Yale News

Larry Gladney, former dean for the natural sciences and professor of faculty excellence at the University of Pennsylvania, has assumed the position of dean of diversity, a role established in the wake of the 2015 student protests concerning race and inclusion on campus.

Appointed this summer, Gladney, who is also a professor of physics, left his position at the University of Pennsylvania in 2018 and began his full-time role as dean on Jan. 1. Gladney told the News he will promote several specific initiatives, including the Faculty Excellence and Diversity Initiative –– a central portion of the University’s mission to recruit and retain underrepresented minorities within its faculty –– and support “an inclusive and equitable environment in FAS for graduate students, postdoctoral scholars and non-ladder faculty.”

“The first goal for me is to learn Yale culture and explore with the faculty the ways we can adapt to attract, recruit and retain the very best faculty possible,” Gladney said. “The principal goal is for Yale to be the leading university in this regard. Achieving that necessarily means that we will be more diverse and inclusive as excellence and diversity are inextricably linked.”

Gladney succeeds Kathryn Lofton, professor of religious studies who held the position on a part-time, interim basis under the title of deputy dean of diversity and faculty development. According to Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Tamar Gendler, the FAS Dean for Diversity and Faculty Development oversees “issues of diversity and faculty development for all faculty across the FAS.”

Gendler said that Gladney will sit on major FAS committees, such as the FAS Steering Committee and the Faculty Resource Committee –– which oversees allocation of FAS hiring searches. Along with the other FAS deans — including the deans of humanities, social science, sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences — Gladney will foster “diversity and accessibility; academics excellence and innovation; and cross-departmental, cross-divisional and cross-school intellectual synergy,” according to Gendler.

“Professor Gladney will oversee FAS efforts to promote faculty diversity and excellence across the FAS departments, and cultivate structures and cultures that allow faculty to thrive and do their best work as scholars, teachers and citizens,” Gendler said.

Gladney began his career at the University of Pennsylvania as an assistant professor of physics in 1988 before becoming a full professor in 2005. Three years later, he was named the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Professor for Faculty Excellence, a position he has held for more than a decade.

While at the University of Pennsylvania, Gladney told the News that he became acquainted with methods for recruiting diverse faculty, especially in the sciences. He said that his former institution’s recent successes in such measures partially derived from “learning how to have sometimes difficult discussions,” as well as changes he implemented concerning how faculty searches are conducted. According to Gladney, these practices often require minor changes, such as eliminating gender-preferential language when considering applicants for positions.

In 2011, Penn dedicated $50 million over the course of five years to further faculty diversity and campus inclusivity. In 2015, Yale similarly promised the same amount of money as part of the Faculty Excellence and Diversity Initiative.

“I hope my presence at Yale helps inspire similarly mindful approaches here,” Gladney said. “Filling my current role at Yale required the scholarly community here to convince a scholar and administrator that significant change is possible here. The ambition to be a national leader and the commitment by the community, not just the administration, to take on the task of changing the face of the faculty is what convinced me to come.”

Gladney is a member of several teams that aim to support faculty in both research and teaching capacities, including through the Scholars as Leaders, Scholars as Learners initiatives, which intended to allow professors to further their own education through initiatives like classes and leadership training programs. Gladney will also look to further develop “emerging scholars” programs in the humanities and social sciences and “bridge-to-the-PhD” programs in the sciences intended to “provide research education for underrepresented bachelor’s degree recipients.” He also hopes to focus on developing more interdisciplinary learning opportunities.

Lofton, who chaired the committee that recommended Gladney’s hire to Gendler, said that she believes Gladney’s compassion and scientific expertise will greatly contribute to the University.

“To meet Larry Gladney is to know immediately why we picked him,” she said. “He is a brilliant astrophysicist who possesses an uncanny understanding of human nature. He understands complex institutions, and he is indefatigable in his commitment to make more equitable universities.”

Gladney’s office is located at Warner House 301.

Carly Wanna | carly.wanna@yale.edu .