Nilakshi Parndigamage ’06 will serve as the next dean of Ezra Stiles College, Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway announced in the college’s dining hall during dinner on Thursday.
Parndigamage, who holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Yale, returns to New Haven after more than a decade away. A member of Trumbull College during her undergraduate years, Parndigamage earned a J.D. from the University of Virginia Law School in 2010 and currently works as an associate at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office.
“Among the many terrific things about this community over the years is the fact that we’ve had extraordinary deans in this college,” Head of Ezra Stiles Stephen Pitti said. “Of course, you know the excellence of Dean L and Dean Morgan. Dean Parndigamage will join this terrific line.”
Parndigamage, originally from Sri Lanka, brings a strong background in not only commercial litigation, but also in international human rights work. Before joining her current law firm, Parndigamage conducted human rights research, advocacy, and public policy work at the Institute for International Law and Human Rights, the International Center for Transitional Justice in Cape Town, and at the Office of the Prosecutor at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, according to her biography on the firm’s website.
Parndigamage will be joined by her husband Patrick Lynch, a city planner from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, their 17-month old son Gihan — who Parndigamage called the “latest, greatest and smallest Moose” — and their cat Machang.
“I’m just completely beyond thrilled and excited and honored and humbled to be here today in front of you guys,” Parndigamage said. “I’m excited by the opportunity to serve you as your dean.”
In her brief welcome address, Parndigamage recalled her first trip to the United States, when she flew into New York before heading to Yale for the international students orientation. Calling her inclusion in the Trumbull community “one of the greatest gifts” during her time at Yale, Parndigamage said perhaps the reason she felt so comfortable was because of her head of college and dean. She added that she was “honored” to be back at Yale.
“The committee was looking for someone who could fulfill the dual roles of being a dean, which is someone who can be a pastoral counselor and also would be there to do logistical things like academic advising,” said Jake Leffew ’19, a member of the Dean’s Search Committee. “A lot of times, candidates had one or the other, and having both was something we looked for. She had that.”
Holloway pointed out that in her time at Yale, Parndigamage was involved in both the Trumbull and greater Yale communities.
Parndigamage succeeds Michelle Morgan GRD ’16, who has served as the interim dean since former Dean Camille Lizarríbar was promoted to Dean of Student Affairs in February of this year. Lizarríbar was the Dean of Ezra Stiles for five and a half years before moving to the Yale College Dean’s Office.
Students interviewed praised Morgan for her four-month tenure, pointing out that she succeeded in a challenging position.
“Dean Morgan has accomplished something that must have felt impossible. She stepped into a community behind the heels of a much-loved Dean — and managed to still shape Ezra Stiles into something of her own,” Cayla Broton ’16 said. “We have been so lucky to have her for these past few months. Dean Morgan has done an incredible job as interim dean and has been an incredible mentor and friend to me and many of my peers.”
Parndigamage officially assumes the position this summer.