April Ruiz ’05 — dean of Grace Hopper College, dean of first-year scholars at Yale and lecturer in the Cognitive Science and Psychology departments — will leave Yale over spring break, she announced in an email to the Hopper community on Thursday morning. Ruiz said she has accepted a position at another institution but cannot disclose any details until it formally announces her appointment after spring break.
“One can never control when these sorts of opportunities present themselves, and the decision to accept [the offer] is not one I made lightly,” Ruiz told the News. “Just as I’ve always encouraged my students to pursue paths that will push them forward, I know they will support me as I do so.”
Ruiz, who served as Hopper dean for four years, helped the college community navigate a tumultuous renaming process, during which students, staff, faculty and alumni debated whether or not Hopper College — formerly known as Calhoun College — should retain its connection to American statesman and outspoken slavery advocate John C. Calhoun, class of 1804. The University announced in February that Calhoun College would be renamed in honor of Grace Hopper GRD ’34, a United States Navy Rear Admiral who made pivotal advances in computer science.
Once the spring semester begins, Yale College Dean Marvin Chun will work with Head of Hopper College Julia Adams to select an interim dean. Adams and Chun will also form a committee to advise Chun as he chooses a new dean in time for the fall 2018 semester.
“We will have an opportunity later this semester to thank Dean Ruiz for her service to Grace Hopper College and to Yale College, but in the meantime I hope you will join me in congratulating her on this new position and wishing her the best as she begins this new chapter,” Chun wrote in an email notifying faculty of the news.
Adams told the News that Ruiz “is caring, highly competent and has community spirit second to none.” Both Adams and Chun said that she would be missed greatly by the community.
In her announcement email, Ruiz thanked her colleagues and friends in the Hopper community for “relationships [she] will forever cherish.” Yale has played a significant role in Ruiz’s life; she noted in her email that she spent her undergraduate years at Yale and first lived with her husband in the Hopper dean’s apartment.
“My Hopper students have been such a light, and saying goodbye later this semester will be very hard to do,” Ruiz wrote in an email to the News. “While I could point to a ‘big moment’ like the college’s name change as something that stands out to me, I think my heart will instead always turn to everyday moments … hilarious exchanges on my FroCo-team group chat, watching students play fetch with my dog, celebrating with my students when they got into a group or program they were hoping to.”
Nick Dell Isola ’18, a first-year counselor in Hopper, said that Ruiz’s commitment to community helped make Hopper one of the tightest-knit colleges on campus. Though the Hopper community is “probably devastated” that she is leaving, Dell Isola said, her future institution will benefit greatly from her presence.
Another first-year counselor, Eli Ceballo-Countryman ’18, said that she struggled with living in what was formerly known as Calhoun College, given the connotations of the name. But Ruiz offered support and leadership during the controversy surrounding the name change, she added.
“Dean Ruiz embodied all the reasons I stayed in the college. She prioritized listening to [students] and ensured students were heard. She ensured all in the college community felt her support,” Ceballo-Countryman said. “From concussions to media frenzies, I’ve always known my dean would be an invaluable resource always available to me.”
Katie McCleary ’18, another Hopper FroCo, said that Ruiz’s humor and empathy carried the Hopper community through the transition from Calhoun to Hopper.
“We will miss her immensely, but she has prepared our community to survive and flourish during transition,” McCleary said.
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