David Zheng

Head of Grace Hopper College Julia Adams announced to the Hopper community on Jan. 18 that she will be stepping down from her role at the end of the semester. She had served two five-year terms as Hopper’s Head.

Adams, a professor of sociology, came to Yale in 2004 after a teaching stint at the University of Michigan. She served as Head of College with her husband, Associate Head of College Hans van Dijk. 

“​​The decade of struggle, change, and reconstruction that I have been privileged to be a part of and shepherd through, as the last Master of Calhoun and then the inaugural Head of Grace Hopper College, has been momentous for not just the college community but also the University,” Adams wrote in her message to the Hopper community. 

During her tenure, Adams oversaw the college change names from Calhoun — named for the slavery advocate and white supremacist John C. Calhoun, class of 1804 — to Grace Hopper GRD ’34, a United States Navy Rear Admiral who made advances in computer science. 

The change came after months of campus protests demanding the college change its name, during which University administrators originally told the residential college’s community that the college would retain its namesake. During this period, Adams initially supported a name change to Calhoun-Douglass College, named after the African-American abolitionist Frederick Douglass. 

In February 2017, University President Peter Salovey announced that the college would be renamed to Grace Hopper College, 86 years after the college was established with its original name. Adams presided over the college as it has reshaped its identity in the seven years since.  

Adams wrote to the News that the years between 2014 and 2017 were the “most dramatic period, full of debate and transformation,” followed by years of “reforging college traditions old and new.” 

“Grace Hopper College became Grace Hopper College during her tenure,” Hopper Dean David Francis wrote to the News. “And that was no small feat.”

Also during Adams’ tenure, last semester, anti-Palestine messages in English and Hebrew — such as “Death to Palestine” — were written on an entryway whiteboard in Hopper. In a subsequent email to all Hopper students, Adams described Yale as a place in which “academic freedom and the expression of views and dissent are rightly protected” and urged adherence to “accepted standards of mutual tolerance” without explicitly mentioning the whiteboard messages.

Over the last 10 years, Hopper has also undergone changes to its iconography, such as new stained glass windows, a new coat of arms, mascot and a student-made trident in the college’s dining hall.

Alex Moore ’26, a co-president of the Hopper College Council, wrote to the News that Adams has been “amazingly supportive” of Hopper students, and that students could count on her for “thoughtful and generous leadership.”

“Though I’ve only been at Hopper for the last two years of her ten, I understand she’s overseen by far the most contested and complicated period in the college’s history, and I think throughout she’s been a model of calm and mutual respect for us students,” Moore said.

Adams said that she loves that Hopper students are “connecting the college’s fabulous historical memory with future élan,” and that she encourages people to visit the “Revisiting the Renaming” exhibit across from the Hopper Buttery.

With Adam’s departure, the University will conduct a search process for a new Head of College. Last year, the University amended the process from an administrator choosing the next faculty member for the role to an open nominating process where students and faculty can contribute to the search. 

“Both Hans and I will really miss the organic interactions with the bright, curious, caring and energetic students that we get to see by virtue of simply being in college,” Adams wrote to the News. “The students have restored our optimism about the future!”

Grace Hopper College is located at 189 Elm St.

Tristan Hernandez covers student policy and affairs for the News. He is also a copy editor and previously reported on student life. Originally from Austin, Texas, he is a sophomore in Pierson College majoring in political science.