This just in

On Yale & Yale alumni.
Ico print Print | Ico email Email | Facebook | | RSS

Did Salovey have another offer? And more on Yale’s 23rd president

The timing of the announcement of Peter Salovey’s appointment—just two and a half months after the Yale Corporation and its search committee embarked on its search process—caught a lot of people by surprise (not least your alumni magazine—our November/December issue, which includes copious speculation about who will be Yale’s next president, hasn’t even arrived in people’s homes yet). Today, the Yale Daily News suggests that the process may have been speeded up because Salovey was being courted by Princeton or Dartmouth, which are also looking for new presidents.

The News says neither Salovey nor other administrators would comment about whether he had received an offer, but search committee member Amy Hungerford, an English professor and master of Morse College, told the newspaper that the search was accelerated: “I think it was clear when we realized how many peer institutions were searching for presidents at the same time that if we really wanted the best chance for the best person, we had to move very fast.”

It would come as little surprise if another university was interested in Salovey: his four predecessors as provost went on to lead the University of Pennsylvania, MIT, Oxford, and Cambridge.

The news of Salovey’s appointment was reported in venues from the Stanford Daily to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Salovey himself talked to the New York Times about what he meant yesterday about making Yale “more accessible”:

“That means figuring out ways for deserving students to wind up on this campus,” he said, “but it also means a digital strategy that makes more of Yale’s treasure—whether it’s scholarship or pedagogy or collections—available online. Moving from a collection of opportunities to a deliberate strategy for giving the riches of Yale, the wealth of Yale, away.”

That includes online education, a field which many universities are now struggling to navigate.

“I think the excitement about MOOCs”—massive online open courses—“is fine,” Dr. Salovey said, “but it’s really only one part of what online tools can provide, and it may in the end not be the most important part.”

In the Chronicle of Higher Education, search committee member Judith Chevalier ’89 countered the assumption that the choice of Salovey was a vote for the status quo:

“We have had many discussions with many people on the topic of what are the big changes in higher education and where does Yale want to position itself as higher education changes,” said Ms. Chevalier, a professor of finance and economics at the Yale School of Management. “And I definitely don’t think you can hire a person thinking what you want is more of the same.”

“You need a president who is willing to grapple with the next 10 years looking very different than the past 20,” she said.

And the Yale Daily News editorialized about the choice, encouraging Salovey—a popular figure with students as a professor and Yale College dean—to be more of a presence amid the student body than Levin has been:

While Levin has been a successful administrator, he has at times been perceived as aloof, restrained and managerial. He has chosen to recuse himself from student concerns. In some ways, Levin’s presidency may be defined by this distance—it has been easy for him to make decisions about the University’s future from the standpoint of an effective administrator, rather than as a true representative of the Yale community.

We assume that Salovey will be a greater presence on campus. But that presence carries a responsibility to listen. We hope Salovey will embrace his responsibility to include students and faculty in the future of their university. The discussions surrounding Yale-NUS, the new residential colleges and athletic admissions policies have at times seemed corporate, but they must be made communal. We hope that Salovey will usher in that change.

Filed under presidential search, Peter Salovey
The comment period has expired.