Betsy Bradley GRD ’96, the School of Public Health professor appointed the new master of Branford College Monday night, may not be a familiar face to most Branfordians.
When University President Richard Levin announced her appointment in the packed college dining hall, he told students that the professor was coming “from the other side of campus” to join the Branford community. For the past five years, though, Bradley has taught undergraduates, and she said she is looking forward to getting more involved in Yale College.
“I’ve taught undergraduates for five years, and they really challenge you and make you think outside the box,” Bradley said in an interview after the announcement. “They have tremendous aspirations, and I look forward to helping develop and support these aspirations.”
Bradley — who received a Ph.D. from Yale in health politics and health economics and serves as director for the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS and the Global Health Leadership Initative — was selected after a nearly two-month-long search. Since February, a committee headed by psychology professor Paul Bloom that included three Branford College fellows and six Branford students led the search for outgoing Master Steven Smith’s replacement.
The announcement was bittersweet for the Branford community, which Smith has served for 15 years. Smith presented Bradley with a Branford College T-shirt and received a standing ovation from the students.
“I did not know her before this,” Smith told the News after the ceremony. “We met for the first time last week. But I was immediately impressed by her enthusiasm — having enthusiasm for the job is a huge part of doing this job well.”
In an email to the News, search committee member Erica Rothman ’12 said Bradley’s combination of energy, enthusiasm and respect for Branford traditions set her apart from other candidates. She also said that while Bradley may need time to adjust to her new post, the committee is confident in her ability to transition smoothly from her graduate school focus to Yale College.
Daniel Tahara ’14, a Branfordian present at the announcement, said that Branford is already in transition because its dean, Hilary Fink, assumed her job just last spring. Still, he said Bradley seems enthused about the mastership and brings an energy the college needs.
“We all love Master Smith,” said Joyce Li ’13. “[Bradley] has some big shoes to fill, but we’re all really excited.”
Colleagues at the School of Public Health said Bradley will fit perfectly into her new role. Kaveh Khoshnood, an associate professor of public health, said Bradley is his primary mentor and is a leader in the school.
“This position allows undergraduates to have more exposure to her, and I think now many, many more will be inspired by the kind of work she’s started at Yale,” Khoshnood said.
After earning her B.A. from Harvard in 1984, Bradley received an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago in 1986. Now on the faculty of the School of Public Health, Bradley researches health delivery systems.
Levin said Bradley’s wealth of professional experience will bring an important perspective to the mastership.
“She’s a prolific writer, she knows people all over the world, and she hopes to engage — not proselytize to — some of you who are interested in public health,” he told students Monday night.
Bradley will be joined at her post by her husband, John Bradley ’81, who was a member of Branford College and will serve as associate master. John said he is looking forward to returning to Branford, adding that “the food looks better” now than when he was a student.
The couple has three children — University of Wisconsin freshman Alice, 18, Kate, 15, and Tim, 11. Kate and Tim were present at the announcement, and both said they are excited to move into the residential college this summer.
Will Jordan ’13, one of 11 students interviewed at the announcement, said he is glad that Bradley has adolescent children because it means “she’s dealt with all of our sorts of issues before.”
Bradley begins her first five-year term as master on July 1.