Penelope Laurans, an associate dean of Yale College and special assistant to the president, has been appointed acting master of Jonathan Edwards College while the college’s master-designate, Richard Lalli MUS ’86, recovers from a brain hemorrhage.

Lalli, who was scheduled to take office on Jan. 1, sustained the hemorrhage two weeks ago and remains in the intensive care unit at Yale-New Haven Hospital, according to a hospital spokesman. In an e-mail message to the JE community sent Monday afternoon, University President Richard Levin said Lalli is “improving every day” and that he looks forward to the time when Lalli will formally assume the master’s post.

“It did seem that it would be some time before Master Lalli would assume his full duties,” Levin said in a telephone interview. “We thought we should start the JE community off with someone who would be available to students.”

Laurans, who will take over from outgoing Master Gary Haller, has been affiliated with JE for 33 years as an adviser and fellow, Levin wrote. She has been a member of the English Department faculty for 35 years, in addition to working in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, the Yale Review, the Yale College Dean’s Office and the Office of the President. She was acting dean of the college in the 1980s.

Laurans, who has worked with Lalli on musical productions in the past, said she is a close friend of both Lalli and his partner, Michael Rigsby MED ’88, the medical director for Yale University Health Services and the associate master-designate of the college.

Although Laurans said she would step down from the mastership as soon as Lalli can assume the duties, even in the middle of the semester, Haller said Laurans was prepared to remain in the position for at least the remainder of the academic year.

Levin named Lalli, an adjunct professor of music and a JE fellow, to the mastership in March.

Paul Needham contributed reporting.