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Dean of Pierson College June Chu has left her position, head of Pierson College Stephen Davis announced in a Tuesday morning email to Pierson students.
Chu, who was appointed dean of Pierson College in spring 2016, was placed on leave in May after screenshots circulated of offensive reviews she posted on her personal Yelp account: One described customers at a local institution as “white trash” and “low class folk” and another praised a movie theater for its lack of “sketchy crowds (despite it being in New Haven).”
“Dean Chu has left her position at Pierson College and wishes the best to the students,” Davis said in his email. “As a result, I am initiating the process of the search for a new dean, who will be in place before the start of the fall term.”
Days before Chu was placed on leave, Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway told the News that he had not asked for her resignation.
In his email, Davis added that he will be reaching out to students in Pierson to inquire about their availability and willingness to play a role in the search for the college’s next dean over the summer. He had not responded to an email from the News at publication.
An email request for comment from Chu was met with an automated response stating Chu is “unavailable” and directing questions about academics to Dean of Academic Affairs Mark Schenker and other questions regarding Pierson to the residential college office email address.
On May 13, after screenshots of two offensive Yelp reviews – of Koto Japanese Steakhouse and Criterion Cinemas – surfaced, Chu sent an email to Pierson students apologizing for her insensitive language. Shortly afterwards, Davis sent a follow-up email underscoring Chu’s remorse for her comments and asking students to share their thoughts on how best to move forward as a community.
Later that day, the News obtained and published nearly a dozen screenshots of additional derogatory reviews posted from Chu’s account, which neither Chu nor Davis had mentioned in their emails.
In a May 18 email, Davis announced that Chu had been placed on leave and would not participate in Commencement activities. In his email, Davis said that he had lost trust in Chu’s ability to lead Pierson students after discovering that there were not just two troubling reviews, but “multiple reprehensible” posts indicative of a broader pattern.
Pierson student Darby Mowell ’18 said she was not surprised by Chu’s departure, and was pleased with Davis’ solicitation of student input in the search for her successor.
“I think it was a logical move for her, considering how the revelations seemed to compromise her credibility as someone to whom all Pierson students could feel free to come with their problems without fear of judgement,” Mowell said.