire Straits and the Grateful Dead.

El Azzouni also said she was disappointed that she would not share the experience of having him as her dean for all four years. Because he has been at Silliman for over 25 years, he has become a part of the college’s identity, she added.

Flick said he still keeps in touch with alumni and enjoys running into them when they come through New Haven for the Harvard-Yale game each year.

“Dean Flick is a character,” said Wendy Chen ’17. “I guess another person could do his job, but it wouldn’t be the same.”

Flick has also taught in the Religious Studies Department since he arrived on campus, focusing on mythology and Indian literature. His academic interests initially came from the years he spent in Japan and other parts of Asia during his time as an officer in the U.S. Navy from 1968 to 1972.

After Flick’s announcement of his departure, Silliman College Master Judith Krauss said in an email to the Silliman community that celebrations for him will be held in the spring and that students will be involved in planning these events.

During his time as dean, Flick has worked with four different Silliman masters — Krauss, Mary Helen Goldsmith, Sandra Sanneh GRD ’93 and Kelly Brownell.

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