After Woodard’s death, dean’s office marches on

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Photo by Yale Daily News.

Two weeks after the passing of Calhoun College Dean Leslie Woodard, administrators are beginning to discuss the appointment of an acting dean to replace Woodard for the remainder of the academic year.

Though there is currently no deadline for the appointment, Yale College Dean Mary Miller said she and Calhoun Master Jonathan Holloway GRD ’95 will sit down early this week to formulate a timeline for the search process and selection. A committee, chaired by Holloway and composed of Calhoun fellows and students, will soon be convened to conduct the search, Miller said.

“When you have to replace a dean quickly, you act quickly,” Miller said.

Still, Miller said the immediate goal is to select a temporary dean. A permanent dean will not be chosen yet because some candidates for the deanship may be locked into a full-time job that they cannot leave in the middle of year, she said.

The search for a Calhoun dean raises the total number of imminent searches for new residential college deans at Yale to three. Both Silliman College Dean Hugh Flick and Timothy Dwight College Dean John Loge ’66 will leave their posts at the end of this academic year.

Holloway, who also announced in late September that he will be stepping down as Calhoun master in June, said in an email to the News that Woodard’s passing has not altered his decision.

Holloway said that currently, three administrators are sharing the responsibilities of the Calhoun deanship: Yale College Dean of Academic Affairs Mark Schenker, formerly the dean of Branford, along with Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs George Levesque and Paul McKinley DRA ’96, respectively the former deans of Berkeley and Saybrook colleges. This “platoon of three former residential college deans,” as Miller calls them, has rotated through the Calhoun dean’s office in the past two weeks to provide academic support.

While Holloway said these administrators will be able to bear the weight of Woodard’s former duties through the fall term, he added that “the students will need a full time dean as soon as is reasonable.”

As early as Oct. 14, the night of Woodard’s passing, Holloway sent an email to Calhoun students announcing that Schenker and Levesque would be staffing the dean’s office.

Miller said that Schenker is uniquely qualified to fill in for Woodard at this time because his regular position as a so-called “dean of deans” entails providing training for residential college deans.

McKinley, who currently serves as Yale College Director of Strategic Communications, said that having backgrounds as residential college deans has allowed him, Schenker and Levesque to smoothly transition into the Calhoun office. All residential college deans receive the same training, and that training can ably translate to students in any of the colleges, he said.

“Any student can go talk to a dean and can know that she or he is going to get the same kind of support that’s available to students at any of the other colleges,” McKinley said, adding that dean’s duties are more standardized than those of residential college masters.

All three substitutes have remained academic advisors in their respective colleges, Miller said.

The resilience of Yale’s residential college structure is such that “the system continues to work, even as it has to go on without Dean Woodard,” Miller said. When Dean Loge was injured after being hit by a car three years ago, the other residential college deans provided similar support to the TD dean’s office, she said.

“Everyone has a full time job, but when there is an emergency of this sort, people step up and support the college,” Miller said.

Leslie Woodard was 53 years old when she died unexpectedly on Oct. 14 at her home in Calhoun.

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