Richard Brodhead to Continue as Dean of Yale College For Second Five-year Term

Richard H. Brodhead, dean of Yale College since 1992, has agreed to continue for a second five-year term in his post, according to an announcement by Yale President Richard C. Levin

President Levin said, “In response to my request for assessment of the Dean’s performance during his first term, I received scores of letters recommending his reappointment. Colleagues pointed with approval to Dean Brodhead’s wisdom, eloquence, courtesy and sensitivity, as well as his commitment to excellence in everything associated with Yale College. As one who has the privilege of daily interaction with Dean Brodhead, I was especially gratified to find my own admiration for his work echoed in so many enthusiastic letters of support.”

In the administrative structure of the University, the dean of Yale College is a key leadership position. The dean has a prominent role not only in faculty matters, but in all academic, administrative and extracurricular matters of what has been termed the “oldest, largest, and most venerated part of the University” – Yale College and its more than 5,200 undergraduate students.

As dean, Mr. Brodhead has shared with the provost and the dean of the Graduate School broad responsibilities for the support of departments and chairs in the recruitment of new faculty. In the last two years alone, this has resulted in the appointment of 21 senior faculty from across the nation and around the world. Along with the dean of the Graduate School, Dean Brodhead has also overseen a faculty appointments process which has been dedicated to ensuring the appointment of excellent scholars and teachers at both the junior and senior level.

Mary Miller, professor of the history of art, in commenting on Dean Brodhead’s reappointment said: “As a department chair, I can say that Dean Brodhead is the humanistic compass of the University. In his work, he has been a moral as well as intellectual leader in Yale College in mundane as well as in larger matters.”

In his leadership role in the Office of the Dean, Dean Brodhead has worked closely with the masters of the residential colleges, with the dean of admissions and financial aid, the director of athletics, and the director of career services. In the Office of the Dean of Yale College in Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall, 11 associate and assistant deans with a wide variety of responsibilities report to Dean Brodhead, and 12 residential college deans from around the campus work with him in supporting and enriching student life.

“Dean Brodhead is exceptionally attuned to the interests and needs of undergraduates,” said Betty Trachtenberg, associate dean of Yale College and dean of student affairs. “His continuing interest in students, and his personal responsiveness to them, as well as his unbounded enthusiasm for Yale College, and his dedication to its principles and values, make him an ideal dean. I might also mention that his energy and capacity for work amaze us all.”

A 1968 graduate of Yale College who holds three degrees from the University, and the first Yale graduate in more than two decades to be named to its deanship, Mr. Brodhead has become well known as an eloquent advocate of the benefits of residential college life. In a 1995 letter to the Yale Daily News, he wrote: “In the colleges, Yalies have available something that later life, whatever its freedoms and advantages, will make it hard to obtain: a chance to live as a member of a community, to have easy, daily contact with representatives of every part of our world; the chance to learn how to live together, to enjoy together, and to work together to realize the best possibilities of associated life.”

In his roles as faculty member and dean, Mr. Brodhead has traveled extensively, representing Yale to its alumni, and addressing national organizations on educational priorities. Professor Robin Winks, the Randolph W. Townsend Jr. Professor and chair of history commented that, in this respect, Dean Brodhead was “a dean in the grand Yale tradition, who is a national spokesperson for a liberal education and a sense of a community of learning. He is a powerful voice in defense of these values in a time of downsizing, outsourcing, and national confusion about the real and inspiriting purpose of a University and its colleges.”

Dean Brodhead was honored for his skills as a classroom teacher in 1979 when he was awarded one of the University’s highest accolades, the William Clyde DeVane Medal for Scholarship and Teaching by the Yale chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, and he has continued to teach during his deanship. In the 1996-97 school year, he taught a section of Directed Studies; in the coming spring he will teach a senior seminar, “The American Prophetic Tradition,” for the department of English.

A summa cum laude graduate of Yale College with exceptional distinction in English, Mr. Brodhead joined the University faculty as an assistant professor of English in 1972; became a full professor in 1985; and was appointed to the Bird White Housum Professorship in English in 1990. Active in numerous University committees, he was serving a second term as chair of the English department when he was named to the Yale College deanship by President Howard R. Lamar. The Dean was named the A. Bartlett Giamatti Professor of English in 1995.

A specialist in 19th-century American literature, Dean Brodhead is the author and editor of books and essays on Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry James and William Faulkner. He has also lectured widely on the role of literature in 19th century culture. His honors include Morse and Guggenheim fellowships and two visiting professorships to the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris. He is a former member of the summer faculty of the Bread Loaf School of English; serves on the board of the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in London; and is a member of the Modern Language Association and the American Studies Association, among other professional affiliations.

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