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Deans will step down in June

Yale College dean Mary Miller ’81PhD and Graduate School dean Thomas Pollard will both step down from their positions in June, President Peter Salovey ’86PhD announced in an e-mail to students this afternoon. That means that the two deans who share responsibility for leadership of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Yale's largest academic division, will be replaced at the same time.

Miller, who was appointed dean in 2008 to succeed Salovey when he become provost, will depart at the end of her five-year term. Pollard, on the other hand, will leave his post early, following a tenure often rife with conflict due to his efforts to evaluate the success of Yale's graduate programs.

In his message, Salovey praised both administrators for “their outstanding leadership of the faculty promotion process.”

“Few appreciate the countless hours required for the meticulous review of each candidate,” Salovey wrote. “The university will reap the benefit of their scholarly judgments for decades to come.”
Soon after becoming Yale College’s first female dean, Miller, Sterling Professor of the History of Art, led a faculty review of changes made to the curriculum in 2005. A report she released in 2011 found that continued improvements to science offerings and undergraduate teaching and mentoring were necessary. Miller was also involved in bringing Air Force and Naval ROTC programs back to campus in 2012.

Moreover, after 16 students and alumni filed a Title IX complaint against Yale with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in March 2011, Miller was often the administrator overseeing efforts to improve the campus climate, such as establishing an undergraduate program of consent and communication educators.

Before she was appointed dean, Miller served as chair of the history of art department and as master of Saybrook College for nine years. Miller will return to full-time teaching in the fall and deliver a lecture series at the University of Cambridge next winter.

Pollard, who was previously chair of the molecular, cellular, and developmental biology department, worked as dean to implement best mentoring strategies across the Graduate School. A 2011 report, intended in part to consider ways to move students toward their Ph.D.s in a more timely fashion, was met with resistance from some professors, who felt Pollard's recommendations applied better to science programs than those in the humanities.

Next year, Pollard will conduct research and revise his textbook on cell biology, Salovey reported in his e-mail.

Salovey said he will soon name an advisory committee tasked with recommending successors for the two deans. Miller and Pollard's departures come in the midst of a significant administrative transition at Yale: Salovey and provost Benjamin Polak both began their tenures within the past year.

Salovey's complete e-mail follows:

To students in Yale College and the Graduate School:

I write to let you know that over recent weeks Dean Mary Miller, Sterling Professor of History of Art, and Dean Tom Pollard, Sterling Professor of Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology, have conveyed to me their plans to step down at the end of June when their current terms are completed. I am grateful for their indefatigable service and deeply appreciative of the contributions they have made to academic and student life in Yale College and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. I will soon appoint a single advisory committee to provide recommendations to me about individuals who might be tapped to fill these important leadership positions.

One of their most important and lasting legacies is their outstanding leadership of the faculty promotion process. They have supervised the review and approval process for scores of faculty promotions through FASTAP and have overseen dozens of faculty searches. Few appreciate the countless hours required for the meticulous and judicious review of each candidate. The university will reap the benefit of their scholarly judgments for decades to come.

Dean Miller’s devotion to Yale has been extraordinary. She has served as dean with dedication and wisdom during a time of enormous change and has been tireless in addressing the academic, residential, and social aspects of Yale College. Her decade of service as master of Saybrook College gave her keen insights into the needs of students and how to support them in the residential colleges. Early in her deanship, she led a faculty review of the curriculum launched in 2005 and brought amplification to curricular offerings through programs such as the Global Health Fellows and Education Studies. She was instrumental in the return to Yale College of Air Force and Navy ROTC, both now in their second year of full-scale operation. Dean Miller has provided invaluable leadership for our efforts to improve the campus climate; that leadership includes establishing the position of communications and consent educators, and creating a position for an assistant dean with responsibility for addressing the prevention of sexual misconduct. Even in the midst of the demands of the deanship, Dean Miller has continued her impressive scholarship. She has won national recognition including a Guggenheim Fellowship, and she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1994. In 2010 she gave the A. W. Mellon Lectures at the National Gallery of Art. Next winter, she will deliver the Slade Lectures at Cambridge University, having returned in the fall to full-time teaching in Yale College. Throughout her career, Dean Miller has brought her scholarship to life in the classroom, in her writing and lecturing, and in her addresses to Yale College freshmen.

Dean Pollard came to Yale in 2001, following distinguished tenure first at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and then as president of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego. At Yale he has served as chair of MCDB and co-director of Yale’s largest graduate program. He is a recipient of the 2004 E. B. Wilson Medal from the American Society of Cell Biology, the 2006 Gairdner International Award, and numerous awards for excellence in teaching. Dean Pollard has been a strong advocate for graduate students, working to disseminate Yale’s best mentoring strategies across the Graduate School and to improve career services, especially for students pursuing non-academic careers. He has secured the assistance of the Graduate School Alumni Association with an annual career event. He has worked closely with student leaders of the Graduate Student Assembly to acquire better benefits, provide on-campus dedicated workspaces for students in the humanities, and improve student services. He has demonstrated deep commitment to scholarship and research by continuing to teach his undergraduate course and lead his lab while serving as dean. Next year Dean Pollard plans to work on some experiments himself and revise his cell biology textbook.

We are indebted to Dean Miller and Dean Pollard for their service, and we will have opportunities later in the term to offer our collective thanks to them. For now, I know you join me in expressing appreciation for all they have done for Yale College, for the Graduate School – and indeed, for Yale.


Peter Salovey
Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology

Filed under Mary Miller, Thomas Pollard, Graduate School, Yale College
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