History professor Jonathan Holloway GRD ’95 was named the next master of Calhoun College at dinner on Thursday night and will assume the position for a five-year term beginning on July 1.
Yale President Richard Levin announced to a standing-room only crowd in the Calhoun dining hall that Holloway, who has tenured appointments in the History, African-American Studies and American Studies departments, will replace outgoing Master William Sledge, who is stepping down after 10 years leading the college.
Holloway is currently finishing a year of absence from Yale as a fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center in Palo Alto, Calif., but came to New Haven for Thursday’s announcement and expressed great enthusiasm about embarking on this new chapter of his life.
“I never imagined being offered a position like this,” Holloway said. “It’s incredibly exciting. It seems like an endlessly interesting job.”
Levin said he is “thrilled” that Holloway accepted his offer.
“He’s a terrific person and he has a real sense of Yale as a whole and what it represents,” Levin said.
Holloway’s high school sweetheart-turned-wife, Aisling Colon — a former singer, actor, model and event planner at the software company Oracle — will assume the role of associate master. Colon, who earned a bachelor’s degree in English at Georgetown University, said she hopes to use her experience planning events at Oracle to coordinate master’s teas for the college.
The master’s house will be especially crowded next year, as the Holloways have two children — Emerson, who is almost five, and Ellison, who is almost two — and two dogs, a shepherd mix named Tyssie and a lab mix named Malasada. Colon said she was excited for her children to grow up in a university atmosphere, but is nervous about her dogs taking over the master’s house.
Holloway’s academic work has been focused on post-emancipation American history. He has published numerous essays and several books concerning 20th century African-American history and is currently working on his next book, which will be titled, “Jim Crow Wisdom: Memory, Identity and Politics in Black America, 1941-2000.”
“His commitment to both his intellectual life and his family life is extraordinary,” Yale College Dean Peter Salovey, who was present at the announcement, said. “He is a wonderful scholar and an incredibly warm person.”
As a high schooler in Potomac, Md., Holloway was an All-American football player and was recruited to play outside linebacker at Stanford.
“He should definitely be able to help your intramural teams,” Levin joked to the crowd.
After graduating from Stanford in 1989, Holloway came to Yale to study history and earn his Ph.D. He taught at the University of California at San Diego for four years before returning to Yale as an assistant professor in 1999. He received tenure last year.
Sledge, who received a standing ovation from the Calhoun community at the announcement, conveyed his enthusiasm about the selection of Holloway.
“I’m extremely excited by the choice,” Sledge said. “It’s hard to imagine it being much better. He’s young, he’s got vision and imagination, and he’s committed to the University and the community.”
Holloway addressed the college’s namesake, John Calhoun, a Yale graduate who was a South Carolina slave owner.
“Because of the special name of the family the college is named after, for me, as someone who specializes in African-American history, I can really do something pedagogically,” Holloway said.
The selection was made by a committee of eight that included five Calhoun students and was chaired by history professor Glenda Gilmore, who also specializes in post-emancipation American history. The committee presented a number of candidates to Levin, who then made his selection.
Calhoun students responded favorably to Holloway’s visible energy.
“This is an exciting new era for Calhoun,” said Lauren Thompson ’05, a Calhoun freshman counselor. “The spirit and magic of the Calhoun masters will live on.”
Calhoun College Council President Jeffrey Shackelton ’05, a member of the selection committee, also expressed his pleasure with the choice.
“Calhoun is really fortunate,” he said. “We’re all incredibly excited about the arrival of the master and his family. They’re going to be great for Calhoun.”
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