Recently appointed Yale College Dean Marvin Chun is settling into his new position as the school year begins.
In an interview with the News, Chun, who assumed the deanship July 1, said he is adjusting smoothly to the demands of his role. In particular, Chun noted that his background as head of Berkeley college from 2007 to 2016 has helped him navigate important aspects of the job, such as those concerning the residential colleges and extracurricular life. He added that, though he still needs to better familiarize himself with issues pertaining to academic affairs and the undergraduate curriculum, his earlier teaching and research responsibilities have served as a useful guide.
As Pauli Murray and Benjamin Franklin colleges open their doors for the first time this fall, Chun is entering the deanship at a historic moment for the University.
“With the onboarding of the two new colleges, I just have to say how delighted and grateful I feel for how smoothly this opening has been,” Chun said. “The facilities opened up on time, a lot of students came out to help their first years move in. Everything just went really smoothly and I’m beyond delighted that’s the case.”
Alongside the opening of the new colleges — and partly as a product of it — a host of new administrators are settling into their positions. In an email to Yale College Dean’s Office colleagues on Monday, Chun noted that the office has recently welcomed a record over two dozen new members in addition to seeing “a few familiar faces” take on new roles. In addition to Murray’s and Benjamin Franklin’s inaugural college leadership, Morse, Pierson and Silliman colleges are welcoming new deans, and new assistant directors are joining La Casa Cultural and the Asian American Cultural Center, among other administrative changes.
However, the core of the YCDO has remained consistent — something Chun highlighted as a factor that eased his transition.
“I think mainly because it’s a large office with many different units, and each unit has a senior associate dean who are all continuing in their roles,” he said. “And so every person is an expert at what they do. So that aspect of the transition has been going very well.”
In an interview with the News in April, Chun’s predecessor, Jonathan Holloway, expressed his fondness for Chun and said he expects the transition to be “seamless.”
According to Chun, Holloway served as a “fantastic mentor” as he handed over the role. During the transition process, which began immediately after Chun’s appointment was announced in April, Holloway included Chun in meetings with other administrators, regularly met with him one-on-one and maintained frequent contact via email, Chun said.
Dean of Academic Affairs Mark Schenker said that, in order to ensure smooth transitions for new administrators, there are orientations, mentoring and, in some cases, both preservice and in-service training.
Schenker told the News that there is “a lot of collegiality” in the Dean’s Office, and so new hires, as well as people who have been at Yale but who are moving into new roles, receive plenty of support from co-workers.
“Yale College renews itself, as it were, every year when it graduates a class of seniors and welcomes a class of first years,” Schenker said. “It is well able to renew itself administratively as well.”
Chun also noted that new heads and deans receive rigorous and systematic training.
“New deans do ‘Deans School’ in August before they start their jobs and there is constant ongoing mentoring,” Chun said.
As far as new heads of college are concerned, Chun said there is also a ‘Heads School’ which takes place before the beginning of the school year but is slightly shorter than Deans School. The Yale College dean and the chair of the Council of Heads meet with the new college heads to discuss their role within the University, Chun added.
Zainab Hamid | firstname.lastname@example.org