Faculty of Arts & Sciences

Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences Tamar Gendler will leave her post for six months. Humanities dean Kathryn Lofton will serve as acting dean.

The change was announced by University President Peter Salovey Wednesday morning. Lofton will assume the responsibilities of dean from Jan. 1, 2023 to June 30, 2023. During this time, Gendler will spend time teaching, working with the University’s “For Humanity” campaign and recovering from COVID-19, before resuming the role on June 1, 2023. 

The Faculty of Arts & Sciences Dean oversees faculty appointments and promotions, as well as the management of the FAS budget. The FAS which has over a thousand tenured and non-tenured faculty in 40 departments and programs that span the humanities, social science and science divisions.

 Lofton, who joined the Yale faculty in 2009, is a leading scholar of religion and has served as dean of the humanities since 2019.

“Our faculty are brilliant as scholars and brilliantly opinionated as faculty members,” Lofton told the News. “I look forward to listening to them about how to best serve their interests … I am honored to continue [Gendler’s] work.”

Since her tenure in 2013, Lofton has served as the inaugural deputy dean of diversity and faculty development in the FAS, chair of LGBT studies, chair of the program in women’s, gender and sexuality studies and as chair of the Department of Religious Studies. She became FAS dean of humanities after former humanities dean Amy Hungerford accepted an offer to lead the FAS at Columbia University in 2019.

According to Salovey, Lofton strengthened Yale’s presence in the humanities and played a major role in the Humanities Quadrangle project during her time as dean.

For Lofton, the decision to assume Gendler’s role will require her to temporarily take a step back from teaching.

“I had plans to teach this spring in Directed Studies, which I was excited to do for the first time,” Lofton wrote. “Adding this role meant handing that teaching to another excellent faculty member. I hope to teach DS in spring 2024 instead.”

During her respite, Gendler plans to teach “Public Plato: Ancient Wisdom in the Digital Age,” an undergraduate humanities course. The course aims to understand how ancient philosophy engages contemporary audiences by exploring core texts from the Western philosophical tradition, studying large-scale experiments and curating digital educational resources. 

In addition to teaching, Gendler will also spend time representing the FAS in the University’s “For Humanity” campaign. The five-year capital campaign — which was launched last October — aims to raise $7 billion to support the university’s functions. As of June 2022, the campaign had raised $4.2 billion.

“Dean Gendler has done a terrific job in building a team that is well prepared to continue to support faculty research and teaching while she is on leave,” FAS dean of social science Kenneth Scheve wrote in an email to the News. “Dean Lofton is such a positive, energetic university citizen. FAS is fortunate to have her to lead us. Across the social sciences, we have an exciting set of faculty searches and I am looking forward to working with Katie in recruiting a remarkable group of new scholars to Yale.”

Dean of science Larry Gladney expressed confidence in the future of the FAS, adding that “[Dean Gendler] has recruited a strong team to cover the responsibilities of the FASDO.” 

Shawkat Toorawa, chair of near eastern languages and civilizations, described Lofton as the “ideal person to have at the helm of FAS”.

“It has been inspiring to work with Dean Lofton,” Toorawa wrote in an email to the News. “She is a person who treats everyone — administrators, chairs, faculty, staff and students — with respect and allyship, and is deeply committed to the institution’s core mission.”

In addition to faculty searches, the FAS Dean’s Office oversees promotions, retention and compensation for ladder, instructional and research faculty in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Other responsibilities of the office include departmental staffing, budgeting, strategic planning, and policymaking throughout the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Positions in the FAS dean’s office are held by both ladder faculty and administrative staff.

“Dean Lofton is a superlatively competent administrator with a passion for the mission of this university,” Phillip Goff, chair of African American studies, wrote to the News. “We are all exceptionally lucky that she can step into the breach and lead while Dean Gendler recovers. I can say that the faculty with whom I’ve spoken are grateful for her service and eager to support her as she takes on an even larger role making Yale possible.”

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences contains more than 1,000 faculty that span the divisions of humanities, social science and science. 

Alex Ye covers faculty and academics. He previously covered the endowment, finance and donations. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, he is a sophomore in Timothy Dwight majoring in applied mathematics.