One week removed from Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway’s announcement that he will depart Yale, the University has yet to release information about the process for selecting his successor — but there is recent precedent that indicates one path the University may take.
University President Peter Salovey told the Yale community in an email last week that updates about the search process and the subsequent assembly of an advisory committee are forthcoming. Administrators told the News they do not yet know how the search process will unfold, but said this year’s process may resemble that of past dean selections. Holloway leaves Yale to serve as the provost of Northwestern University effective July 1.
“We will miss Dean Holloway, whose deep knowledge of undergraduate life has been a key feature of [the Faculty of Arts and Sciences] conversations,” Dean of the FAS Tamar Gendler said. “No one can truly fill [Holloway]’s shoes, but I am certain that President Salovey will select an excellent successor.”
In the past, the search process for a new dean has included the entire community, from faculty to undergraduates, though the University president has the final authority to select a new dean.
However, the most recent search for a dean was “atypical,” according to FAS Senate Chair Emily Greenwood, because it followed the restructuring of the deanship structure in the FAS, Yale College, and the Graduate School. Prior to 2014, Gendler’s current position — FAS Dean — did not exist, and the creation of the role required the redistribution of certain responsibilities, like overseeing tenure and promotions, Greenwood said.
After the restructuring, the searches for all three new deans occurred simultaneously, and Holloway, Gendler and Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Lynn Cooley were all appointed in May 2014, Greenwood said. She added that for this process, Salovey appointed a decanal search committee composed of full professors in FAS, staffed by senior advisor to the president Martha Highsmith and chaired by psychology professor Marvin Chun. Undergraduate and graduate students also served on the committee, Greenwood added.
“The committee consulted widely with faculty, students and administrators through a combination of town hall meetings, online forums, individual face-to-face interviews and research into the profile and achievements of likely candidates,” Greenwood said. “Members of the community were invited to nominate candidates. At the end of the process, the committee came up with a long list of nominated candidates which was submitted to the president, who made the final selection and appointments.”
Greenwood said she expects Salovey to ask the FAS Senate to nominate faculty members to serve on the search committee for the next dean. The senate has a Committee on Committees for making nominations of this kind, she added.
The arts and science faculty and the Yale College dean have a close relationship, with weekly Monday meetings between Holloway, Gendler and Cooley, Gendler said.
“Dean Holloway has always been willing to talk to the [FAS] Senate and to collaborate, but the channels of collaboration and cooperation with the Yale College Dean’s office are not obvious and this is something which we hope to clarify and build on,” Greenwood said.
Yale College Council President Peter Huang ’18 said he has not heard of YCC involvement in the upcoming selection process, but said he had heard the administration requested undergraduate representation on the most recent search committee that selected Holloway in 2014. Huang said he did not know whether the dean candidates will be chosen from among Yale faculty or whether the committee will look outside Yale.
“Dean Holloway is extremely receptive to student input and is very honest and forthright,” Huang said. “I am optimistic that the new dean will have these same qualities. I hope that the new dean will be passionate about working with students to improve undergraduate policy.”
Holloway is also the first African-American dean of Yale College. Former Yale College Dean Mary Miller GRD ’81 told the News that race is not necessarily a factor when considering candidates, adding that Salovey and the search committee will “look creatively at who has the preparation that seems most appropriate for Yale College.”
Miller added that upcoming changes to Yale College, especially the opening of two new residential colleges in the fall of 2017, pose important considerations for the decanal search and the role of the new dean in general.
“I think it’s going to be important to think about the education of the 21st century,” Miller said. “We reviewed the Yale College education curriculum while I was dean, and I think once the expansion has fully played out — that is to say, roughly five years from now or four years from now, once the first expanded class has graduated in 2021 — that will be the time, I think, to look at the curriculum and see if it’s serving our students.”
Gendler — who said she does not yet know how the process of selecting Holloway’s successor will play out — said Holloway’s departure is not unusual, as faculty serving in administrative positions often move between universities. Gendler said Holloway’s departure was unexpected but understandable, given that the position of provost offers many administrative opportunities and, she added, Northwestern is an “excellent university.”
She added that the four provosts who preceded Salovey left Yale to become presidents or vice chancellors at the University of Pennsylvania, Cambridge University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Oxford University.
Holloway served as the head of Calhoun College before taking on his current role.