Yale President Richard Levin announced Wednesday night that history professor Stuart Schwartz will be the next master of Ezra Stiles College.
Levin’s introduction of Schwarz before a packed Stiles dining hall was followed by Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead’s announcement that Jennifer Wood-Nangombe GRD ’04, a doctoral candidate in African American studies, will serve as the next Stiles dean.
Schwartz’s wife, Spanish professor Maria Jordan, will serve as associate master. The couple will not assume their posts until the fall of 2003, and English professor and former Stiles Master Traugott Lawler will serve as interim master next year.
Schwartz and Jordan already had next year’s sabbatical scheduled when Schwartz was named as a candidate, and Levin said the situation warranted the wait.
“This is the first time we have made this kind of arrangement in my time as president, but professor Schwartz seems so perfectly suited for the role and so excited about doing it that I thought it made sense just to go ahead and commit this mastership to him,” Levin said.
Luis Poza ’04, a member of the master search committee, said the fact that Schwartz and Jordan have to go on leave initially posed potential problems, but said everything seems to have worked out for the best.
“Having Master Lawler back might be a blessing in disguise with the new dean,” Poza said.
Levin called Schwartz “perhaps the most outstanding scholar of Brazilian history” in the world.
Schwartz, whose two children are grown, left the University of Minnesota six years ago to come to Yale. He said that he was very excited with his new position and looked forward to working with current Master Paul Fry as he prepared to take over the mastership. “I look forward to getting to know you all,” Schwartz said to the dining hall audience.
Schwartz and Jordan both said they felt great about assuming their new roles.
“We are just excited by the idea,” Schwartz said. “We just want to get more involved with student life.”
After Schwartz and Levin spoke, Brodhead assumed the floor.
“I’m very competitive,” said Brodhead, to the audience’s laughter. “I have an announcement of my own.”
He said Wood-Nangombe had accepted the offer to become the new Stiles dean only an hour before.
“The committee found her to be very engaging and very dedicated, with a sense of both seriousness and fun,” Brodhead said. “I may be wrong, but she’s the first dean I’ve ever known who grew up in New Haven.”
Wood-Nangombe, who is currently researching the history of African-Americans in New Haven, was also excited about her appointment.
“This is my dream job,” Wood-Nangombe said. “I have a very hard act to follow.”
She will replace Dean Susan Rieger, who has served for the past ten years. Rieger will assume a new position as associate provost for equal opportunities at Columbia University.
Fry has served in the position since 1996. He said as soon as Schwartz was in consideration for the position, the two had several long meetings discussing what was entailed.
Fry said he is delighted Schwartz and Jordan are taking the position, calling the pair “really dynamic”.
“They have a lot of interesting ideas for what to do,” Fry said, who said Schwartz and Jordan plan to coordinate events centered around Latin American culture. “She is a native of Puerto Rico. I’m sure that will make some imprint on the culture of the college.”
Fry said Schwartz’s background fit the mold of Stiles leadership.
“There’s an unbroken tradition of humanists being masters of Ezra Stiles – either literature, classics, religious studies, philosophy, now history,” Fry said. “I think that’s unique to Ezra Stiles.”
Jenny Kowitt ’04 said the reaction of Stiles students seemed to indicate a strong backing of Schwartz.
“Everyone who I’ve talked to seems really enthusiastic,” she said.