Yale names president, clearing presidential search field
Yale named as its next president Peter Salovey, who has served as provost for four years. The internal appointment surprised few as he was considered on an inside track for the position. Salovey’s selection comes less than three months after Yale President Richard Levin announced his retirement, a position he has held for 20 years.
Bruce Alton, a search consultant with AGB Search, the firm that helped choose Levin 20 years ago, said it was unlikely Yale’s decision would ultimately affect Princeton’s.
“Searches are very specific, and what works for Yale won’t work for Princeton or work for Dartmouth,” he said. “If the committee is doing its job well, as I’m sure it is, they will focus on someone who is uniquely suited to Princeton.”
Alton added that he expects Princeton to choose someone with Princeton ties, like a Princeton administrator or an alumnus.
Yale settled on Salovey in a relatively short period of time. While Levin announced his retirement plans only three weeks before Princeton University President Shirley Tilghman announced hers, Yale’s search process took about half as long as Princeton’s is expected to take. Princeton’s search committee, unveiled last month, is expected to make a recommendation to the University Board of Trustees in late March or early April.
Former Corporation senior fellow Roland Betts told the Yale Daily News the day following Levin’s announcement that the search committee expected to choose Levin’s replacement in four to six months. The committee, however, made the decision in slightly more than two.
Yale’s search committee was composed of eight members of their Corporation, the equivalent of a board of trustees, and four faculty members. Unlike at Princeton, Yale’s committee lacked undergraduate and graduate students and a staff member. Yale’s committee considered more than 150 candidates for the position, according to Senior Fellow of the Corporation Edward Bass.
Prior to being named provost, Salovey had served as Yale College dean and dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, as well as a professor and department chair in the psychology department.
Salovey’s Yale roots run deep. He earned his doctorate there and joined the Yale faculty in 1986.
He is particularly noted for his research in social psychology and his pioneering work in the field of emotional intelligence, which has been a hot topic in academic circles in recent years.
“He’s a towering figure in psychology and an incredibly popular teacher,” said Nicholas Turk-Browne, a Princeton psychology professor who earned his Ph.D. from Yale in 2009. Though he said he wasn’t close to Salovey personally during the time he was there, Turk-Browne described Salovey as an affable and intelligent person who was beloved by his students.
That sentiment is supported by two prestigious teaching awards he was awarded while on the Yale faculty and the fact that the courses he taught were some of the largest ever offered at Yale, according to Turk-Browne.
He will nonetheless have big shoes to fill given Levin’s legacy: Over the past two decades, Levin presided over a massive increase in the University’s endowment. In an interview with The New York Times, Salovey acknowledged that Yale still has numerous challenges going forward and that he feels it’s important to “reach out to our community to develop a shared vision of what our priorities should be.”
“He not only knows the inner workings of Yale very well, but he’s a charismatic guy and a passionate leader,” Turk-Browne said of Salovey. “I think he’ll be an incredible president.”
Like Princeton’s, Yale’s presidential transition is set to occur next June.
Dartmouth, the other Ivy League school currently searching for a president, formed a search committee in May after President Jim Yong Kim was appointed as president of the World Bank. Dartmouth’s provost Carol Folt is leading the school this academic year while Dartmouth searches for a permanent president.