Yale News

John Bollier, vice president for facilities and campus development, who oversees the construction and renovation of the University’s physical spaces, will retire at the start of the spring semester.

University President Peter Salovey and Vice President Jack Callahan announced Bollier’s retirement in a November email to Yale faculty and staff. Bollier has worked at the University for nearly three decades and in his current position oversaw the construction of a series of significant campus expansions, including the construction of the Tsai Center for Innovation Thinking at Yale, the Yale Science Building and the renovation of the Humanities Quadrangle. He will depart the position of vice president on Jan. 14, 2022.

“Since his arrival at Yale in 1992, John has contributed to the development and expansion of our campus and physical plant to support Yale’s mission of education, research, preservation, and practice,” Salovey and Callahan wrote in the email. “John leaves a lasting legacy at Yale; our campus is more vibrant, sustainable, and connected thanks to his leadership.”

Bollier began his career at Yale at the School of Medicine, first as a facilities capital project manager and subsequently as the leader of the medical school’s facilities operations group. In 2008, he began leading the campus-wide implementation of planning and capital projects, and in 2018 took on his current role.

In an email to the News, Bollier reflected on his legacy at Yale, the impact of the pandemic on his role and the challenges that his successor is likely to face.

Describing his proudest accomplishment in his most recent role, Bollier wrote: “First, working with L35 [Local-35 Union] leadership to achieve a more effective labor-management relationship than 30 years ago. Second, after significant renovation and new construction, the campus now feels more connected and vibrant than it did 30 years [ago].”

He further elaborated on the impact that the pandemic had on his job, as well as his understanding of the role of physical spaces on campus. 

In particular, he said that the pandemic has increased his appreciation for outdoor spaces as alternative locations for gatherings in order to accommodate for social distancing.

“Operationally, Facilities needed to develop work processes to keep our employees and community safe, while still accomplishing the cleaning and maintenance work necessary to support campus activities,” Bollier wrote, reflecting on the effects of the pandemic. “Equally challenging were some planning issues regarding the re-occupancy of campus in the Fall of 2020 – such as determining the occupancy of all teaching spaces given the size, shape, and available HVAC at these spaces.”

The role has also been more challenging in the last two years, he said. Among those challenges include having to halt construction altogether at the start of the pandemic in order to adhere to public safety regulations and more recently, supply chain related issues. Despite the setbacks, Bollier said that he and his team have adapted to them well.

Salovey further explained that Bollier’s wide-ranging academic background has made him particularly qualified for this role.

“He’s really quite unique in people who are in charge of University buildings and grounds in that he has an academic background in architecture, an academic background in engineering and academic background in management business,” Salovey said in an interview. “And I think that made him really well-suited for a position that is going to determine the look and functionality of our campus.”

Salovey also said that the numerous projects Bollier has overseen have made the campus feel “more integrated [and] … welcoming.”

Looking forward, Salovey noted that one of the main focuses for Bollier’s successor will be the construction of further new spaces for the sciences and engineering on Science Hill. He also noted that much of the medical school is housed in old and “sub-optimal” buildings and that the Drama School and School of Public Health are both housed in a number of buildings — consolidating them will be a goal of Bollier’s successor.

The University has enlisted the help of headhunters to find a successor and hopes to have the position filled by the end of the spring semester, according to Salovey.

Philip Mousavizadeh covers Woodbridge Hall, the President's Office. He previously covered the Jackson Institute. He is a sophomore in Trumbull College studying Ethics, Politics, and Economics