Dean of Saybrook College Christine Muller and Dean of Berkeley College Renita Miller will step down from their posts at Yale at the end of this academic year. Muller and Miller will take on new roles at Wilkes University and Princeton University, respectively.
For current Berkeley juniors, Miller’s departure means they will have seen at least three deans pass through their residential college by the time they graduate next year.
Other colleges are also undergoing administrative turnaround. With Dean Sarah Insley’s return to Branford College following maternity leave, former interim Dean of Branford Fadila Habchi will now fill in for the former Dean of Hopper April Ruiz ’05. Ruiz left Yale this past month to become an associate dean at Williams College.
Miller — who currently teaches the seminar “Race, Representation and Education Policy” — has accepted a position at Princeton as associate dean of access, diversity and inclusion in the Graduate School. She became dean of Berkeley two years ago. Muller, who has been at Saybrook for six years, will become the director of the Honor Program and assistant professor of American studies at Wilkes University.
“It has been a rewarding privilege to serve for six years as the dean of Saybrook College,” Muller wrote in a March 21 email to Saybrook students. “I am grateful to have been part of this community — the students, the dining and facilities staff, the graduate affiliates, and the Fellows, as well as Head of College [Thomas] Near, [Associate Head of Saybrook College] Allison Near, Micah, Ann Marie, and (last but the opposite of least) Cissy.”
Ann Marie Gilmore, Micah Luce and Cissy Armstrong work in the Saybrook College Office and Dean’s Office.
Miller also spoke highly of her time at Yale. She told the News that her deanship “has been one of the most meaningful roles I have had the honor of taking on in my professional career.”
“The big moments like our epic move-in day celebration, graduation, class day, ThunderBrunch, capture the flag, Sophs’more dinners, Senior Commonplace Society, etc. are permanently cemented in my heart,” Miller wrote in a March 19 email to students announcing her departure.
Miller came to Yale after serving as director of studies at Forbes College and the director of the Princeton Summer Undergraduate Research Experience. After a year of tense debates about diversity and inclusion at Yale, she met a warm reception from Berkeley students, in part on account of her experience studying race and gender in political institutions.
Muller, a lecturer in Yale’s department of American Studies, has focused her academic work on the beginning of the 21st century and the cultural impact of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. She currently teaches a seminar at Yale titled “Trauma in American Film & TV,” which focuses on how popular cultural entertainment processes traumatic events. She recently published a book, “September 11, 2001 as a Cultural Trauma: A Case Study through Popular Culture.”
Head of Saybrook Thomas Near said that Muller, beyond acting as both a practical and empathetic mentor to Saybrook students “in all aspects of her job,” deserves praise for her academic achievements.
“We’re all very proud of her at Saybrook because, in my experience, it has been infrequent that a residential college dean launches into a tenure track faculty position at a university,” Near said. “She is a respected and accomplished scholar.”
Muller came to Saybrook in 2012 after working at the University of Maryland, where she also earned her doctorate, and Villanova University, which she attended as both an undergraduate and graduate student. She succeeded Paul McKinley DRA ’96, who is now Yale’s director of strategic communications.
Students in the Saybrook and Berkeley communities said they would remember both deans as effective and involved administrators.
“[Muller] is highly involved in Saybrook events and regularly eats at the [Saybrook] long table with students,” said Sam Rimm-Kaufman ’20, an aide in Saybrook. “Her calm energy has made academic advising painless and makes going into her office a positive experience. I’ve had my fair share of both positive and negative experiences with her as my dean, mainly because she takes her job very seriously and always plays by the rules.”
Martin Lim ’18, a first-year counselor in Berkeley and a former Copy Editor for the News, said that Miller has been incredibly understanding and approachable as an administrator. He added, though, that it is unfortunate she will be leaving “so soon, since I felt she was only just finding her footing and style in and around Berkeley.”
Ethan Young ’18, the chief aide of Berkeley, said that the college has been a “revolving door” in the past few years when it comes to the head of college, college dean, administrative assistants, operations manager, facilities manager and dining hall manager.
“I’m always sad to see those people go because I do think we generally have exceptional leadership,” Young said. “On the other hand I think that the fact that the traditions and most of the college’s operations have run smoothly just speaks to the fact that there is such a network of established people who work in the dean’s and the head of college’s office who keep things running.”
The dean who preceded Miller at Berkeley, Mia Genoni, served from 2010 to 2016.
Britton O’Daly | email@example.com
Correction, March 26: An earlier version of this article said that Mia Gianonni preceded Miller as Berkeley dean. In fact, her name is Mia Genoni.