Pending the approval of the Yale Corporation — the University’s highest governing body — at its June meeting, Steven Wilkinson will begin a one-year term as acting Faculty of Arts and Sciences dean of social science which will end in June 2022.
Wilkinson — professor of Indian and South Asian studies; professor of political science and international affairs; professor in the Institution for Social and Policy Studies, or ISPS; and Henry R. Luce Director of the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies — will serve alongside the current dean, Alan Gerber ’86, for the fall 2021 semester. Gerber — professor of political science, economics and public health and a professor in the ISPS — served as the dean of social science since its inception in 2014.
“A great university needs a great division of social science, and a great division of social science needs a great academic leader,” Tamar Gendler, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, told the News. “Alan Gerber has been truly transformative as the inaugural FAS dean of social science … and [Wilkinson] has in all of his roles shown a kind of deep integrity and stability [and] a willingness and ability to make difficult choices without abandoning the human aspects of each decision that he makes. I look forward to the opportunity to work with him this year.”
The FAS social science dean oversees the day-to-day and long-term wellness of the seven departments within the FAS Division of Social Science — anthropology, economics, linguistics, political science, psychology, sociology and statistics and data science. Along with FAS Dean of the Humanities Kathryn Lofton, the FAS social science dean is also responsible for cross-divisional programs, such as African American studies; ethnicity, race and migration; and women’s, gender and sexuality studies.
According to an April 28 press release from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, during his tenure, Gerber played an integral role in growing the Department of Statistics and Data Science from a major with fewer than 10 students to over 60 students per class year. Gendler also told the News that as dean of social science, Gerber was “an extraordinary recruiter, retainer, promoter and supporter of faculty in each of the departments.”
Alexandra Apolloni, project specialist in the FAS Dean’s Office, told the News that the incoming dean and outgoing dean serving together this upcoming fall is an approach used by the FAS such to “ease the transition and to ensure a seamless transfer of responsibilities.”
The same was done for Jeffrey Brock ’92, FAS dean of science, and the previous dean, Paul Turner, who stayed on for the 2018 fall term.
Wilkinson, current deputy chair of the FAS Senate and a former chair of the Department of Political Science, wrote to the News in an email that, in preparing for the position, he plans to “learn from as many faculty as [he] can about what their priorities are for their departments and programs, particularly in advancing the excellence and diversity of the division and strengthening our teaching and graduate programs.”
“I’m also looking forward a lot, intellectually, to learning more about the Social Science disciplines where I have less of a foundation, such as Linguistics and Psychology, as well as reading more of the books and papers being written by my colleagues across the division,” Wilkinson wrote, adding his gratitude to Gerber for agreeing to serve alongside him in the fall.