Tim Tai, Staff Photographer/Yale Daily News

On Thursday, Anjelica Gonzalez and Paul North were announced as the new heads of Davenport College and Jonathan Edwards College, respectively.

Gonzalez, who serves as an associate professor of biomedical engineering and faculty director of Tsai CITY, will be appointed as the next Davenport head of college. She is Mexican American and Black, and will be the first Black woman to serve as head of college in Yale’s history. She will succeed Yale Law professor John Witt ’94 LAW ’99 GRD ’00, who plans to return to teaching and research roles at the University.

North, professor of Germanic languages and literature, will take on the role of head of JE. North is replacing outgoing Head Mark Saltzman, professor of chemical and biomedical engineering, who will also be returning full time to teaching and research. 

The two will begin their terms on July 1.

Gonzalez will come to Davenport with her twin sons, Alex and Jackson. Her appointment was announced in a ceremony for Davenport students Thursday afternoon, where she expressed her desire to immerse herself within the Davenport community and thanked Witt for ushering the college through challenging times over the past few years.

“I’m just here to continue to be part of what’s already great,” Gonzalez said. “And hopefully add a little bit more flavor if I can.”

Gonzalez was the first in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree after studying biological engineering at Utah State University and went on to receive her doctorate from the Baylor College of Medicine. Before coming to Yale, she conducted postdoctoral work in the leukocyte biology and pediatric intensive care unit at Texas Children’s Hospital.

In 2007, Gonzalez joined Yale’s faculty and served as an associate research scientist in the biomedical engineering department. According to a Thursday statement by University President Peter Salovey and Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun, Gonzalez was initially drawn to the University for its reputation both in encouraging multidisciplinary collaborations and for helping faculty members bring discoveries to communities who need them.

At Yale, Gonzalez invented PremieBreathe, which is a low-cost mobile neonatal respiratory device meant to treat the breathing problems of prematurely born babies. Her team has worked to distribute the device to poorly funded hospitals in Ethiopia. 

“A committed educator, [Gonzalez] brings her passion for innovation to the classroom,” Salovey and Chun said in the statement. “She encourages students to utilize all aspects of their life experiences and their hopes for the future to make discoveries and to contribute to their area of study — whether it is in engineering and the sciences or not. This is an approach that she follows in her own life.”

Today, Gonzalez serves as an associate professor of biomedical engineering and conducts research from her own lab, which combines interdisciplinary approaches, from organic chemistry to molecular biology and computer modeling, to design biomimetic materials in pursuit of the investigation of immunology, inflammation and fibrosis.

Gonzalez’s accolades include a Provost’s Teaching Award from Yale, Newsweek/Womensphere Emerging Leaders Global Summit Speaker and NBC’s featured ten Latino Innovators. She has published opinion pieces regarding education and inclusion in the science community in The New York Times.

At Thursday’s ceremony, Gonzalez expressed her excitement for her new appointment, and stated that she would be receptive to comments and advice that students may have during her term. 

“Everything I have I’m offering to you,” Gonzalez said. “It’s my time. It’s my experience. It’s my love of cooking when I can, my love of sewing, my skill. But I’m asking that you contribute to me to help me be better. Help me be a better educator, a better communicator … all the things that can add to your community.”

In an email to the News, Witt expressed his enthusiasm for Gonzalez’ appointment. 

“Davenport is in excellent hands with [Gonzalez],” Witt wrote. “I’m thrilled for the College, its students, its staff, and its fellows. It’s a great new day for a beloved institution.”

North will move into JE this summer alongside his partner, Carolina Baffi, his two children and two cats. His appointment was announced at a 6 p.m. ceremony in JE. 

“I’m a practitioner and theorist of living together,” North wrote to the News, “In research and life I want to discover how it’s done and one thing I’ve learned is you have to do it anew with every new community. It is difficult, but if everyone can take a moment and learn where others’ experiences differ from theirs, we can begin to anticipate each others’ needs and dreams before we express our own. There will be a lot to talk about and go through together. I’m all in for that.”

After growing up in Westchester, New York, North graduated from SUNY Binghamton with a bachelor of arts in English literature, and holds a master’s degree in comparative literature from CUNY Graduate Center and a doctorate in comparative literature studies from Northwestern University. 

In a statement to the News, Salovey wrote that North’s work “informs our understanding” of European imperialism, colonialism and capitalism. 

“Drawing on over two decades of experience in teaching, mentoring, scholarship, and research, he demonstrates to students how a shift in perspective can create the mental and emotional distance needed to confront complex challenges today,” Salovey wrote. 

North has published three critically acclaimed books, as well as numerous articles and book chapters. For his work, he has won several awards and a spot on the editorial board of the Diacritics journal and as an editor on the Fordham University Press. At Yale, he has served on the executive committee of the Humanities Program and on the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Senate, and his research has been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada and other organizations.

“I have greatly enjoyed my conversations with Paul North,” Saltzman wrote in an email to the News. “He is incredibly enthusiastic about getting to know the students, staff, and fellows of JE. I am confident that he will bring his personal warmth to the wonderful JE community, and that he will engage with the important JE traditions and bring new ones.”

North will be joined by his partner Baffi, a lector in Spanish and Portuguese, who will serve as an associate head of JE. Baffi met North while conducting graduate research in Argentina, and she specializes in twentieth-century Latin American literature with a doctorate in Latin American literatures and cultures from Columbia University. 

North and Baffi will also be joined by their two children Theo and Callie, who Salovey wrote are “over the moon” to join the JE community because they are excited to have “big brothers and sisters.” Salovey also shared that Theo is excited to find friends to talk about programming, and Callie is looking for “sparring partners” for taekwondo. 

In Salovey’s announcement to the News, he also wrote that North and his family are excited to join JE’s “legendary close community” and be introduced to JE’s traditions. 

“Professor North, Dr. Baffi, Theo, and Callie are voracious readers and are eager to discuss

favorite books and authors with the JE community,” Salovey wrote. “They also love to listen to music, but because each of them has distinct—and opposing—tastes, they are excited about the prospect of finding like-minded people at JE. Although they may battle over the radio, they all have an appreciation

for home-cooked meals.” 

Both Davenport College and Jonathan Edwards College were founded in 1933. 

Sarah Cook covers student policy and affairs, and she previously covered President Salovey's cabinet. Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, she is a sophomore in Grace Hopper majoring in Neuroscience.
William Porayouw covers Woodbridge Hall and previously reported on international affairs at Yale. Originally from Redlands, California, he is a sophomore in Davenport College majoring in global affairs.