Graduate School Dean Susan Hockfield to be Next Provost of Yale

President Richard C. Levin has named Susan Hockfield as the next Provost of Yale University. Hockfield, who was reappointed earlier this fall to a second term as dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, will succeed Alison Richard, who has been nominated as the Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University.

As Provost, Hockfield will be the University’s chief academic and administrative officer, next to the President. She will coordinate and oversee the educational policies and academic plans of all sectors of the institution, including Yale College, the Graduate School, the 10 professional schools and the various centers for research and scholarship. She will also bear principal responsibility for developing the University’s operating and capital budgets and for working with the other officers of the University on Yale’s long-range plans.

President Levin said, “I am delighted that Dean Hockfield has accepted my invitation to become Provost. She has been a remarkably effective leader of the Graduate School and has fostered an unprecedented sense of community within it. Susan has built an impressive array of programs to serve the needs of students and helped to strengthen graduate programs throughout the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the School of Medicine. I am pleased that the whole University will now enjoy the benefits of her tireless effort, wisdom and insight.”

Dean Hockfield stated, “It is an honor to serve this great University as Provost. It would be an extraordinary privilege during any era, but it is particularly exciting during our current period of dramatic renewal and rejuvenation. During my years as Dean, I have profited immeasurably from the wisdom and generosity of my colleagues across the University, and so I have all confidence that working together, we will bring Yale to even greater heights in the years ahead.”

Hockfield was appointed Dean of the Graduate School by Levin in 1998, becoming the first member of the Medical School faculty to assume that post. She oversees academic and administrative policies for the school and its more than 2,300 students and 760 faculty members. The Graduate School includes 65 departments and programs granting master’s and doctoral degrees. As a member of the Executive Committee of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Dean has worked closely with the Provost, Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead and the departments during a very successful period for the recruitment of senior scholars. On that committee, she has worked most closely on faculty appointments and promotions in the natural and social sciences.

As Dean, Hockfield has been responsible for an array of initiatives that have improved the quality of life for graduate students, and expanded substantially student services. During her tenure, she has strengthened and broadened the programs in the McDougal Graduate Student Center, including those for teacher preparation, career services and student life. She has worked closely with the Graduate Student Assembly and other student groups, along with the academic departments, to encourage and support interactions between graduate students and faculty. A new monthly Graduate School Newsletter and regular letters have facilitated communication with the Graduate School community, both at Yale and among the School’s alumni. Hockfield also established a matriculation ceremony that welcomes new students to the Graduate School, as well as a commencement convocation to celebrate the achievements of each year’s graduates.

She has been the architect of, and advocate for, new policies that have dramatically improved stipends and other support for graduate students. In her first year, she extended full stipend and tuition support to all eligible Ph.D. candidates. During her tenure, the standard nine-month stipend for students in the humanities and social sciences has risen from $10,500 to $15,000, with similar, significant increases in dissertation fellowships and in stipends for students in the sciences. She also established a guaranteed summer study fellowship of $3,000 for humanities and social science students in their first and second summers.

As one of the initiatives in her first year, graduate students enrolled in Ph.D. programs were provided with free health care through the Yale Health Plan, and the Graduate School also assumed half of the cost for Health Plan coverage for doctoral students’ dependents.

Hockfield established an Office for Diversity and Equal Opportunity to lead a coordinated effort to recruit and retain members of under-represented minority groups. To help graduate students share their research outside the classroom, she created the Dean’s Colloquium and Seminar Fund and a fund for student-organized symposia.

Together with the Graduate Student Assembly and the Graduate Teaching Center, Hockfield initiated the Graduate Mentor Award to recognize faculty who provide outstanding professional guidance and counseling to graduate students. She has also expanded training for graduate students mastering English as a second language.

One faculty member wrote this fall when Dean Hockfield was reviewed for reappointment for a second term as Dean, “She has brought about so many fundamental changes and had such a positive impact on all aspects of graduate study here that it seems impossible that it all could have happened in a mere four years.”

A member of the Yale faculty since 1985, Hockfield is the William Edward Gilbert Professor of Neurobiology, a neuroanatomist whose research focuses on the development of the mammalian brain. She and her laboratory staff have identified a family of cell surface proteins whose expression is regulated by neuronal activity early in an animal’s life; one of these proteins is believed to play a role in the progression of brain tumors. A particular interest for Hockfield is to gain an understanding of a deadly kind of brain tumors called gliomas. She has written more than 90 scientific publications and is the primary author of the book “Molecular Probes of the Nervous System: Selected Methods for Antibodies and Nucleic Acid Probes.”

Hockfield earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Rochester and a Ph.D. in anatomy from the Georgetown University School of Medicine, while carrying out her dissertation research in neuroscience at the National Institutes of Health. She was an NIH postdoctoral fellow at the University of California at San Francisco in 1979-1980, and then joined the scientific staff at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York in 1980. She served as director of the lab’s Summer Neurobiology Program from 1985 to 1997, concurrent with her teaching post at Yale. She is currently a trustee of the Laboratory.

Throughout her tenure at Yale, Hockfield has been dedicated to improving graduate education in the biological and biomedical sciences. She served as director of graduate studies for the Section of Neurobiology from 1986 to 1994, and was a member of the Graduate School’s Executive Committee and of a committee to improve linkages among the biomedical sciences. She also played a role in the development of the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, a collaboration among biological science departments designed to foster interdepartmental interactions.

Hockfield became a tenured associate professor at Yale in 1991 and was named full professor in 1994. She was appointed the William Edward Gilbert Professor of Neurobiology in 2001.

The Dean’s honors include the Esther A. and Joseph Klingenstein Fellowship in the Neurosciences and the Charles Judson Herrick Award from the American Association of Anatomists for outstanding contributions by a young scientist. She was selected as a Grass Traveling Scientist by the Society for Neuroscience in 1987. She currently serves on the National Advisory Neurological Disorders and Stroke Council (NIH), as well as a number of other advisory boards. Her memberships in professional societies include the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Society for Neuroscience.

She is married to Dr. Thomas Byrne, and they and their daughter will be moving to the Provost’s Residence during the course of the next year.

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Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325