Yale World Fellows Program Director Daniel Esty and Latin American Studies Council chairman Gilbert Joseph have emerged, professors said, as Yale President Richard Levin’s top candidates to lead the Yale Center for International and Area Studies.

Levin said Thursday he “most definitely” has not decided who will succeed retiring YCIAS Director Gustav Ranis but expects he will name a new director after one to two more weeks of deliberation.

Ranis said Thursday he has heard Esty and Joseph mentioned as top candidates for the directorship.

Levin said he has consulted many YCIAS-affiliated professors about the new director search. He said he met with Joseph Thursday afternoon.

European Studies director David Cameron said Joseph is a likely choice for director.

“I’ve talked with people who [are] involved with YCIAS, and he’s clearly one of the people whose at the top and is an obvious candidate,” Cameron, a political science professor, said.

Esty said Thursday he thinks it is premature to think Levin is prepared to make the appointment. He declined to comment on his potential candidacy.

“I think [YCIAS] remains an important part of the broader effort to globalize Yale, and President Levin’s vision in this regard is very exciting,” Esty said.

Two professors who asked to remain anonymous said Thursday that the faculty is split between Esty and Joseph.

“The faculty’s divided between Esty and Joseph, and a certain number of people on the faculty have struck a deal with Joseph and they’re backing him and there’s another group of the faculty that’s backing Esty,” one professor said. “It’s about 50-50.”

The professor called the division “a matter of style and philosophy.”

Many professors said they think Esty, who holds appointments in the Law School and the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, would bring interdisciplinary appeal to YCIAS. They also said they think Joseph’s work expanding YCIAS’s Latin American Studies Council and fundraising experience would make him a strong director.

One professor affiliated with YCIAS said he thinks Thursday’s meeting between Levin and Joseph “could be the start of a few meetings.” The professor said he thinks Levin will also meet with Esty before announcing the new director.

“YCIAS is one of the crown jewels of the University, and it’s going to be certainly important for YCIAS to have a strong leadership and be in step with Levin if Levin’s going to achieve his dream of making this an international University,” the professor said. “He’s looking for a partner he can do business with.”

The professor said Esty and Joseph have “repeatedly” come up as the two most likely candidates to replace Ranis.

Ranis said Levin is considering making an appointment “very soon.”

“Presumably it’s coming close to closure, but I don’t think it’s going to be [announced] tomorrow,” Ranis said.