In fall 2016, University President Peter Salovey emphasized his commitment to strengthening the sciences at Yale at a facultywide town hall
With the hiring of 46 new members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences this academic year, the University is striving to make good on that promise.
As a result of last year’s searches, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences has added five faculty members to the Mathematics Department, four to the data sciences and four to computer sciences — with two of the mathematics hires slated to start next academic year.
In the past few years, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences has never brought in more than two professors a year specializing in data science, according to Dean of Faculty of Arts and Sciences Tamar Gendler. To have four accept the offer this year — the highest number among Yale’s peer institutions — is “wonderful,” Gendler said.
“We have been looking to grow in the areas that are of intellectual interest,” She said. “We’re very eager to hire people in math and data science. There is spectacular student interest and extremely interesting new research in these areas.”
Wilhem Schlag, who started his tenure as a mathematics professor this academic year, said Yale’s commitment to investing in the sciences and expanding the Mathematics Department contributed to his decision to leave the University of Chicago for Yale.
“The Math Department is in an exciting period,” Schlag said. “Yale knows that mathematics is in a transitional period, and I want to be part of this effort to strengthen mathematics [at Yale].”
Schlag added that Yale is able to offer financial resources that the University of Chicago could not. For example, the University has allowed Schlag to bring a 20-year collaborator of his from the University of Toronto, Michael Goldstein, to Yale next year to work on research with him.
Although the reasons for incoming political science and statistics and data science professor Joshua Kalla ’14’s to come to Yale are partly personal in nature — he was an undergraduate in Morse College just five years ago — Kalla called Yale’s Statistics and Data Sciences Department “truly innovative and forward-thinking.”
“By bringing together faculty from across the university, Statistics and Data Sciences is ensuring that students have access to teaching in the methodological and computational skills necessary to be a data scientist as well as the substantive knowledge from disciplines such as political science needed to be able to apply those skills to solving the world’s problems,” Kalla said.
When he begins his tenure as a Yale professor next January, Kalla said he hopes to be an inspiration for his students — just as his professors were for him during his undergraduate years at Yale.
Though this year’s hiring process was particularly successful within the sciences, Gendler cited various high-level hirings in the social sciences and humanities, such as Mark Peterson and David Engerman, the former chairs of the History Departments at University California, Berkeley and Brandeis University.
Gendler told the News that hiring a diverse faculty body “remains a top priority to the [Faculty of Arts and Sciences].” Of the 88 faculty members who have joined the FAS in the past two years, nine identify as underrepresented minorities and 17 identify as nonwhite. Forty-two of those individuals identify as male, while 46 identify as female or nonbinary.
All three of the new Art History Department faculty members starting this academic year are women of color. And L.A. Paul will be the seventh nonmale tenure-track faculty member in the 25-member Philosophy Department — a department that, like the broader field, has long been male-dominated.
Paul, whose research lies at the intersection of cognitive science, psychology and philosophy, worked at Yale about 15 years ago as a junior faculty member in the philosophy department. In an interview with the News, she said she admired the department and loved teaching Yale undergraduates.
Paul said she hopes to contribute to a positive atmosphere within the department, which she called “a really cool place” with “just a bit of bad luck.”
“I think it’s a good place,” Paul said of Yale’s philosophy department. “I want to help demonstrate to the profession that it’s a good place, and be super supportive of people who identify as female make it an intellectually challenging but supportive environment for all.”
Adelaide Feibel | firstname.lastname@example.org