Faculty members of the search committee for a new undergraduate dean met with Yale President Richard Levin Monday afternoon to offer their final recommendations for a successor to departing Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead.
In a ranked short list, the committee recommended Graduate School Dean Peter Salovey, History Department Chairman Jon Butler, Harvard History professor Nancy Cott, and Astronomy Department Chairman Charles Bailyn, said one professor who is privy to the committee’s recommendation.
“The committee presented the candidates in the above order and as expected, either Salovey or Butler was the top pick,” the professor said in an e-mail. “Levin said that the top two were on his list as well and that he has been going back and forth between Salovey and Butler.”
Levin declined to comment on the meeting and said he continues to expect to appoint a new dean within the next three weeks.
“The committee gives me a group of names and I like to talk to each committee member about their own personal [recommendations],” Levin said Monday night.
Levin has said in multiple interviews that he would likely tap a Yale professor, and Cott’s nomination comes as a surprise to the faculty, the professor said.
Cott left Yale for Harvard in 2002 after 27 years teaching at Yale. She is a former chairwoman of Yale’s Women’s Studies — now Women’s and Gender Studies — and American Studies programs and held a Sterling Professorship, Yale’s highest honor.
Cott was the first woman to teach a course on U.S. women’s history at Wheaton College, Clark University and Wellesley College in the early 1970s. She now directs the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at Harvard.
Levin said Monday night that his focus is “definitely internal,” but he would not rule out tapping an outside candidate.
The professor, who asked to remain anonymous, said there is “a very strong presumption” that the next dean will come from within the Yale community.
“I actually got a chance to look at a nominations list and there were a few people that had recommended an outside candidate,” the professor said. “[But] Salovey is most people’s top candidate.”
Levin reserves the right to select as dean a candidate not recommended by the search committee.
Comparative Literature professor Michael Holquist said the search committee members have not openly discussed their recommendations with the faculty.
“I think the committee has been quite responsible in not discussing its deliberations, but nevertheless there has been a very strong rumor that Peter Salovey has been recommended as the next dean,” Holquist said.
Several search committee members declined to comment Monday night on the meeting with Levin.
Theater Studies and English professor Joseph Roach, the search committee’s chairman, said last week he was pleased with the search process thus far.
“We’ve collected their views on all our finalists [and] are thick with the reports of students — the ones that came into the president’s office on e-mail and the ones that came into the [YaleStation] Web site,” Roach said. “It’s really an honor to be at a place with so much talent. We’ve considered every nomination that we’ve received and that would be a considerable number. All told, there would be over 50.”