Longtime Davenport Head of College Richard Schottenfeld will step down from his role at the end of June.
Schottenfeld, a psychiatry professor at the Yale University School of Medicine, announced his departure in an email to the Davenport community Wednesday afternoon. After stepping down, Schottenfeld said he plans to take a “long overdue” sabbatical, enjoy time with his family and focus on his work on the problems of addiction and accessible treatment domestically and internationally. Schottenfeld, who was in Davenport as an undergraduate, wrote that it was a “great privilege” to serve as head of college for 15 years, citing the college’s sense of community as a source of comfort and pride.
“Of course, we have the most beautiful courtyards and facilities, the most wonderful staff and the most amazing students,” Schottenfeld said in his email. ”But most of all, this is a community of friends who welcome everyone, who support each other in difficult times and who cheer each other on and celebrate each other’s accomplishments. I have seen that so many times. Each time, I feel a surge of emotion, a deepening love for all of you.”
Students interviewed described Schottenfeld, known affectionately as “Dr. S,” as compassionate and dedicated to his students.
Katie Kuenzle ’19, a Davenport aide, called Schottenfeld a “very warm and calming presence.” Kuenzle recalled how Schottenfeld recognized her parents at a reception this fall, striking up a conversation with them about herself and her brother, also a student in Davenport.
“I am constantly touched by his effort to get to know the students on not only an academic but personal level,” Kuenzle said. “In light of the events that have occurred recently on campus and nationwide, Dr. S has led Davenport with inspiring grace, compassion and courage.”
Elise Gubbins ’18 praised Schottenfeld for taking time to listen to students’ concerns and added that Dr. S even opened his house frequently last fall in the midst of campus unrest to hear what different groups of students, such as Davenport women of color, needed. She added that she was sad about his departure, but happy that he is doing what he thinks is best for himself and his family.
Sonia Helen Pascale ’18, a Davenport aide, said one of her favorite things about Schottenfeld is how he made time for students despite being busy with his duties as head of college, his psychiatric practice and his teaching at the medical school.
“When issues arise for a particular student or the entire community, he carves out the time,” Pascale said. “His dedication to the students is something that’s definitely going to be missed here.”
Schottenfeld opened his house to students for a community gathering the week of Hale Ross’ ’18 death and the night following the presidential election, Pascale added.
Pascale said she met with Schottenfeld when she was considering majoring in psychology or psychiatry as a freshman and wanted to hear about the fields. Schottenfeld reached out to her and shared some of his experiences, Pascale recalled.
Following Schottenfeld’s email, Kuenzle said her phone was “abuzz” with messages from students in the Davenport College Council group chat, expressing their sadness at the announcement.
“It’s heartbreaking that Dr. S will be leaving and I wish I could have spent all four years with him as my head of college,” DCC Social Activities Committee Co-chair Stephanie Levine ’19. “He always has amazing input at DCC meetings, a happy attitude and sincere love for his students. Dr. S brings a lively spirit to all aspects of the college and I will miss him dearly.”
Schottenfeld wrote in his email that he met with University President Peter Salovey last week to inform him of his departure. He added that he will miss living in Davenport and interacting with students every day.
When Schottenfeld joined the Davenport community as a Yale College freshman, he wrote in his Wednesday email, he “never could have imagined then what Davenport College would come to mean” for him. He added that everyone he met in the college, from deans to students to staff, made him feel “at home.”
“My family and I will leave Davenport grateful that the journey has been, in the words of C.P. Cavafy, ‘full of adventure, full of discovery’ and especially grateful for your friendship and the care you have shown us,” Schottenfeld wrote.