Yale News

Dean of Humanities Amy Hungerford will leave Yale for Columbia University, where she will serve as dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences beginning Jan. 1, 2020.

According to Hungerford, a search firm contacted her last fall with information about the Columbia deanship. She told the News that she was impressed by Columbia’s search committee itself, the excellent faculty and the administrators –– including various deans she met and the university president. In April, the University announced Hungerford had accepted her reappointment to a second five-year term as dean of humanities before Columbia offered her the job.

“It’s a very interesting job,” Hungerford told the News. “It allows me to engage the sciences and the social sciences in a way that I don’t here. And the role requires a substantial and distinctive partnership with the deans for undergraduate, graduate, and professional education. It was a great opportunity at a great university, at a particularly auspicious moment of its history, and I just couldn’t say no.”

Professor of  religious studies Kathryn Lofton will serve as interim dean of the humanities for the 2019-2010 academic year, pending approval by the Board of Trustees. Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Tamar Gendler told the News that she will appoint a faculty committee to advise her in the appointment of a long-term replacement for Hungerford. The committee will provide Gendler with a list of candidates from among the FAS humanities faculty, along with each candidates’ “strengths and challenges.” Gendler says she hopes to select a permanent replacement by late fall or early spring of this upcoming academic year.

Gendler said Yale boasts a “long and proud tradition of training outstanding academic leaders” who part with Yale to accept leadership roles at other institutions.

“We are extremely proud that Amy Hungerford is carrying on this legacy through her appointment as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University,” Gendler wrote in an email to the News. “It is a credit to Dean Hungerford and to Yale.”

During the fall semester, Hungerford will remain on campus to finish work on several projects –– including her leadership of the University Humanities Strategy Committee and the last phase of work on the transformation of 320 York Street into a humanities hub. She will also assist Lofton’s transition through frequent  “daily and weekly” collaboration, according to Hungerford. Even after she formally departs from the University on Dec. 31, she will continue to advise a number of Ph.D. students writing their dissertations, as is often done when a faculty member leaves the University to begin a position elsewhere.

Despite choosing to leave Yale in the upcoming year, Hungerford spoke fondly of her experience with the University –– the place in which she began her career in 1999. When asked what she would miss, she began with a resolute “everything.”

“Yale has been just an idyllic place for me to have my career for the last 20 years. I have dozens of brilliant and beloved colleagues with whom I have worked side by side over the years,” Hungerford said. “I will miss being part of this exceptional university…But, I’ll have the chance to become a part of another one, equally exceptional.”

Carly Wanna | carly.wanna@yale.edu