Yale to make landmark investments in engineering and applied science, FAS
Yale University today announced bold new investments in the School of Engineering & Applied Science (SEAS) and in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) that will accelerate the university’s educational and research missions.
The plan calls for 45 new faculty positions and the modernization of supporting campus facilities, together amounting to a landmark investment in the expansion of the university’s educational and research enterprises, President Peter Salovey and Provost Scott Strobel wrote in their announcement.
The new positions in both SEAS and FAS will expand Yale’s expertise in traditional and emerging fields, helping build connections among them as well as strengthening areas of strategic importance for the university, they said.
“Recruiting and retaining a diverse community of world-class faculty is one of the university’s top priorities,” the leaders wrote. “Because the quality of our faculty is so critical, we are devoting substantial resources to support its excellence across many different disciplines.”
As part of this expansion, they said, Yale “will also align relevant organizational structures effective July 1, 2022, to create greater efficiencies in pursuing faculty excellence and diversity and the university’s mission.”
A substantial investment in SEAS will allow the school to even more aggressively pursue opportunities for breakthrough research and collaborative innovation, Salovey and Strobel said. It will also provide the school with the operational flexibility to enact the recent faculty-led SEAS Strategic Vision Report, which says that SEAS research will focus on initiatives in artificial intelligence, biological systems, materials science, mathematical modeling, and what it calls “robotics for humanity.”
“The report’s goals are purposefully aligned with our University Science Strategy, which emphasizes campus-wide investment in several thematic areas,” Salovey and Strobel said. “An even stronger SEAS will enhance Yale’s ability to pursue research and innovation in other priority areas across campus.”
The School of Engineering & Applied Science
SEAS will be able to add 30 ladder faculty slots across the school’s six departments; it currently has 92 ladder faculty. These additions will also allow SEAS to increase the size of the Department of Computer Science — the school department with the most undergraduate majors — and advance materials science, whose interconnections across many fields “will make for outsized impact,” the president and provost said.
“They will also help us bolster other areas where faculty are working at the vanguard of engineering and applied science,” they said. “Additionally, exploring joint appointments around Yale will create opportunities for novel academic programming that accentuate our current strengths and increase our innovative capacity.”
In addition to growing the SEAS faculty, Yale will make a significant investment in the school’s physical infrastructure, some of which dates to the turn of the last century. The university plans to break ground for the Physical Science & Engineering Building (PSEB) on Science Hill next summer. The building, which will serve both FAS and SEAS, is scheduled to be completed in 2027. Once finished, the purpose-built facility is likely to be the largest building investment in Yale’s history.
To complement this space, and further accommodate the growth of engineering and applied science at Yale, the university is also developing a comprehensive renovation plan that will be implemented over the next decade, a process that will reimagine the research and teaching spaces on lower Hillhouse Avenue.
To maximize SEAS’s impact, Salovey and Strobel said, they reconsidered its organizational structure.
“SEAS was announced as a school in 2008 and operated in that way for almost a decade, even while the SEAS faculty has been considered a division of the FAS,” they said. “Beginning July 1, 2022, Yale will have a distinct faculty of Engineering & Applied Science led by the dean of SEAS.”
The SEAS dean and the FAS dean will continue to work closely together, they said, each reporting directly to the president and provost. SEAS will operate as a distinct budgetary unit, with its dean overseeing the allocations for SEAS faculty salaries, faculty start-up packages, and the school’s operating budget, including costs associated with staffing and facilities. There will be no changes to undergraduate or graduate student admissions and registration processes.
“This organization will allow SEAS to reimagine its culture, expand its research, and optimize its partnerships both within and outside Yale,” they said. “We expect it to be better integrated than ever with Yale’s graduate and professional schools. This change to SEAS builds upon years of thoughtful input from many members of the university community who have advocated for an increasingly autonomous path for engineering at Yale.”
Salovey and Strobel also announced that current SEAS Dean Jeffrey Brock will head the school in an expanded role.
“We are pleased that Jeffrey Brock has agreed to be reappointed as dean of SEAS,” they said. “We have every confidence that in his new, expanded role, he will lead the school through this transformation. We are fortunate to have someone with his knowledge of SEAS, of Yale, and of the broader scientific and technological environments to lead this important transition.”
Said Brock: “This is an extraordinary moment for Yale and for engineering and applied science at Yale. We live now in a world where engineering and technology touch every corner of our lives and experience, and we have an opportunity through these historic investments to ensure our discoveries and innovations have the greatest impact on the world for the better. I’m grateful for the confidence Yale’s leadership has placed in SEAS, and for their belief in the power of engineering and applied science to further Yale’s mission for humanity.”
To focus on SEAS, Brock will step down as the FAS dean of science effective June 30.
FAS Dean Tamar Gendler will begin the search for a new FAS dean of science in the coming days, Salovey and Strobel said, and will seek to identify a leader who will continue the tradition of close coordination and partnership between FAS science and SEAS.
The Faculty of Arts and Sciences
In addition to Yale’s commitments in engineering and applied science, it will also make major investments in the arts and sciences.
The university will add 15 incremental FAS faculty positions. These positions are on top of the gift-funded and initiative-supported slots that have been added to the FAS headcount in recent years.
About half the positions will be allotted to data-intensive social science, a critical set of fields whose scope and importance were articulated by Yale faculty in the report of the University-wide Committee on Data-Intensive Social Sciences, Salovey and Strobel said. The slots will also support other FAS priorities, including investments in faculty diversity and excellence, areas of historic strength and emerging interest, and work that crosses traditional disciplinary boundaries.
Administrative changes will be made so that the FAS dean will have full oversight of FAS faculty salaries, faculty start-up packages, and the FAS’s operating budget, including staffing and facilities-related expenses, Salovey and Strobel said.
“We will continue our aggressive efforts to enhance the physical spaces necessary for research and teaching in the FAS,” they said. “Within the past few years, we have opened two state-of-the-art facilities: the Humanities Quadrangle and the Yale Science Building. Other improvements will continue in rapid succession in the coming years.”
This year, Yale will open a new building at 87 Trumbull Street, home of the Tobin Center for Economic Policy, uniting faculty from the FAS Department of Economics in a single space. Next year, the university will complete the renovation of Kline Tower, which will house the FAS Departments of Statistics and Data Science, Mathematics, and Astronomy. Soon thereafter, the first phase of the Physical Sciences and Engineering Building will be completed, and it will house members of the FAS Department of Physics and of the SEAS faculty. And the university will fit out 100 College Street to host the FAS Department of Psychology and School of Medicine Department of Neuroscience.
Even with these investments, Salovey and Strobel wrote, research space on campus “will continue to be a precious resource, requiring us to use existing spaces efficiently,” particularly as the faculty grows.
“Our confidence in growing and investing in the FAS in this manner is bolstered by the creativity, consistency, and collaborative spirit with which Dean Gendler has approached this work since her appointment as dean of the FAS in 2014,” Salovey and Strobel said. “Her leadership will continue to be a lodestar during this transition, and we are grateful for the abundant talent she brings to her critical leadership role.”
Said Gendler: “This is a transformative moment for the FAS, for SEAS, and for Yale. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reimagine our faculty at a new scope and scale, allowing us to support our continuing colleagues while welcoming new thinkers who will build on our historic strengths and advance emerging fields of inquiry. At a time when the importance of arts and sciences is under national and international challenge, Yale’s bold reinvestment in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences reiterates our belief that these fields play a central role in promoting human flourishing.”
The investments in new faculty positions bring the target size of the combined FAS and SEAS faculties to more than 750 tenure track and tenured positions, Salovey and Strobel said. SEAS and the FAS will both engage in robust faculty hiring over the next half decade, they said, “so that Yale may capitalize on this unprecedented opportunity to reimagine our future and recruit the next generation of scholars, teachers, and leaders.”
“These bold commitments are made possible by the legacy of generous donors and their contribution to the university endowment over many decades,” they wrote. “They are part of a broader vision for Yale that will extend through the current For Humanity campaign and to many other areas of campus.”
“We look forward to the arrival of the next generation of scholars, educators, mentors, and colleagues who will advance the highest ambitions of our university.”