University to add Dean of Faculty of Arts and Sciences

This article has been updated to reflect the version published in print on Feb. 28. 

In the first major change to its administrative structure in half a century, Yale will add a new dean to the highest echelon of the administration. 

In an email to faculty and students in Yale College and the Graduate School Thursday afternoon, University President Peter Salovey announced the creation of a new administrative position — dean of the faculty of arts and sciences (FAS) — which will shift some responsibilities away from the other two deans. The new dean will work alongside the Yale College and Graduate School deans and report directly to the University provost beginning in July 2014.

The new dean will oversee appointments, promotions and the budget for the faculty of arts and sciences, which makes up 43 percent of the University’s tenured faculty.

“This will continue the tradition of having organizational structures at Yale that reinforce the centrality of Yale College and the Graduate School,” Salovey said. Adding the third dean position allows the two existing dean positions to center more on academic affairs, he said, especially on curriculums and the quality of student experiences.

Salovey said the new dean should come with strong academic credentials, but also exemplify the characteristics of a successful administrator — thinking strategically, working well in a team and approaching issues with a long-term vision.

The Yale Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, discussed and approved the position at this weekend’s meeting.

According to Salovey, the addition of the FAS dean does not technically require a change in the Corporation’s bylaws. Still, he said, he expects to present a bylaw change to the Corporation before July 1 for “present reference and historical reference of how we were thinking about this position.”

The decision to add a third dean comes in the wake of a Jan. 27 report from a faculty committee that reported the current responsibilities of the University Provost and Yale College Dean as untenable. The committee proposed four different faculty governance models that reworked senior administrators’ existing responsibilities. According to committee chair John Dovidio, the committee preferred the first model, which bears close similarity to the structure announced Thursday.

While University Provost Benjamin Polak admitted that adding a new FAS dean would alter his responsibilities, he said he is excited about the change. A FAS dean position that handles the FAS budget will free the provost’s office to consider larger University-wide issues, he said.

“It will change the role of the Provost’s office considerably,” Polak said, adding that he sees the changes as “healthy.”

University Vice President for Strategic and Global Affairs Linda Lorimer, who worked in the provost’s office in the early 1980s, said the responsibilities of the provost have remained the same in recent decades while the size and complexity of the University have quadrupled.

Faculty appointments and promotions, until now, fell under the joint purview of the Yale College and Graduate School deans. In recent years, the position of Yale College Dean became particularly unmanageable, the committee noted.

Yale College Dean Mary Miller — who will step down from her role on June 30 — said she spends 40 to 50 percent of her time entirely devoted to dealing with faculty appointments and promotions.

Polak said this change in the structure of the senior administration will allow the new Yale College Dean to focus more on making undergraduate education the best it can be.

In its report, the faculty committee suggested placing the offices of the three deans in close proximity to encourage collaboration. Salovey said Thursday that the physical location and administrative staffing for the new FAS dean are yet to be determined.

“We are mindful of the desire not to create new bureaucracies and to try to accomplish the staffing of the new office through a reorganization and redeployment of, for the most part, existing individuals working in the provost’s or other dean’s offices,” Salovey said.

Polak said the full details of the new administrative structure have not been finalized.

In his Thursday email, Salovey named a committee of 15 individuals who will provide him with recommendations on candidates for the new post.

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