Salovey forms dean search advisory committee

On Thursday, University President Salovey announced the membership of a committee that will advise him on the selection of individuals to fill the three top dean positions.

Salovey will look to the 15-member committee, chaired by Berkeley Master Marvin Chun and composed of 13 faculty members and two students, as he chooses the next Yale College and Graduate School deans as well as the newly-created dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Salovey emphasized the committee’s purely advisory role, noting that he will have ultimate say in the appointments. He said he expects the committee to provide him with multiple candidates for each position, rather than a single choice.

The committee includes faculty members from across the University’s departments who have had dramatically different lengths of service at Yale.

“I asked the provost, deans [for suggestions for committee members] and also reviewed suggestions made by faculty to me, primarily by email,” Salovey said. “We attempted to craft a committee that was broadly representative of the FAS faculty, but also of the College and the Graduate School.”

Graduate Student Assembly Chair Brian Dunican GRD ’15, a member of the committee, said the membership of the group was “certainly not a predictable selection.” Dunican added that the GSA will hold a town hall for graduate students to voice their own recommendations to him.

Yale College Council President Danny Avraham ’15, who will also sit on the committee, said he will reach out to student groups and hold open office hours to ensure he has a comprehensive and diverse perspective of students’ opinions to present to the committee.

The committee will include a non-ladder faculty member, a Medical School faculty member, an undergraduate student and a graduate student, in addition to traditional ladder faculty in the arts and sciences.

Senior public health researcher Gisella Caccone GRD ’86 said that to her knowledge, her appointment to the committee marks the first time a member of the research faculty, rather than ladder faculty, has been included in such a committee.

The addition of two students — who were chosen by the Yale College Council and Graduate Student Assembly, respectively — is also a significant change from previous searches, when students did not have a seat at the table.

Five of the 12 faculty members come from the natural sciences, with four from the humanities and four from the social sciences.

The committee includes Thomas Appelquist, a former Graduate School dean who has been at Yale since 1976. But it also includes sociology professor Nicholas Christakis ’84, who arrived at Yale from Harvard only last year.

Several of the members have substantial previous experience on University committees. Classics professor Emily Greenwood, for instance, sat on the faculty committee that recommended the creation of a dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. East Asian Languages and Literatures Department Chair Tina Lu served on the grading committee and molecular biophysics and biochemistry professor Enrique De La Cruz served on the University steering committee.

Chun said that for the time being, his main priority is to gather input from faculty, staff, student and alumni.

Yale College Dean Mary Miller stressed that the committee will have to search for not just three quality administrators, but three administrators who can work together as a team to pioneer the University’s transition to a new governance model.

“Most of the candidates for either position will have a degree of interchangeability,” said Chemical Engineering professor Gary Haller, who chaired the advisory committee when Miller was selected in 2008. “But considering them together will make it possible to seek two complementary persons that might have particular strengths for one or the other of the deanships and to recommend them so that together they will also be knowledgeable across most disciplines.”

In addition to the membership of the advisory committee, Salovey’s email included a link to a website where members of the University community can submit suggestions for what they hope to see in the three deans.

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