General Counsel Dorothy Robinson retiring after 29 years

Dorothy K. Robinson, Yale’s vice president and general counsel, is retiring after 29 years of “extraordinary and dedicated service” as Yale’s chief legal counsel, President Peter Salovey announced.

Dorothy K. Robinson

“It is difficult for me to think of Yale without Dorothy, as we have worked closely for more than a decade, and I have come to rely on her for the deep wisdom and guidance that she has so freely shared with deans, directors, and Yale’s presidents,” said Salovey in his announcement to the Yale community. “

Robinson will step down from her position at the end of August, and will remain as counselor to the president through the fall and winter to advise Salovey on legal issues and “assure a smooth transition for her successor,” he said.

During her years at Yale, serving under five Yale presidents, Robinson has supported innumerable university initiatives, from Yale’s partnership with the City of New Haven, to research and educational collaborations with other institutions in the United States and abroad, technology transfer, online education, and the return of ROTC to Yale College.

“At the same time,” said Salovey, “she has spearheaded the successful management of a great many complex legal situations for the university and our community in the increasingly challenging regulatory environment faced by higher education.”

Robinson’s career at Yale began in 1978 when she was the first attorney appointed to Yale’s new Office of the General Counsel by José A. Cabranes, now judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She was named acting general counsel by President A. Bartlett Giamatti in 1985, and appointed general counsel and director of federal relations in 1986 by President Benno C. Schmidt.  She became the second woman officer of Yale the following year and a vice president in 1995. Her service as an officer is the longest of any in the last 70 years.

Robinson has been responsible for overseeing Yale’s federal relations on both agency and legislative fronts, including advocacy on issues of concern to Yale such as research and student aid funding, science policy, and regulatory matters.  In 2007, she initiated Yale’s program of enterprise risk management.

She has served on the boards of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and the National Association of College and University Attorneys, and on numerous special commissions and committees of the Association of American Universities, and other “alphabet” organizations representing higher education in Washington.

“Dorothy has created and led a superb team of lawyers in the Office of the General Counsel at Yale, and has mentored many who have gone on to positions of prominence in the academy, private practice, government service, and non-profits,” noted Salovey.

In a note to colleagues about her retirement, Robinson said: “ It has been an amazing experience, as well as the honor of a lifetime, to represent this great university and work with presidents, trustees, provosts and officers and deans, masters, faculty, staff colleagues, students and so many others both inside and outside of Yale — including, of course, my superb team in the Office of the General Counsel. …  I am excited about the prospect of change, taking time, and considering the future with a wide-open mind; but of course, I will miss my life here.”

The search for Robinson’s successor will begin in the next few weeks. Those with suggestions for candidates can send a confidential note to the President here.

“The university has been the beneficiary of Dorothy’s unsurpassed leadership and her wisdom,” concluded Salovey. “We will have the chance in the fall to salute her for her contributions to this place, but for now let me convey my personal gratitude for her service.”

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