Updated: Dec. 3, 3:55 a.m.
Like the masters of Morse, Silliman and Timothy Dwight colleges, Saybrook College Master Paul Hudak will step down at the end of the spring semester.
Hudak, who has been master for six years, announced the news in an email sent to the Saybrook community Tuesday morning. After being diagnosed with leukemia five years ago and receiving a stem cell transplant a year later, Hudak said that he is still experiencing side effects of his treatments that have left him with non-life-threatening yet bothersome health problems. He said he is stepping down sooner than he would have liked but feels that he is no longer able to bring the vibrancy to the mastership that Saybrook deserves.
“I am incredibly privileged to have served as master for the past six years,” Hudak wrote. “Even though I’m stepping down sooner than I would have liked, all good things must come to an end sometime.”
Hudak explained that he will not be leaving Yale, and that Saybrugians should expect to see him around campus. He added that he plans to renew his teaching and research program in the Computer Science Department, and also will have more time to spend with his family.
Hudak told the News he recalls both the physical improvements he made to Saybrook and the warm community spirit he tried to foster.
“I’d like to think that I contributed more than just material things,” he said. “Establishing the intellectual, social and ethical standards are more important, but are harder to quantify.”
Several of Hudak’s colleagues said his presence will be greatly missed.
“It is difficult to lose yet another colleague on the Council of Masters,” Pierson College Master Stephen Davis said. “It has been a real honor having the opportunity to work with Master Hudak, and I know that he will certainly be missed by both students and colleagues.”
Branford College Master Elizabeth Bradley said she will never forget her first meal with Hudak and his wife, director of residential dining Cathy Van Dyke. After she was announced as the next master of Branford, Hudak and his wife took Bradley to Atticus on Chapel Street, where they told her that being a master is “the best job of one’s life.”
Computer science professor Julie Dorsey, who is a fellow of Saybrook College, said Hudak was outstanding in many realms. As the Computer Science Department chair, he hired four women to a department that had previously had no tenured female faculty members.
“Students and fellows alike frequently note their deep appreciation for Master Hudak’s approachable nature and warm and thoughtful demeanor,” she said. “We value those same qualities within the Computer Science Department, where he is a source of inspiration and sage counsel.”
Morse College Master Amy Hungerford — who will also step down after this year — said the decision to leave is always difficult for masters, given the rewards that come from working in such a tight community with both students and staff. She added that she has always admired Hudak’s commitment to his college.
Of nine Saybrook students interviewed, three noted what they called Hudak’s comforting presence in the college. Rahul Singh ’15 said he always found Hudak to have a calming influence at the study breaks he hosted.
Raleigh Cavero ’15, a former YTV editor for the News, recalled Hudak’s unwavering dedication to Saybrook students in the face of his health concerns.
“I remember they had the reception for freshmen out in front of the Saybrook courtyard, and he had just had a bone marrow transplant,” Cavero said. “But he still went out there. He stood out in the 95-degree heat just so he could greet all the freshmen and fist bump them even though he felt terrible and he couldn’t shake their hands.”
Saybrook Master’s Aide Leon Ebani ’17 said that Hudak will be remembered for the countless contributions he has made to Saybrook, such as creating the music and art series that takes place in Saybrook’s Underbrook and purchasing the glider for the stone courtyard.
Magda Zielonka ’17, an intramurals secretary for Saybrook, also noted Hudak’s devotion to music. On Sunday nights, Hudak and his jazz ensemble often perform in the Saybrook common room to usher students into family dinner.
Zielonka added that some of her best memories of Hudak are of his attendance at intramurals. At one football match last year, she said, he even came into the game to play quarterback for the final play.