As of Oct. 4, the five vacant spots in University President Peter Salovey’s advisory cabinet have been filled after the appointment of two new vice presidents and three new deans.
Salovey formed the 25-person cabinet — composed of 15 professional school deans, nine vice presidents and University Provost Ben Polak — after he assumed office in 2013, and the group meets monthly to discuss pressing University issues. But after a series of departures, the cabinet was in need of five new appointees by November 2015, prompting the University to convene search committees to fill them. Sten Vermund, who was named dean of the School of Public Health Oct. 4, was the latest cabinet member to be appointed.
“Right now I think we have an ideal mix of experienced Yale leaders interacting with a group of new Yale leaders, and my sense is that this year, as a result, we’ll make a lot of progress on issues that are core to Yale’s excellence,” Salovey said.
The first of the five vacant cabinet seats was filled in January 2016 when Eileen O’Connor assumed the newly created position of vice president for communications. The following month Yale announced the arrival of Marta Kuzma as the Yale Art School dean, the last cabinet appointment made that semester. In June, Jack Callahan ’80 was selected to fill the inaugural senior vice president for operations position, and in July Ingrid Burke was appointed dean of the School of Forestry & Environmental Science.
Fifteeen of the 25 cabinet members have spent five years or less in their positions, and five have come to their current roles in the last year alone.
Salovey said he is especially proud of the increase in the number of women present on the cabinet. When he became president in 2013, just six of the administrative positions that would go on to form the cabinet were held by women. Now, though only three of the nine vice presidents are women, the number of female professional school deans has gone from three to seven, bringing the number of women cabinet members to 10. Of the three new positions created under Salovey — two vice presidential positions and the dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences — two are currently held by women.
“When I started, many of these search committees were underway but hadn’t been completed, so I’ve seen already more women coming into the leadership team, and it’s nice because we’ve actually even formed a kind of camaraderie,” O’Connor said. “And you do have a diversity of experiences, and of tone. … It offers different experiences, different viewpoints and different management styles that inform any debate on any issue.”
Secretary and Vice President for Student Life Kimberly Goff-Crews, who joined the University in 2012, said there was some concern among faculty and staff in recent years after several senior women administrators stepped down. Linda Lorimer LAW ’77, former secretary of the Yale Corporation, left that position in 2012, then stepped down as vice president for global and strategic initiatives in 2015. Dorothy Robinson, Yale’s former vice president and general counsel, retired in the summer of 2014. The following year, Shauna King, the former vice president for finance and administration, also stepped down.
In the wake of these departures, Goff-Crews said, faculty and staff sought to ensure the continued presence of women in senior leadership roles at Yale — something that Salovey has accomplished, she added.
Goff-Crews added that Salovey has focused on further diversifying the senior leadership of the University. Though search committees placed emphasis on the quality of a candidate’s scholarship, O’Connor said, the committees also made an effort to approach a wide group of individuals and take diversity — including culture, religion and gender — into account during their searches
“It says a lot about the way women have been able to move into leadership positions that enable them to get the experience now needed to be able to rise to even higher leadership positions,” O’Connor said.
With the cabinet filled, O’Connor said Salovey and Polak are focusing on faculty diversity, ensuring there are no obstacles preventing the most qualified individuals from having access to the resources necessary for research and teaching. She added that the University will be particularly attentive to identifying and addressing obstacles that typically prevent underrepresented minorities from progressing in academia.
Salovey said the next cabinet search will most likely be for a replacement dean of Yale Law School, as Robert Post LAW ’77 will step down when his term ends in June 2017. A search committee for his successor has been assembled and hopes to provide Salovey with a recommendation by the end of the fall semester, Law School Director of Communications and Public Affairs Janet Conroy told the News.
Vermund is a professor at Vanderbilt University and will begin his deanship in February 2017.