Yale Daily News

Head of Pauli Murray College Tina Lu and Head of Branford College Enrique De La Cruz will stay on in their current positions for another five years, in what will be their second terms as Head of College. 

In emails to the Branford and Pauli Murray communities, University President Peter Salovey and Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun announced the reappointment of Lu and De La Cruz for second terms, extending through June 30, 2027. The reappointment announcements follow reviews by both Branford and Pauli Murray community members, which Chun told the News yielded “very positive comments.”

“I have loved seeing Pauli Murray come together as a community over these last five years,” Lu, who many Pauli Murray students know as Prof T, said. “One of the best things is having the long view of a student’s career which you never get as a teacher. This last commencement was actually the best commencement because those were the kids that I’d seen pull up with their parents for their first years. At the end, when you see this person that you’ve been a part of their lives for four years, it is a joy that is hard to describe. To get to do that for longer is a tremendous privilege.” 

Lu, who is the inaugural head of Pauli Murray, said that for the first two years of her term, every member of the Pauli Murray community was like “baby first years together,” as the culture and operational structure of the college took shape. Now, she said, it was equally exciting to see how the college has integrated into the broader University community as one of Yale’s 14 residential colleges. 

For De La Cruz, a similar love of his residential college community informed his decision to stay on as head for another term. 

“COVID was disruptive, and still is, but there’s still so much to do at Branford,” De La Cruz said. “There are a lot of things I wanted to accomplish that were put on pause and we still have a lot to do. Plus, we simply love our students and the community, so any opportunity to stay with them and welcome new ones is certainly something to strive for.” 

In his time so far at Branford, De La Cruz said he was particularly proud of renovations to the Branford basement and dining hall servery, as well as the addition of a pinball machine to the college game room, which he described as “one of the best things I’ve ever spent my money on.” 

Looking ahead, both Lu and De La Cruz emphasized their excitement for a gradual return to the University traditions that have been limited during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID has been hard on all of us, and our students, our younger people, really suffered a lot in these formative years,” De La Cruz said. “I think rebuilding the community that we worked hard to build when I became head, this community that makes being at Branford and Yale a positive and unforgettable experience for our students is my priority. COVID has taken a lot, but we’re stronger and are in it for the long haul.”

Lu said she was also looking forward to the full restoration of pre-pandemic Yale. 

In the short term, Lu said, she was looking forward to the rest of the intramural sports competition for the Tyng Cup, which she said she has “a strong inkling” Pauli Murray is going to win. 

“The more you know people, and the better you know them, the more you genuinely care for them,” Lu said. “It’s not a kind of artificial caring, it’s the way that you care for people that you know and see all the time. We’re just kind of embedded here, and it’s so great to see people mature and grow, and, we hope, thrive, but also to see people in rough times and to know that those rough times pass. Yalies are great and to live among you is even greater.”

Similarly, De La Cruz emphasized how much he valued the opportunity the role afforded him to get to know Branford students for who they are, through formal events like senior Mellon forums or routine interactions around the college. 

The importance of these routine interactions have made an impression on students in Branford and Pauli Murray, who recalled memories of De La Cruz and Lu that have defined their residential college experiences. 

When he first arrived on campus, Nikhe Braimah ’25 said, he did not arrive until late at night, after the students posted to help welcome first-years had already left.

“Unsure of where to go, I knocked on a random door to ask for help, not knowing it was the back door of Head De La Cruz’s home,” Braimah recalled. “De La Cruz not only left his home in the middle of the night in his PJs and walked me to my room to help me get settled, he did it all with a smile on his face and a genuine enthusiasm for welcoming me to the Branford community. I think this kind of interaction epitomizes the kind of [Head of College] De La Cruz is.”

Braimah emphasized De La Cruz’s investment in the lives and success of students in Branford on an individual basis, setting an example “of what authentic care and friendship looks like,” while still allowing students the space to build their own community. 

Charlene Miciano ’24 also recalled De La Cruz’s attention to individual students, remembering running into him on High Street a few days before moving onto campus for her first year. 

“I immediately recognized him from his welcome emails,” Miciano said. “He was kind enough to welcome my parents, and me to campus and took us into the Branford courtyard. He made me feel so welcomed and my parents really appreciated him taking time to speak with us, even though he seemed super busy.” 

In Pauli Murray, students have also been struck by the individual attention that Lu pays to students. 

Asia Beason ’25 told the News that Lu is always available for a conversation, or with “open arms ready to help in any situation.”

“One thing I’ll never cease to be impressed by is how Prof T knows almost everyone’s name, it makes Murray feel so much more welcoming and personal,” Chet Hewitt ’25 said. “I also think that it helps that we have events so regularly, and there’s never a long stretch where you can’t find something to do.”

Beason was relieved to hear that Lu would be staying on, adding that she did not know if “Murray would be Murray without Prof T.”

“I’ll be honest, I was relieved when I heard Prof T would be staying on for another term,” Hewitt agreed. “I have no idea how anyone else could fill her shoes.”

Lu and De La Cruz were both appointed in 2017. 

Paloma Vigil contributed reporting.

Lucy Hodgman is the editor-in-chief and president of the News. She previously covered student life and the Yale College Council. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, she is a junior in Grace Hopper majoring in English.