Courtesy of Pierson College
Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun invited members of the Pierson College to the dining hall on Thursday to announce their new dean: venture capital lecturer Jorge M. Torres ’96.
Torres — who currently teaches a residential college seminar on venture capital — first came to work at the University in 2017. According to Chun’s announcement, Torres has served in recent years as a mentor for the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale. Current Dean of Pierson College Riché Barnes, who was appointed in 2017, announced in September that she would be leaving her position at the end of 2019 for a tenured position at Mount Holyoke College. Torres, who attended the dining hall announcement, told the News in an email that he is “incredibly honored by the appointment and very excited to return to Yale.”
“I am pleased to report that, after consulting with professor [Stephen Davis GRD ’98] and a committee of Pierson College fellows and students, I have appointed Mr. Jorge M. Torres to be the next dean of Pierson College,” Chun wrote in an email on Thursday to Pierson affiliates following the announcements. “For the past 20 years, he has worked as a research scientist, a college and career adviser, an intellectual property lawyer and an early-stage venture capitalist investor.”
After Barnes announced her planned departure from Yale, Davis — head of Pierson College — convened and led a search committee for her replacement. Associate Vice President of Student Life Dean Burgwell Howard wrote to the News in an email that the search committee — comprised of three Pierson students, a Woodbridge fellow, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Chair Shawkat Toorawa and Howard — began the search process by advertising the position in Pierson.
Howard noted that the Yale College Dean’s Office keeps an “active file” of people who might be interested in serving as a Dean of College at Yale. He added that “these are highly sought-after opportunities.” Howard underscored that the committee was “representative of the diversity of interests, academic involvement and perspectives” within Pierson, in addition to “[caring] deeply for the residential college experience.” In September, Davis told the News that the committee planned on submitting a list of qualified candidates to Chun, who made the final decision.
“Our committee sifted through dozens of talented applicants, identified several for initial video interviews and invited a small number for on-campus conversations with students and staff within the Pierson community, the search committee, as well as key campus partners that residential college deans frequently interact with,” Howard said.
According to Howard, Torres “surfaced as a candidate” because people in the broader Yale and La Casa communities “thought he might be a good fit.” In his announcement, Chun mentioned that Torres was active in Despierta Boricua — Yale’s Puerto Rican student organization — and initiatives to support New Haven’s Latinx community during his time as a Yale College student.
In his email, Howard noted that it is “meaningful” for the committee to have Torres’ “Latinx perspective represented among [the] residential college deans.” As dean of Pierson College, Howard said, Torres will add to “the network of support for Latinx students within the Yale College community.”
“Dean Torres emerged as a clear choice in our process, given his familiarity with the experience of Yale students — both as a lecturer and as a graduate,” Howard wrote. “However, what won us over, was his ability to listen deeply to the experience of students, faculty and staff and offer advice, care and support … I believe that he will be a wonderful compliment to Dr. Davis, in his role as head of college, and will continue the work that Dean Barnes and Dr. Davis have forged for making Pierson an inclusive and caring residential community.”
While Howard emphasized that Barnes “has been an exceptional dean” who will be missed after she departs, he said that they “are very excited” about Torres’ appointment and plan on helping him adjust to his new position. He added that the senior associate deans at Yale will work with Torres to familiarize him with “policies and procedures.” Howard added that Pierson first-year counselors and other students will also help Torres “get to know all members of the Pierson community.”
Chun wrote in his email that Torres “has an ardent interest in discovering new cuisines,” adding that Torres is “known to lead food tours to his favorite restaurant and hidden neighborhood spots.” According to the announcement, Torres would spend “his ideal weekend … bingeing on a documentary or historical drama on Netflix while roasting a well-seasoned pernil in the oven.” Torres plans on including a freshwater aquarium in the dean’s suite after settling in, Chun wrote, in an effort to “[resurrect] his fishkeeping hobby.”
Piersonite Claire Calkins ’22 said the Pierson community will miss Barnes after she departs, but added that Torres can bring his own strengths to the college community.
“We absolutely love Dean Barnes and the energy that she constantly brings to the Pierson community,” Calkins said. “Dean Torres has big shoes to fill, but I think he has both the compassion and experience to be a new force for change.
Tsai CITY was launched in 2017.
Alayna Lee | firstname.lastname@example.org
Correction, Dec. 18: This article has been updated to clarify that, during his ideal weekend, Torres would roast a well-seasoned pernil in the oven, not a “permil.”