Jeff Brenzel has a lot of applications.
When not sorting through this year’s record 22,528 candidates for admission to Yale College, the dean of undergraduate admissions occupies some of his spare time with quizzes, movie compatibility tests and videos on his crowded Facebook profile.
Facebook connects him to another Yale administrator, Director of Public Affairs Helaine Klasky, who has racked up 14 new friends in the past two weeks, including several current students.
The presence of some cutting-edge professors on Facebook has been well-documented; as the News detailed in October, any Eli can log on to his or her favorite social networking Web site and bite, caress, chest bump, defenestrate, do, give flowers to, grope, high five, hug or hustle Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry professor Bill Summers. But now, it appears that an elite group of Yale’s top administrators have augmented its overflowing Outlook inboxes with Facebook chat.
Klasky was not the only member of Yale’s Office of Public Affairs to set up a Facebook account recently. Among Klasky’s friends is her deputy, Deputy Director of Public Affairs Tom Conroy, whose daily routine generally consists more of responding to requests for comments than friend requests.
Told Tuesday by a reporter that his barren, picture-less profile was “kind of lame,” Conroy immediately logged on and updated his activities to include, among other things, “paddling” and “birding.” Yet he remained without a picture, and with only two friends in the Yale network: his boss, Klasky, and his wife, Yale Law School Director of Public Affairs Janet Conroy.
“My comment on the lameness of my profile is that it is ‘regrettable,’ but I do think it would be ‘excessive’ if someone sued me about it,” Conroy said in a Facebook message.
His own son, he admitted, has not even friended him.
For Brenzel, joining Facebook was a way to prove to his daughter that he was not “behind the times.” But the self-described occasional Facebook user said he is still not convinced that the Web site is worthwhile.
“I have to confess, I don’t really get it yet,” he said in an exclusive interview with the News. “Why have a separate channel in which you have to go to a Web site in order to access your messages, when I’m easily available via e-mail?”
While Brenzel far outpaces Conroy in the friend count with 15 friends, Nina Glickson ’73, the assistant to University President Richard Levin, edges him slightly, with 17. But Glickson’s profile is somewhat lacking, with only the “Hug Me” application and no personal information or picture.
But her boring profile did not disappoint at least one of her 17 friends, former Yale College Council Secretary Zach Marks ’09.
“She friended me after we met in line for Toad’s,” Marks recalled, perhaps apocryphally. “We could hear the song ‘Hollaback Girl’ playing inside … So I asked her, ‘You like Gwen Stefani, Ms. Glickson?’ And she was like, ‘Yeah, she’s on my favorite artists on Facebook.’
“I was like, ‘You’re on Facebook?!’ ” Marks said. “And she was like, ‘Of course. I’ll friend you when I get home.’ Sure enough, at 3:47 a.m. that night/morning, I had a friend request waiting from Nina Glickson, the woman, the myth, the legend.”
Glickson did not respond to a Facebook request for comment.
But even with her double-digit friend count and fancy Woodbridge Hall office, even the powerful Glickson has nothing on Michael Morand ’87 DIV ’93, the associate vice president for New Haven and State Affairs. With 494 friends — more than these News reporters — and four times more archived profile pictures (25) than the Conroy power couple has friends (six), Morand is a Facebook force to be reckoned with.
Morand, whose About Me reads, “Radical moderate democratic capitalist, apprentice master of the hearty hello and the speedy goodbye,” has been known to change his status as often as his administrative counterparts check their Blackberries.
Morand declined to be interviewed via Facebook Chat but explained in a Facebook message that he enjoys using the Web site as a means to maintain connections with friends from various walks of life, especially those outside of Yale and New Haven.
But is the town-gown czar and former alderman on cloud nine with his status as the Yale administration’s top Facebooker? Not quite.
“I don’t judge the site based on the quantity of my contacts,” Morand wrote, “but on their quality, and the friends I have are the best one could hope to have.”
Klasky, for her part, noted that her profile was intentionally “conservative” in its details; she is the face of the University, after all.
Klasky said she was no Facebook enthusiast, but she admitted she found it satisfactory. Satisfactory enough, at least, to list on the Facebook application “Cities I’ve Visited” the 360 cities and 57 countries to which she has traveled.
A reporter suggested that Levin, a veritable hipster with his Toyota Prius and Macbook Air, should create his own Facebook profile. Might Klasky be willing to set it up for him?
“I would use my time with President Levin on more constructive issues than opening a Facebook account,” she said.