Heads of college are appointed to their positions by the Yale Corporation upon recommendation of the president. The president seeks advice from the dean of Yale College, faculty and other fellows of the college, and students.
The president appoints a search advisory committee that works with the dean to recommend a slate of candidates. This committee generally includes eight or nine members of the residential college community: a member of the ladder faculty to serve as committee chair, three to four additional faculty or other fellows of the college, and three to four student representatives. Committee members are selected in consultation with the outgoing head of college, the dean of Yale College, and others who can offer information about individuals’ involvement with the college and ability to identify the attributes of potential candidates that best fit the college culture. Search advisory committees are selected with careful attention to diversity, and the students who are chosen to serve represent an array of disciplines, backgrounds, and extracurricular pursuits.
Once appointed, the membership of the search advisory committee is announced in an email from the president and dean to the residential college community (all students, fellows, and staff). The committee is charged with providing a list of recommended individuals to the president and dean, and is asked to identify candidates who are faculty members with experience teaching or otherwise working with undergraduates; who have a demonstrated commitment to student life; and, ideally, who have experience with the residential college in question.
Committees conduct outreach to solicit views about other desirable characteristics of the next head of college that may be specific to the particular residential college, as well as nominations of possible candidates; the residential college community is invited to provide comments and recommendations directly to any member. Student members may schedule town hall meetings in the college, and the committee seeks input from students, staff, alumni, faculty, and fellows. In addition, the dean of Yale College provides a list of candidates for consideration including names that have surfaced in past searches, those proposed directly to the dean, and individuals who have self-nominated.
The search advisory committee does not conduct interviews or meetings with candidates. Instead, based on knowledge of candidates from within the committee and suggestions from members of the residential college community, the committee presents the names of recommended candidates (usually at least three) to the president and dean, together with information supporting those recommendations. After considering the committee’s recommendations and consulting with the dean, the president selects a candidate and calls to assess his or her willingness to serve. When a candidate has accepted, the president and the dean announce the new head of college to the community, pending final approval by the Yale Corporation.