Deans Mary Miller and Thomas Pollard to step down

Yale College Dean Mary Miller and Yale Graduate School Dean Thomas Pollard will step down at the end of June, when their current terms are completed, Yale President Peter Salovey has announced.

Miller, Sterling Professor of History of Art, became dean of Yale College on Dec. 1, 2008, and previously served as master of Saybrook College for nearly a decade.

Pollard, Sterling Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB), was appointed dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences in May 2010 and formerly chaired the MCDB department.

“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,” Salovey wrote in a letter to members of the Yale College and Graduate School communities.

Salovey said that one of the “most important and lasting legacies” of both deans is their 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,” he wrote. “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.”

A “devoted” dean of undergraduates: Salovey noted in his letter some of the highlights of Miller’s “extraordinary” devotion to Yale, saying, “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.

Salovey also noted that Yale College curricular offerings expanded and were enhanced by a faculty review of the curriculum that was launched in 2005 under Miller’s leadership. These offerings include Global Health Fellows and Education Studies. Miller also was instrumental in the return to Yale College of Air Force and Navy ROTC, both in their second year of full-scale operation, Salovey noted.

“Mary 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 the responsibility for addressing the prevention of sexual misconduct,” wrote Salovey.

While dean, Miller — a specialist of the art of the ancient New World — continued her scholarship. Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1994, she is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship for her work on ancient Mexico and the Maya, and in 2010 gave the A.W. Mellon Lectures at the National Gallery of Art. Her most recent work includes “Painting a Map of Mexico City” (co-edited with Barbara Mundy in 2012), a study of the rare indigenous map in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and “The Spectacle of the Late Maya Court: Reflections on the Murals of Bonampak” (with Claudia Brittenham, 2013).

A graduate of Princeton University, Miller earned her M.A. and Ph.D. at Yale in 1978 and 1981, respectively. She joined the faculty in 1981 and has also served as chair of the Department of History of Art, chair of the Council on Latin American Studies, director of Graduate Studies in Archeological Studies, and a member of the Steering Committee of the Women Faculty Forum at Yale.

Miller will return to full-time teaching in Yale College and will deliver the Slade Lectures at Cambridge University next winter.

Committed to improving services for graduate students:  Salovey called Pollard a “strong advocate for graduate students,” noting that he has helped to bolster best mentoring strategies at the Graduate School and to improve career services there, including gaining the assistance of the Graduate School Alumni Association with an annual career event for students.

“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,” Salovey added.

Pollard came to Yale in 2001 as the Eugene Higgins Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology after teaching at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and then as president of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego. He chaired MCDB from 2004 to 2010. He is a graduate of Pomona College and earned his M.D. degree at Harvard Medical School. During his 19 years at Johns Hopkins he was also the founding director of the Graduate Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine and won numerous teaching awards. He has been recognized widely for his research on the molecular basis of cellular motility and cytokinesis, receiving awards such as the 2004 E.B. Wilson Medal from the American Society of Cell Biology and the 2006 Gairdner International Award, where he was cited with Alan Hall of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, for “discovering the molecular basis of cellular motility and the mechanism of its regulation.”

Pollard plans to continue his research and to revise his cell biology textbook. He continued to teach his undergraduate course and lead his laboratory during his time as dean.

Salovey said he will soon appoint an advisory committee to fill both leadership positions.