Academic Investments: The Sciences

Date: 
Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

The university priorities and academic strategies that we have been developing for the years ahead call for significant, campus-wide investment in the sciences, arts, humanities, and social scientific disciplines, and in faculty excellence across all of our schools and departments. Today we write to apprise you of a number of recent and upcoming steps in our university-wide science strategy. In future messages we will issue similar updates on our investments in the other key areas of focus.

Excellence, growth, and innovation in the sciences, including medicine, technology, engineering, and mathematics, are crucial to Yale’s continued preeminence among the world’s great research universities. The STEM disciplines are fundamental to our mission of improving the world and educating leaders for an increasingly global society. They yield understanding of the world around us and provide the tools with which to shape our future.

We look forward to welcoming the new dean of the School of Public Health, Sten Vermund, on February 1. In addition, over the course of the spring semester, we will move forward to fill a number of other science-related leadership positions across the university. This includes identifying an individual to succeed Steve Girvin, whose tenure as deputy provost for research concludes in June; the appointment of a new Faculty of Arts and Sciences dean of science after Scott Miller’s term as FAS science divisional director ends, also in June; and the search for the next dean of the School of Engineering & Applied Science, who will follow Kyle Vanderlick after she completes her service in December.

The successor to Steve Girvin will be selected with guidance from an advisory committee reporting to the provost. This vital role within the academic administration is charged with supporting and enhancing research across all of Yale’s schools through attention to and development of facilities, infrastructure, and faculty; work with the faculty and deans to develop priorities and strategic goals for research and the STEM disciplines; and oversight of services and resources that underpin and sustain Yale’s research enterprise, including pre- and post-award of grants, work with human subjects, and use of animals in research. The members of the appointment advisory committee will be announced soon. In the meantime, suggestions or self-nominations for the role of deputy provost for research may be submitted by writing to provost@yale.edu.

Tamar Gendler, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, will soon appoint the inaugural FAS dean of science, who will oversee the nine departments—three in biology and six in the physical sciences—that comprise the FAS sciences outside of engineering. A faculty committee (to be announced to the FAS later today) will advise her on this appointment. Tamar is also leading the search for the next dean of the School of Engineering & Applied Science, who will continue Kyle Vanderlick’s outstanding efforts to elevate engineering at Yale and foster synergies within and beyond the five FAS departments in engineering and computer science. A faculty advisory committee will consider and provide input on potential candidates, both internal and external to Yale, with the goal of having the new dean start in either January or July of 2018.

Our university community mourns the loss of Carolyn Slayman, longtime deputy dean for academic and scientific affairs at Yale School of Medicine, who touched countless lives during her fifty-year career. In the coming months, School of Medicine Dean Robert Alpern will consider possible configurations—appointing one or possibly two new deputy deans—to carry forward the many crucial areas to which Carolyn lent her thoughtful and strategic leadership.

To identify the most promising opportunities for investment across the STEM disciplines, we will benefit immeasurably from the input of faculty university-wide. A committee appointed by the provost has been convened and charged with recommending priorities and mechanisms for better coordinating science at Yale. The group will consult widely with colleagues across the university to inform its recommendations. Its members are: Scott Strobel (committee chair; vice president for West Campus planning and program development; deputy provost for teaching and learning; Henry Ford II Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry; professor of chemistry), Daniel Colón-Ramos (associate professor of cell biology and neuroscience), Alison Galvani (Burnett and Stender Families Professor of Epidemiology (Microbial Diseases); professor of ecology and evolutionary biology), Steve Girvin (deputy provost for research; Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics), Art Horwich (Sterling Professor of Genetics; professor of pediatrics), Jay Humphrey (John C. Malone Professor of Biomedical Engineering), Akiko Iwasaki (Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Immunobiology and Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology), Mark Lemmon (David A. Sackler Professor of Pharmacology; co-director of the Yale Cancer Biology Institute), Scott Miller (Irénée du Pont Professor of Chemistry; FAS divisional director for the sciences), Anna Pyle (William Edward Gilbert Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology; professor of chemistry), Dave Skelly (Oastler Professor of Forestry and Environmental Studies; professor of ecology and evolutionary biology), and Dan Spielman (Henry Ford II Professor of Computer Science; professor of mathematics).

Finally, the Office of Development plans to hire a director of development for the sciences, who will be charged with coordinating science fundraising campus-wide. This position will play a pivotal role in implementing our strategic priorities for science and engineering. The appointment of the director of development for the sciences will be an important step toward advancing our fundraising efforts to support our commitment to STEM investments. 

We look forward to sharing further updates as these initiatives move forward.

Sincerely,

Peter Salovey
President and Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology
 
Ben Polak
Provost and William C. Brainard Professor of Economics