Yale News

Laurie Santos, the celebrity professor who made national headlines for her “Psychology and the Good Life” course, announced on Tuesday that she will step down from her role as Silliman Head of College.

Citing an effort to practice the wellness habits that she espouses in her course, Santos announced in February that she would take a leave from Yale over the 2022-23 academic year to address her feelings of burnout. In a Tuesday evening email to Silliman students, Santos wrote that she would not resume her role as Head of College when she returns to Yale next year. 

Over Santos’ absence last semester, fellow psychology professor Arielle Baskin-Sommers has filled in as interim Head of College. A permanent replacement has not yet been announced, though Dean of Yale College Pericles Lewis told the News that details of the search process will be made available next week. 

“I was very much hoping that a short break would allow me to return with the enthusiasm and energy I wanted to be giving to this wonderful community,” Santos wrote in the email announcement. “But instead, my time away has forced me to realize that the demands of all the new projects I’ve taken on simply won’t allow me to do that well.”

Santos wrote to students that she and her husband plan to remain involved in the Silliman community as college fellows and advisors.

“Professor Santos has been an outstanding head of Silliman College and we are very grateful for her service,” Lewis wrote in an email to the News.

In her email, Santos described some of what she has accomplished since first taking on the role in 2016, including creating The Acorn — Silliman’s student-run coffeeshop — and the Silliman Textbook Library — which offers “tens of thousands of dollars’ worth” of textbooks at no cost to support low-income students. She also referenced various sustainability initiatives, the Silliman basement murals, and annual events like haunted houses and holiday markets as some of her proudest accomplishments. 

Santos declined to offer further comment on Tuesday night and referred to her email announcement.

Ananya Purushottam ’25 reflected favorably on Santos’ impact on her Yale experience as a Silliman student, noting that Santos encouraged students to make mistakes along the way.

“[HoC Santos] encouraged us to ‘screw up’ and to come give her a fist bump any time we did (hugs were reserved for bigger screw ups),” Purshottam wrote. “I know she was an institution to Silliman, and she will definitely be missed.”

Puroshottam also said she “cannot think of a better person” to fill the position than Baskin-Sommers, the current interim head. She specifically pointed to Baskin-Sommers’s “incredibly warm” family and “truly bussing” Silliman events.

Santos joined Yale’s faculty in 2003.

Anika Arora Seth is the 146th Editor in Chief and President of the Yale Daily News. Anika previously covered STEM at Yale as well as admissions, alumni and financial aid. She also laid out the weekly print edition of the News as a Production & Design editor and was one of the inaugural Diversity, Equity & Inclusion co-chairs. Anika is pursuing a double major in biomedical engineering and women's, gender and sexuality studies.
Evan Gorelick is Managing Editor of the Yale Daily News. He previously covered Woodbridge Hall, with a focus on the University's finances, budget and endowment. He also laid out the weekly print edition of the News as a Production and Design Editor. Originally from Woodbridge, Connecticut, he is a junior in Timothy Dwight College double-majoring in English and economics.