The departure of Linda Lorimer, Yale’s vice president for global and strategic initiatives and one of the most influential administrators at the University, signals a sea-change in the upper echelons of the Yale administration.
When Lorimer leaves her post in April 2015, three of the closest advisors to former University president Richard Levin — Lorimer, who Levin called his “right hand,” General Counsel Dorothy Robinson and Assistant to the President and Advisor on Student Affairs Nina Glickson — who shaped Yale over the past three decades, will have departed. Left in question, then, is to whom Yale’s current president, Peter Salovey, will most frequently turn for advice.
All three administrators worked largely under Levin’s tenure and continued through the transition to Yale’s 23rd president.
Although former School of Management Dean and management and entrepreneurship professor Sharon Oster said she did not have inside information regarding Lorimer’s decision process, she said it is not uncommon for someone to stay in a role for a few additional years before moving on.
“When a new boss comes in, it is a time in which people think that maybe it is [their] time as well,” Oster said. “I think Linda probably thought about this when Rick was leaving and maybe thought she would help in the transition.”
Although administrators maintain the recent changes do not indicate a broader shift in the direction of University leadership, the power dynamic within the Salovey administration appears poised for change.
“The governance structure of the University provides mechanisms for the president to seek advice and wisdom from a broad group of faculty members and others,” Salovey said in an email. “While from time to time seasoned and sage individuals leave our ranks, a place like Yale generates new leaders and thinkers quite naturally through these structure.”
Following Levin’s retirement in 2013, many expected Lorimer to follow the leader who she had worked alongside for 20 years. The two tackled issues ranging from the creation of Yale-NUS to the expansion of online education.
Still, the question of who will emerge as Salovey’s “right hand” — if anyone — remains unanswered.
An obvious candidate is Secretary and Vice President for Student Life Kimberly Goff-Crews. Goff-Crews appears to be in an analogous position to Lorimer, who served as university secretary from 1993-2012, and the two have held many of the same responsibilities.
Since her appointment in August 2012, Goff-Crews has taken an active role in student life, meeting regularly with the Yale College Council, the Graduate and Professional Student Senate and Graduate Student Assembly, while also seeking to improve off-campus housing. As part of her responsibilities, Goff-Crews supports the Yale Corporation, the highest governing body at the University, and the University Council, which serves as an advisory body to Salovey. In a January 2014 email to the News, Salovey noted that Goff-Crews is excellent at approaching challenges involving students across all the University’s schools and departments. Among a host of other issues, Salovey and Goff-Crews have collaborated on undergraduate alcohol policies.
Regardless of who Salovey turns to for advice, Lorimer’s formal role as a vice president for global and strategic initiatives will likely go unfilled after she leaves. Lorimer said Salovey has no intention to appoint a successor to the position when she departs in April 2015.
However, Margaret Marshall LAW ’76, previous Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts and now current Senior Fellow of the Yale Corporation, said Lorimer trained a number of people over her career who could easily carry out the responsibilities she held.
In addition, Lorimer said that many of the departments, programs and services she has overseen — which range from Office of International Affairs to Office of Emergency Management — will be overseen by other divisions.
While Salovey’s cabinet may look different in April with the absence of three long-time, high-ranking administrators, University officials insisted these changes did not indicate a broader shift within the Yale leadership.
Vice President for Finance and Business Operations Shauna King said she did not believe Lorimer, Robinson and Glickson’s departures imply any change in administrative direction.
“These are long-serving administrators who have supported several presidents including the one we are lucky to have as president now and will now be enjoying a much-deserved new chapter in their lives,” King said in an email.
Oster voiced a similar sentiment, and said she did not believe Lorimer’s departure indicated Yale was turning the page on the Levin years. She added it is natural for individuals to explore new paths or opportunities after years of service.
Lorimer will continue working until December 2016 as senior counselor to the president.