Yale News

The Class of 2024 spent their four years of college under the leadership of two deans, Marvin Chun and Pericles Lewis, who both implemented major policy changes during their time at the helm.

Chun was named Yale College dean in 2017 and stepped down in June 2022 after his five-year term. In May 2022, University President Peter Salovey announced that Lewis would succeed Chun. 

Among his accomplishments as dean, Chun worked to expand financial aid and mental health resources available to students and oversaw the implementation of a temporary universal pass/fail grading policy in the spring of 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Chun also made history as the University’s first Asian American dean of Yale College. 

After stepping down, Chun returned to his professorship in psychology and neuroscience and also spent time teaching at Yale-NUS during spring 2023. Reflecting on his accomplishments as dean, he specifically noted to the News his pride in leading Yale College through the pandemic.

“I feel really good about what my team — my colleagues, the faculty, the students — what we’ve all accomplished across the duration of my term,” Chun said in 2022.

Chun also oversaw major academic changes, including the expansion of the Credit/D/Fail option from four to six credits and an end to the traditional shopping period. 

The shopping period allowed students to try out different classes during the first two weeks of the semester while the current course registration requires students to register the semester before for classes and only gives less time to explore them at the beginning of the new semester.

Chun explained that the decision to do away with the shopping period was to bring more certainty about which classes students were in. However, getting rid of the shopping period and replacing it with early course registration was also met with pushback from students, with some claiming that the change made course registration more stressful. 

“My main issue with the course selection process is broadly that it forces students to make plans based on information they don’t have and without the time to fully consider options,” Tai Michaels ’23 wrote to the News in 2022.

At the end of Chun’s term, conversations about improving undergraduate advising began. The Yale College dean heads many teams that fall under the category of advising including convening the Teaching, Learning and Advising Committee, maintaining contact with heads of colleges, directors of undergraduate studies, department chairs and the Office of Undergraduate Education. 

Following Chun’s departure, Lewis began his term in July 2022 after serving as the founding president of Yale-NUS, a collaboration between Yale and the National University of Singapore, and the University’s vice president for global strategy and vice provost for academic initiatives. At the beginning of his term as dean, he named advising as one of his top priorities and emphasized that he wanted to help students navigate their academic journeys.

“The Yale student has to make a lot of choices for themselves, and I hope we can help provide them the information and background and context for them to be able to make those choices,” Lewis told the News. 

In addition to advising, Lewis’ term has seen mental health reforms, including a settlement with mental health advocacy group Elis for Rachael in August, which has long been a source of student criticism

This year, the Yale College Council passed a proposal to encourage the Dean’s Office to explicitly allow students to use mental health as a reason to get a dean’s extension from a residential college dean. Lewis adopted the proposed policy, which administrators said had already been in place, and Lewis confirmed to the News that the undergraduate regulations will reflect the change at the beginning of the 2024-2025 school year. The change also comes as students ranked mental health as the top concern when looking for the University’s next president. 

“We are putting a small revision in the regulations … we did it on the basis of a recommendation from the Yale College Council,” Lewis wrote to the News in April.

The Yale College Dean’s Office was established during Timothy Dwight’s tenure as University president from 1886 to 1899.

ADA PERLMAN
Ada Perlman covers religious life at Yale. She is a first year in Pierson College.