Yale College Dean Peter Salovey GRD ’86 will be the University’s next provost, Yale President Richard Levin announced Wednesday, filling one void in the upper reaches of his administration but opening up another.

The 50-year-old Salovey, a professor of psychology, will take office Oct. 1. A committee has already been formed to recommend his successor, Levin said.

“Peter Salovey is really an extraordinary dean,” Levin said in an interview. “He’s got great judgment, great personal characteristics; he is very well respected by the faculty and he is a real pleasure to work with.”

The announcement — made official at a ceremony held in Luce Hall this afternoon — ends a three-month search to replace Provost Andrew Hamilton, a well-respected chemist who next fall will take the helm of the University of Oxford. Salovey quickly emerged as a frontrunner for the position, but sources said he did not appear interested in the job.

Earlier in the summer, Salovey told the News that he considered his position as dean to be “the best job in higher education in America.” Indeed, Levin said the dean was not immediately drawn to the idea of being provost, Yale’s second-ranking official and chief administrative and academic officer after the president.

“I think Peter’s initial instinct early in the summer was he loved his job as Yale College dean,” Levin said. But as the summer went on, he said, Salovey began to come around. “It was sort of an evolution,” Levin said.

In a statement Wednesday, Salovey said he is eager to begin his new post.

“It is an exciting time at Yale on numerous fronts, and the provost has important opportunities to contribute to the University’s progress on all of them,” he said.

In an e-mail to the community, Levin cited Salovey’s leadership in overseeing the implementation of the recommendations of the Committee on Yale College Education, on which he served before becoming dean, and shepherding Yale’s efforts to internationalizing its curriculum and bolster international programs.

Salovey previously served as dean of the Graduate School and chairman of the Psychology Department. “Few in Yale’s history have been so well prepared to become provost,” Levin said.

He also leaves big shoes to fill in the dean’s office. Leading the search for his successor will be Gary Haller, the master of Jonathan Edwards College, who will chair a committee to recommend Salovey’s replacement as dean, Levin said. The president said it is “more likely than not” that an acting dean will take office Oct. 1 when Salovey moves a block down Grove Street to Warner House.

Levin also announced Wednesday the appointment of Michael Donoghue, the former director of the Peabody Museum of Natural History, as vice president for West Campus planning and program development. Donoghue — who himself was rumored to be a top candidate for provost — will serve for three years in a job Levin said will entail developing an overall blueprint for the development of the West Campus, the former home of Bayer HealthCare acquired by the University a year ago.

“He’s just perfectly suited for leading this West Campus effort because he is both a very distinguished scientist and he has also been a museum director,” Levin said.

In the interview, Levin said the length of the search for a new provost was not an indicator that he struggled to fill the position. Rather, he decided midway through the process that it would be better to use the search to more broadly reassess the University’s administration, particularly as far as the West Campus is concerned.

“I reversed course in a certain sense,” Levin said. “I realized there was some great benefit to heading back and taking time to meet with a number of key faculty leaders and talk with them about the provost job and frankly about this question about how to organize planning for the West Campus.”

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