It is not surprising that Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Peter Salovey’s name has generated considerable discussion as a candidate for Yale College dean — his students and colleagues have dubbed him a consummate overachiever.
In addition to serving as dean, Salovey is the Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology and holds three other professorships at the University. He is a world-famous psychologist who helped pioneer the idea of emotional I.Q. He has completed three master’s degrees in addition to his doctorate. And he also serves as deputy director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS and director of the Health, Emotion and Behavior Laboratory at Yale, among numerous other academic posts.
Yet Salovey is characteristically modest about his ability to balance all these commitments.
“The thing that allows [my academic] juggling to be most efficient is that I work with great people,” he said. “It’s a terrific group of associate deans, directors and support staff.”
After graduating from Stanford in 1980, Salovey came to Yale for graduate school and never left. He met his wife, Marta, during a meeting of the Graduate and Professional Student Senate, for which both were representatives.
“I’m very happy here, and my wife is very happy here,” Salovey said. “It would be very difficult to replace the quality of colleagues I have — [and] there are very few places where one can interact with the caliber of students at Yale.”
Salovey completed his Ph.D. in 1986 and began teaching the same year. Since then, he has filled leadership positions in psychology: he served for six years as director of graduate studies and for two and a half years as department chairman.
During this time, Salovey distinguished himself with undergraduates for his “engaging,” “animated” style of teaching, especially in the “Introduction to Psychology” course he taught, Julia Holleman ’05 said.
He has been recognized for his teaching ability with the William Clyde DeVane Medal and the Lex Hixon Prize.
“I loved the class,” Tiffany Hunt ’04 said. “He was very enthusiastic. It was dry material, but he managed to add a spark to it. And even though it was a big class, he paid a lot of attention to individual students. He takes time to meet people and really listen to what they have to say.”
Psychology professor Woo-kyoung Ahn said these qualities make Salovey an excellent candidate for Yale College dean.
“He was a great teacher to begin with, so he knows how to think from a student’s perspective,” Ahn said. “He’s very sensitive to their needs. He’s also very organized, very on top of everything. And he’s very good with people.”
Salovey declined to speculate about the selection process for dean, but he said he is content with his current position.
“The job I have now I really love,” Salovey said. “It’s so all-consuming that to be honest I really haven’t given any thought to doing anything else.”
[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”18406″ ]