Provost Peter Salovey will assume the role of Yale University’s 23rd president next fall, succeeding current University President Richard Levin.
The Yale Corporation named Salovey Yale’s next president in a Thursday afternoon announcement before faculty and administrators in the Hall of Graduate Studies. The decision came after a nearly three-month-long search by the Presidential Search Committee, a group of eight Corporation members and four faculty members formed after Levin announced on Aug. 30 that he plans to step down at the end of the 2012-’13 academic year. Salovey had been a fixture in the Yale community for three decades before his appointment as provost in 2008 — as a graduate student, teacher and dean of both Yale College and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
“When we looked at Peter and [matched him] against that search statement, plus the long history of the place and the relationships he already had, it was a hand in glove fit,” Chair of the Presidential Search Committee Charles Goodyear ’80 said.
Salovey said he was “thrilled” when Bass called him to deliver the news of the Yale Corporation’s decision to offer him the position on Sunday night.
“After more than 30 years here, it’s just so much fun to think about the next couple of decades,” Salovey told the News. “Yale has given me so much, and I really want to give back through my service.”
Salovey said he hopes Levin will appoint a new provost before Salovey vacates the position on June 30.
As provost, Salovey steered the University through the 2008 financial crisis, which caused a nearly 25 percent decrease in the value of the endowment in 2009 and tore a $350 million hole in the University’s budget. Salovey assumed all of his administrative roles at Yale under Levin’s leadership, and Levin said he has enjoyed working with Salovey as a “partner and collaborator” for the last 20 years.
“Obviously I appointed him as provost so I am very confident in him,” Levin said. “I’m delighted to see that the Corporation had the confidence in him to give him this opportunity.”
Salovey has inhabited many areas of the University since arriving in New Haven in 1981. As a student, he completed M.S. and M.Phil. degrees and earned a Ph.D. in 1986, joining the faculty later that year. Salovey then became chair of the Psychology Department in 2000, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 2003, dean of Yale College in 2004 and provost in 2008.
The Presidential Search Statement, released by the Presidential Search Committee on Oct. 9, said the new president must be “a scholar and educator” with a commitment to administrative duties, among other qualities. Four members of the Presidential Search Committee and five administrators interviewed said they predict Salovey’s breadth of experience at Yale will help him unify the University.
“Peter loves this place so dearly — he has been engaged and led in every arena since his first year as a grad student,” Vice President Linda Lorimer said. “This is a tremendous moment for Yale.”
Presidential Search Committee member Amy Hungerford said she hopes Salovey will connect the parts of Yale that “seem like separate things sometimes,” such as the Law School, Drama School and science programs. She added that Salovey communicates the University’s central goals well.
Of the 53 students interviewed following Thursday’s announcement, none expressed a negative reaction to Salovey’s appointment as the next president, and 36 students who said they were familiar with Salovey praised him as a charismatic choice.
Former Senior Fellow of the Yale Corporation Roland Betts ’68 called Salovey an “absolutely fabulous choice.”
Yale’s last four provosts under Levin have gone to lead the University of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Oxford and University of Cambridge.
Sophie Gould and Kirsten Schnackenberg contributed reporting.