Heads of Berkeley, Silliman colleges are reappointed

David Evans and Laurie Santos have been reappointed to new five-year terms as the heads of Berkeley and Silliman colleges, respectively.
Laurie Santos and David Evans.

Laurie Santos and David Evans.

David Evans and Laurie Santos have been reappointed to new five-year terms as the heads of Berkeley and Silliman colleges, respectively, President Peter Salovey and Yale College Dean Marvin Chun have announced.

They will serve as residential college heads through June 30, 2026.

David Evans — Berkeley College

In their announcement of the reappointment, Salovey and Chun said that Evans has created “an enriching residential college community and is valued by students, staff, and fellows for his authenticity, thoughtful leadership style, and commitment to creating deeper connections among all Berkeleyites.”

A review committee chaired by Shyam Sunder, the James L. Frank Professor of Accounting, Economics, and Finance, said students praised Evans’ focus on “being there for them — whether by providing academic advice and mentorship or by offering support during challenging times.” Fellows of Berkeley College hailed his “devotion to building community and his innovative and inspiring approach to leadership,” and members of the college staff commented on his “considerate and effective management style.” The Berkeley community also noted its gratitude for the contributions of Associate Head of College Lely Evans. “Pawfice” hours with the family dog Brie are an added bonus, students said.

Evans, a professor of earth and planetary sciences in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), has traveled the world for his research on plate tectonics, the ongoing motions of the continents across Earth’s surface. He is the director of the Yale Paleomagnetism Laboratory, which traces this movement by measuring fossil magnetism preserved in ancient rocks from around the world. Students in his geology and planetary science courses have traveled with Evans to the New England Appalachians as well as more far-flung places as part of their studies. Evans’ work has elucidated the vanished supercontinents named Pangea, Rodinia, and Nuna, and characterized the geometry of Earth’s ancient magnetic field, among other contributions.

Other members of the review committee are fellows Michael Fotos, Rebekah Westphal, Vicki Assevero, and students Brian Lin ’21, Veronica Sosa ’21, Adoma Addo ’22, Melia Young ’23, Lari (Samantha) Ho ’23, and Joey Fern ’24.

Laurie Santos — Silliman College 

Salovey and Chun said Santos’ “attentiveness to the needs of Sillimanders has created an environment that enriches the educational experience of students and benefits the well-being of fellows and staff.”

A review committee chaired by Joe Fischel, associate professor of women’s, gender and sexuality studies, recommended the reappointment, noting that students praised Santos’ “commitment to their happiness and health.”

Santos founded the Good Life Center and introduced The Silliman College Acorn (a coffee shop), Silliman College Igloo (a see-through dome for student gatherings in winter), and the Silliman Garden, among other innovations.

Students also lauded Professor Santos for providing safe and creative methods for them to connect during the pandemic, and they expressed gratitude to Associate Head of College Mark Maxwell for being sincerely interested in their lives, studies, and extracurricular pursuits,” while college fellows praised Santos for her “collegiality, dedication to the Silliman community, ingenuity in handling challenges, and supportive leadership style,” Salovey and Chun said.

Santos, the Chandrika and Ranjan Tandon Professor of Psychology in FAS, is a cognitive psychologist who studies human and nonhuman cognition. She is director of the Canine Cognition Center and the Comparative Cognition Laboratory. Her popular podcast “The Happiness Lab” has more than 35 million downloads, and her course “Psychology and the Good Life” is the most popular Yale College course ever.

The other members of the review committee are fellows Amanda Klay, Teresa Chahine, and Stefan Nicolescu, and Yale College students Jyot Batra ’21, John Dallard ’22, Suzanne Brown ’23, Emely Lopez ’23, and Shandra Ahsan ’24.

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