Ezra Stiles Dean Nilakshi Parndigamage ’06 will step down on March 10 from her role as college dean to take on a new position within the provost’s office as Academic Initiatives Project Manager.
In a Jan. 16 email sent to the Stiles community, Parndigamage announced her upcoming departure. She wrote that she will also step away from her role as a lecturer in the political science department, where she teaches a popular course on wrongful convictions. In her next role — a newly created position — she will work directly with Provost Scott Strobel and Vice Provost for Strategic Initiatives Megan Barnett to plan major initiatives related to the University’s academic priorities.
“I am a firm believer that Stiles is unique because we are a community that truly cares for each other, has little tolerance for injustice, and is constantly finding ways — inside the classroom and outside — to improve the lives of others,” Parndigamage wrote in her email. “You have taught me a lot about trust, resilience and hope.”
Parndigamage has served as Stiles dean for nearly four years, after assuming the position in summer 2016. A decade before her appointment, she was a student in Trumbull College, and graduated in 2006 with a degree in political science. During her time away from New Haven, she earned a law degree from the University of Virginia Law School in 2010 and worked as an associate at the law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP.
Stiles Head of College Stephen Pitti — who is also stepping down at the end of this academic year — will chair the search for Parndigamage’s successor. Dean Marvin Chun will invite several Stiles students and fellows to serve on the search committee.
“Her wide-ranging intellect, understanding of undergraduate and graduate education, administrative skill, experience as a faculty member, and ethical compass will make her an outstanding leader in the Provost’s Office,” Pitti wrote in an email to the Stiles community on Jan 16.
In the email announcing her decision to step down, Parndigamage said that while her time as dean may soon formally come to an end, she looks forward to cheering on Stilesians from her new office, which is “around the corner and down the road.” She also said in an interview with the News that she hopes to return to teaching her “Wrongful Convictions” course in the future. In the spring of 2019, the seminar was one of the highest-ranked classes in the political science department on CourseTable — a student-run course evaluations database.
When Parndigamage joined the Stiles community, she and her husband Patrick Lynch, who works as a city planner, had one 18-month-old son, Gihan, and a pet cat, affectionately known as Machang-the-Menace. At two and a half years old, their daughter Ayanthi has only ever known Stiles as a home.
“We’re definitely going to miss her … it’s really awesome seeing her and her kids in the dining hall on a daily basis,” Stilesian Pierce Daly ’23 said. “She’s so approachable and that’s pretty hard to find.”
Ezra Stiles College was opened in 1962.
Olivia Tucker | firstname.lastname@example.org