Miranda Wollen, Contributing Photographer

Benjamin Franklin students and faculty members filled the college’s dining hall Thursday evening to welcome their new Head of College,  Jordan Peccia.

The Thomas E. Golden Jr. Professor of Environmental Engineering and chair of the chemical and environmental engineering department will begin his five-year term as head in July.

“For the students, as well as for my family, Benjamin Franklin College is more than an institution within Yale; it is our home,” Peccia wrote to the News on the morning of the announcement. “I can’t wait to work together to build a welcoming and engaging environment that provides the strong home base that is necessary for all of us to flourish.”

Peccia — whose laboratory work at Yale ranges from COVID wastewater surveillance to research on microbial genetics and greenhouse gas emissions — has worked at the University since 2005. 

Yale College Dean Pericles Lewis wrote to Franklinites about Peccia’s dedication to his craft and eagerness for hands-on engagement. Peccia has worked with the university’s Engineers Without Borders program for a decade, and helped convince the World Health Organization that SARS-CoV-2 could be transmitted through air.

“In research, Professor Peccia seeks to have an impact on big problems facing the world, and when his laboratory can contribute to addressing them, it gets involved,” Lewis explained. “He seeks to do the same in teaching and service.”

Lewis introduced Peccia, his wife Melissa Castleman and their 14-year-old son Julian to a round of warm applause. Their eight-year-old labrador Dash was absent from the ceremony.

Soon-to-be Associate Head of College Castleman is a writer and novelist; their son, according to Peccia, is a proficient and enthusiastic cookie-maker.

“I spend a lot of time working on environmental catastrophes,” Peccia said. “She works on food, wine and travel. I think she maybe had it right.”

The ceremony continued with a welcome speech from outgoing head Charles Bailyn, who has served in the role since 2016. Bailyn announced his departure in February of 2022, garnering mixed reactions from Franklin students. 

“The new leader and guide here will be a person of great imagination, joie de vivre and deep intelligence, who will lead this college to heights unheard of,” Bailyn described of his successor. 

He noted the importance of community in Franklin and the University at large before welcoming Peccia to the position. At the podium, Peccia began his inaugural speech by introducing his family and four of his PhD students, expressing gratitude for their support.

“My message to you today is simple,” Peccia told Franklinites. “We are in this together.”

The professor expressed his desire to make the space safe, warm and welcoming for all Franklinites, and to make Franklin “a strong home base” for its students.

Peccia further noted the unique position Franklin holds as a comparatively young college.

“I hope that we all recognize this opportunity to build culture, traditions and history,” Peccia added. “And what an incredible opportunity it is.”

At the end of the ceremony, Peccia was greeted by waves of eager Franklinites and congratulatory friends.

Franklin students expressed excitement about Peccia’s appointment and curiosity about what he might bring to the community next year.

“It really does feel like we’re in it together at the start of something new,” Rose Hansen ’25 told the News after his speech. “Today it hit me how cool that is.”

Peccia will begin his role as Head of College on July 1, 2023.

Miranda Wollen is the University Editor for the News; she also writes very silly pieces for the WKND section. She previous covered Faculty and Academics, and she is a junior in Silliman College double-majoring in English and Classics.