Dean search process outlined

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Photo by Christopher Peak.

A week after Yale College Dean Mary Miller and Graduate School Dean Thomas Pollard announced their decisions to step down at the end of the year, administrators are in the process of planning the search for their successors.

Within the next few weeks, University President Peter Salovey said he will name an advisory committee to provide recommendations, after seeking input from the broader Yale community, on individuals to fill Miller and Pollard’s shoes. Salovey — whose two recommendations to the Yale Corporation will effectively decide who fills the roles — expects to be able to make an announcement about the deans before the end of the academic term.

“The members of the advisory committee are likely to be individuals with broad perspective on the University, strong academic connections and an appreciation of the complexity of the role for the deans in the present and near future,” said Senior Advisor to the President Martha Highsmith.

Highsmith said although the size and membership of the faculty committee is yet to be determined, it is likely to be between 10 and 12 members.

Salovey said that he hopes there will be a “great deal” of student input during the search process. However, administrators have not confirmed whether there will be students on the committee itself.

“I expect the faculty members on the committee to consult broadly with students,” Salovey said. “They will search for individuals who are committed to students and have an ear for student concerns.”

Students will be invited to suggest potential candidates for the committee’s consideration, as will faculty and other members of the Yale community, Highsmith said. She added that the committee’s deliberations will not be public.

Students gave mixed responses to the current framework for selecting the new deans.

Harry Shamansky ’16 said that although he would like to see students have more input in the decision, interest in attending public forums may be limited.

Gabe Reynoso-Pellay ’16 voiced doubt that the administration would seriously value the opinions of students in the search, undergraduate or graduate, compared to members of the faculty, other members of the administration and the Yale Corporation.

“Perhaps it would be a goodwill gesture for Yale to at least send out a survey to its students,” Reynoso-Pellay said. “Perception is very important in these cases and as the Yale Bluebook Plus incident showed, sometimes Yale College administrators seem oblivious to how their actions are received by the students and how disconnected they occasionally seem.”

The committee’s deliberations could be complicated by the introduction of a third deanship — a dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences — that was proposed in a report on administrative structures released to the faculty earlier this week.

Highsmith said that if Salovey decides to create the new dean position, which would oversee faculty in Yale College and the Graduate School, the advisory committee will also make a recommendation for that position.

Miller and Pollard stepped into their dean’s roles in 2008 and 2010, respectively.

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