Whelan named vice president for human resources
John Whelan, a nationally recognized human resources leader with experience in higher education and industry, has been appointed vice president for human resources at Yale, President Peter Salovey and Senior Vice President for Operations Jack Callahan announced on Tuesday. His first day at Yale will be Aug. 1.
Whelan comes to Yale from Indiana University, where he spent seven years as the chief human resources officer and is currently vice president for human resources.
“John has dedicated his entire career to supporting the most important asset of any organization: its people,” Salovey and Callahan wrote in a message to the Yale community. “With experience implementing innovative HR strategies at public and private universities and in industry before that, he will ensure that Yale will continue to recruit and retain the very best to advance the university’s mission of education, research, scholarship, practice, and preservation.”
At Indiana University, Whelan implemented a comprehensive strategic plan and redesign of HR operations to improve effectiveness in staff recruitment, retention, and professional development. He also created a diversity, equity, and inclusion taskforce to review HR practices and policies before launching DEI initiatives to support an inclusive and equitable workplace. The 325 HR professionals he leads across seven campuses at Indiana serve more than 22,000 people.
“I am eager to join the talented HR team at Yale as we channel our energy to helping Yale achieve its bold mission of improving the world through outstanding research and scholarship, education, preservation, and practice,” Whelan said. “Yale’s Belonging initiative will be central to everything we do in Human Resources. I am thrilled to become an active member of the Yale community.”
The Belonging at Yale initiative supports the community’s ongoing and long-term efforts to increase diversity, ensure equity, and enhance a sense of inclusion and belonging for everyone.
Whelan earned a J.D. in labor and employment law and B.A. in American studies from the University of Notre Dame. After graduation, he decided to focus on human resources because he wanted to understand all aspects of the workplace and support the people whose talents and commitment are essential to the success of an organization. He wanted to be part of efforts to help people, business operations, and communities thrive.
Prior to joining Indiana University, Whelan took on increasingly complex leadership responsibilities in HR for the Gillette Company, Bristol Myers Squibb, the University of Notre Dame, and Baylor University.
In their announcement, Salovey and Callahan noted that during the past year Whelan has collaborated with colleagues across the Indiana University campus to confront the economic uncertainties and other challenges associated with COVID-19. He comes to Yale as it prepares to welcome back thousands of faculty and staff to on-campus work after sustaining the university’s mission remotely for more than a year.
“As a community, we will have to reestablish the way we work with one another,” Salovey and Callahan wrote. “Although we are all looking forward to the end of the pandemic, there will be a period of adjustment. With John’s leadership, we can build on what we have learned over the past year to ensure that the changes ahead will be positive and that we will support one another in the recovery phase of the pandemic.”
Whelan recently served as the chair of the board for the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources. In October, the association will formally present him with its highest honor, the Donald E. Dickason Award, in recognition of exemplary leadership in his field. He also serves on the board of the American Research Universities Human Resources Institute and has mentored scores of HR professionals at all career stages.
In his new role, Whelan is excited to address the transformative potential of Yale’s academic strategy and the possibilities of working with the university’s partners in New Haven to benefit their shared community.
“To realize our goal to tackle the most critical problems facing humanity, we need a topnotch workforce who feels that they are well supported and belong at Yale,” Salovey and Callahan wrote. “John’s experiences in building equitable workplaces that encourage innovation and excellence will be invaluable to these efforts. Of course, everything we do is deeply connected to our home city. John appreciates that our partnership with our neighbors strengthens Yale and New Haven.”
Whelan succeeds Janet Lindner, who retired from her role as vice president for human resources in December. In their message to the community, Salovey and Callahan thanked Lindner for serving Yale with distinction for more than two decades, as well as Associate Vice President for Human Resources Donna Cable for her exceptional leadership of Human Resources in the interim.