English professor Amy Hungerford will step down as Master of Morse College at the end of this academic year, following her appointment today as Divisional Director for the Humanities.
Hungerford, who stepped into the Mastership in 2012 and chaired the Council of Masters—a position she inherited from current Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway — also teaches a popular lecture course on “The American Novel Since 1945.”
In her new position, Hungerford will work closely with FAS Dean Tamar Gendler to make sure that the University’s administrative and hiring decisions align with departmental priorities in the humanities.
Hungerford’s full email is below:
To my dear students and friends at Morse,
With profoundly mixed feelings, I write to let you know that I will be stepping away from the Mastership of Morse at the end of this academic year so that I can serve as the Divisional Director for the Humanities, an appointment that is being announced today. My job will be to articulate and support the intellectual priorities of Yale’s twenty-three Humanities departments and programs, and will draw on my core identity as a professor and scholar.
That core identity has been shaped by you and in the new role my work will continue to hold students at the center of Yale’s vibrant intellectual life. Given who I am and what I do best, this is a great opportunity to integrate the heart of undergraduate experience with the university’s broadest intellectual and teaching mission.
To remain the Master of Morse while taking on this role would be unfair to both communities, as each job requires that I be truly present to the specific community I serve. Holding both positions would take me away almost completely from teaching and research in the longer term. In freshman orientation and in advising throughout students’ careers, we talk about life balance and the importance of being able to let things go. This is a case where I was challenged to follow my own advice. I’ll be honest: it isn’t easy.
Morse is an amazing community, and you make it so. Seniors, I am inspired by your accomplishments across this campus and by your emergence as leaders and caring adults ready (even if you don’t feel it!) for the world beyond Yale. Juniors, your energy is transforming Morse daily into the truly student-led community that a college can ideally be. Sophmorsels, your presence in the college proper is already taking us new places—you are original, lively, experimental. And though I am only just getting to know you, Freshmorsels, it’s already clear that Morse crackles with your new energy. Students, you are surrounded and supported by a passionate and talented staff in the college. In times of transition—and, indeed, every ordinary day—they hold the mission and operations of the college steady with their care and professionalism.
I am grateful to you in a personal sense as well as being grateful for all you do for Morse. Some of my best experiences at Yale have been shared with you inside the rough walls of our beautiful college. I will not soon forget being taught to dance the Wobble during Hurricane Sandy in the Morse dining hall, or laughing over study break ideas in a staff meeting, or working with Dean Silverman to help students face some of the deepest challenges of their lives. I will savor every senior presentation at the Mellon forum this year, every smart question at a Master’s tea, and every chance encounter I have with Morsels each day. Being among you makes me a better person.
There is more to say, and we have a year ahead that’s full of plans and opportunities to shape and enjoy this great college. I will be here with all of you in the present, living out the Morse spirit beside you.