Judith Krauss, the longest-serving sitting college master, will step down from her position at Silliman College at the end of this academic year.
Krauss, who assumed the mastership of Silliman in 2000, announced in a college-wide email Wednesday that the 2014-’15 academic year will be her last as a full-time employee of the University as well. After 44 years as a nursing professor, and 13 years as dean of the School of Nursing — a position that she left in 1998 — Krauss said she will leave her faculty post as well. Although the announcement did not come as a surprise to most students interviewed, Silliman faculty and students both applauded her tenure and expressed excitement for the new direction of the college.
“I’m not entirely sure what this next chapter will bring but I look ahead knowing that change is an essential,” Krauss wrote to the Silliman community. “In looking ahead I’m also reflecting back on these very special years in Silliman.”
Krauss cited the Silliman holiday dinners, Safety Dance, Silliman’s winning streak of the Tyng Cup and the Senior Mellon Forum as some of the highlights she will especially remember. One of her proudest moments was overseeing the renovations of Silliman — the largest renovation of the 12 residential colleges in size and scope — which was completed 2007, Krauss said.
Krauss told the News that she will enter into full retirement following the end of this academic year, and that it was time for Silliman to receive new energy and perspective. She added that she hopes students will not spend the next nine months saying “goodbye” but will instead make the most of their remaining time together.
“It’s too soon for a parting message,” Krauss said. “We should spend the next nine months focusing on the next phase of Silliman.”
Students, staff and faculty of Silliman said they supported Krauss’ decision and hoped her successor would follow in line with her standard of leadership.
Jonathan Edwards Master Penelope Laurans said that despite the turnover of masters being a regular occurrence, Krauss’ absence will be felt in the Council of Masters, and that she is grateful for Krauss’ devoted service as the Council’s chair for two terms.
“I have the utmost respect and admiration for Master K,” said Joseph Fischel, director of undergraduate studies of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies and Silliman residential fellow. “I have been deeply impressed with her organizational skills.”
Silliman chef Stu Comen, who served under Krauss during all 15 years of her tenure, said he was sad to see her leave the position. He said he enjoyed working closely with Krauss for special events, including the holiday dinner and a lobster and keg party for graduating seniors.
Comen added that Krauss’s greatest strength was emphasizing a community not only among students, but among Silliman staff as well. He said she often stressed to incoming freshmen the importance of creating a connection with all members of the Silliman community, whether in dining halls, maintenance or administrative offices.
John Lazarsfeld ’17 said that this morning Krauss announced something many students in Silliman had known informally since last year. He said Silliman students are grateful for her long-term commitment to the position and heralded her ability to build personal relationships amongst students in Yale’s largest residential college.
Still, not all students interviewed in Silliman offered unmitigated praise for Krauss.
Warren Bloom ’16 said Krauss did not shape his Silliman experience in either a positive or negative way. He said he hopes the new master will not be too strict regarding rules governing the social life within the college.
The upper echelons of the college are in flux, with Krauss leaving this spring and the new dean Jessie Hill barely three months into her tenure.
Although Hill only first met Krauss during her interview for the deanship last spring, Hill described her as someone who is known for her sense of humor and down-to-earth outlook. She added she most admired Krauss for her ability to be both tough and fair.
Hannah Fornero ’15, who has worked closely with Krauss as a master’s aide, said she hopes Krauss’ successor will help develop a student bond within the college.
When asked about potential candidates for Silliman’s new master, women’s basketball head coach Chris Gobrecht, a residential fellow in Silliman College, said Krauss is irreplaceable.
“I can honestly tell you that if I were to name the people outside of my family who have impacted my life the most, Judy Krauss would be at the top of that list,” Gobrecht added.
There appears to be no clear successor to Krauss, and students interviewed said they did not know of potential candidates who would fill her position.
Still, students said they were excited to work closely with the newly appointed master in maintaining a positive college environment within Silliman.
“I’m looking forward to welcoming in the next master and helping him or her begin to love Silliman as much as I do,” said Emma Poole ’17, co-head of Silliman Activities and Administration Committee.
Krauss is the eighth master of Silliman College.
Rachel Siegel contributed reporting.