Astrophysics professor Larry Gladney will leave the University of Pennsylvania to join Yale and serve as the Faculty of Arts and Science dean of diversity and faculty development, FAS Dean Tamar Gendler announced in an email to FAS faculty on Wednesday.

Effective January 1, 2019, Gladney will succeed Religious Studies Chair Kathryn Lofton, who has held the part-time position of deputy dean of diversity and faculty development on an interim basis since July 2016. Gladney will serve as dean of diversity and faculty development on a full-time basis.

Gladney is currently the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Professor for Faculty Excellence in the University of Pennsylvania’s department of physics and astronomy as well as the associate dean for natural sciences at its School of Arts and Sciences, which Gendler compared to the position of FAS dean of science within Yale’s FAS governance.  

Gladney told the News in an email that he was drawn to the position because of the “intention, commitment and energy” he saw within Yale’s faculty to improve inclusion and diversity.

“That bottom-up drive, coupled with the vision of the administration and the commitment to provide needed resources, convinced me that Yale is on the path to being the model institution for excellence through diversity for research institutions,” Gladney said. “I am proud to be on that path with Yale.”

In the wake of protests and discussions about race and inclusion in the fall of 2015, Yale President Peter Salovey announced the creation of the position of FAS dean of diversity to promote an intellectually, socially and culturally diverse faculty. According to Gendler, the University has been searching for someone to fill the full-time position since then.

As FAS dean of diversity and faculty development, Gladney will sit on key FAS and University governance committees, including the FAS Steering Committee and the FAS Faculty Resource Committee, which reviews requests from departments and programs for ladder faculty resources and searches, and recommends approved searches to the FAS Dean. He will also advise Salovey, University Provost Ben Polak and Gendler on campus-wide issues of faculty development and diversity.

Upon the start of his tenure, Gladney plans to first learn as much as possible about what Yale does that positively impacts faculty recruitment, development and retention. After that, he hopes to help Yale figure out how to “get out of its own way” in making the necessary changes while preserving what already works well.

He hopes to partner with other FAS faculty to begin having difficult conversations about diversity so that he can use their insight and opinions to remake Yale as an institution “to reflect the values appropriate to all its highest aspirations.”“Tapping just a fraction of that talent, creativity and energy to improve how we broaden the
definition of who fits, who belongs, and how we ensure that we find those who truly impact
the institution through their scholarship and ensure they find a home here that optimally supports them takes more than just one administrator, but I hope to help lead that effort,” Gladney said.

Serving as a full faculty member will help foster natural ways of connecting with faculty and students throughout the University is remaining , Gladney said, so he hopes to continue his own research and teaching while serving as FAS dean of diversity.

During his tenure at the University of Pennsylvania, Gladney served as chair of the physics and astronomy department, as well as chair of the university’s faculty senate and principal investigator of the Penn Science Teacher Institute.

In what Gendler called “a longstanding commitment to institutional equity,” Gladney has taught science to middle school students and instructors through outreach programs and received the Outstanding Community Service Award from the Black Graduate Professional Students’ Association at the University of Pennsylvania.

Gladney’s research as an astrophysicist attempts to better understand the origins and connections between matter, energy, space and time. Most recently, he worked on the planning of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, an observatory under construction in Chile designed to measure the expansion history of the universe. As an astrophysicist, Gladney has served on various review panels for the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation, and receives continuous funding in the form of grants from both entities.  

Adelaide Feibel | adelaide.feibel@yale.edu