Dean search waiting on Corporation

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Photo by Jacob Geiger.

Students and faculty anticipating the announcement of the new Yale College and Graduate School deans should not hold their breath.

University President Peter Salovey is unlikely to name the advisory committee that will recommend candidates for the deanships until around mid-March, said Yale College Dean Mary Miller. The deans themselves, who will be selected by Salovey and the Yale Corporation, will be named sometime before the end of the term.

Though past dean searches have varied in length, one of the reasons for the months-long search timeline for Miller’s and Graduate School Dean Thomas Pollard’s successors is that the Yale Corporation must first make a decision on whether to overhaul the structure of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. In a report last week, a six-person ad-hoc faculty committee on decanal structures proposed the creation of a new dean of faculty position. The Yale Corporation — a group of 16 individuals including Salovey — will decide on the issue some time after their next meeting on Feb. 21 and 22.

According to senior adviser to the President Martha Highsmith, the Corporation needs to vote on whether to add the position of a faculty dean because it would involve altering the Corporation bylaws.

“I think it’s definitely worth considering, but we’re going to talk about it among other things at the upcoming corporation meeting,” Yale Corporation member Douglas Warner III ’68 said. “So I’m going to defer judgment until I hear the views from the president, the provost and others and then see where we come out.”

Though the faculty will be able to voice their opinions about the potential structures at a Thursday Yale College faculty meeting, the decision will not come to a vote before the faculty. Douglas and his colleagues on the Corporation will have the last word about the structures.

Still, while compiling its report in November and December, the ad-hoc committee on decanal structures maintained an email account dedicated to receiving faculty opinions about adding a third dean. The account, according to the report, received over 25 emails from faculty.

Highsmith said Salovey first informed the Yale Corporation of the formation of the ad hoc committee on decanal structures last term. She added that Salovey plans to wait for more input from the Yale faculty before further engaging with the Corporation on the matter.

“The president will consider feedback and comment from the faculty before he reaches conclusions about the structure or discusses any changes with the Corporation,” Highsmith said.

Still, Warner said Salovey has spoken with members of the Corporation about the potential changes “on a number of occasions.”

Corporation member Neal Keny-Guyer said he had not yet examined the report or determined an opinion on the issue, though he added that he has been away for the past three weeks in Africa.

Whether the Corporation’s involvement in the interdependent processes of changing Yale’s decanal structures and replacing the College and Graduate School dean will continue past the vote on decanal structures, though, is yet to be seen. During the selection of Miller in 2008, the Corporation gave then-University President Richard Levin authorization to decide on the appointment himself.

When asked whether the Corporation would act similarly this year, Miller said she did not know.

“There’s an important committee of the Corporation known as educational policy committee, and I’d assume they’d be very engaged with both [the decanal structure and dean selection],” Miller said. “But I could be wrong.”

Once the Corporation reaches a decision on the decanal structures, the committee Salovey appoints will make recommendations for all of the deanships. Highsmith said Salovey has yet to determine the makeup of the committee.

Salovey told the News last week that he hopes members of the committee will speak to students.

When the selection process for the new University president began in 2012, students groups — notably the progressive organization Students Unite Now — protested the minimal student engagement with the committee formed to advise the Yale Corporation on the choice of a new university leader.

On Tuesday, though, members of SUN interviewed did not have plans to advocate for greater student representation in the dean searches in the immediate future. Although SUN member Avani Mehta ’15 said she hopes the dean selection process is transparent and involves student input, she did not describe any currently formulated plans to engage on the issue.

“I haven’t had a chance to look at how the selection process is going to work yet,” SUN member Alex Lew ’15 said.

Miller was appointed as Yale College Dean in 2008.

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