Dear Members of the Yale Community,
Earlier today, Marvin Chun, dean of Yale College, Richard M. Colgate Professor of Psychology, and professor of neuroscience and cognitive science, informed the Yale College community of his intention to return to full-time teaching and research at the end of his term on June 30, 2022. I am grateful for Dean Chun’s steadfast championing of Yale’s educational mission and his commitment to the success of our students. Although this is bittersweet news, I am excited for the many Yale students who will benefit from his award-winning teaching. I am also happy for all the cognitive neuroscientists who will begin their careers in his internationally renowned laboratory, which has advanced the use of brain imaging to study the mind and behavior.
Since assuming leadership of Yale College in July 2017, Dean Chun has focused on ensuring it remains a place where an exceptional education in the liberal arts, led by an eminent faculty devoted to teaching, is at the center of undergraduate life. Partnering seamlessly with Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Tamar Gendler, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean Lynn Cooley, their offices, and numerous faculty members, his many contributions include the launch of multidisciplinary majors in neuroscience, statistics and data science, urban studies, and economics and computer science. Addressing both faculty and student interest in encouraging formal studies outside of one’s concentration, he created new certificate programs ranging from advanced languages to computer programming. He also expanded access to existing certificate programs and opened a path for faculty members to propose new ones. To encourage better planning and bold exploration, he added early registration and extended Credit/D/F grading options.
Improving access to higher education has been a major priority for me, and I am proud that in recent years Yale College has become more socioeconomically and ethnically diverse. Toward that goal, Dean Chun has been instrumental in leading some of the most significant enhancements in financial aid and related support. In 2020, Yale expanded financial aid policies so parents or guardians earning less than $75,000 annually are not asked to make any contribution toward the cost of their child’s education. Effective this fall, the student share will be reduced by 34 percent for most students receiving financial aid. He has increased aid and benefits for Eli Whitney students, including veterans, and their numbers will further grow, along with more transfer students from community colleges.
Dean Chun also enhanced support systems for Yale College students. He launched the Financial Literacy and Yale Safety Net portal to promote agency and self-reliance and ensure fairness and transparency in allocating discretionary funds to students seeking emergency financial support. He developed the Community Initiative, which works in partnership with the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning to empower first-generation and low-income students throughout the academic year. To enable students on financial aid to pursue internship or research opportunities at non-profit organizations in the U.S. and other nations, he created the Summer Experience Award. Since 2017, he has expanded the First-Year Scholars at Yale program by 60 percent, and he has committed to doubling the number of students from underrepresented groups participating in undergraduate research through the Science, Technology and Research Scholars Program.
Having served as the head of Berkeley College for nine years, Dean Chun has often spoken with me about the centrality of the residential colleges to the distinctiveness and excellence of a Yale College education. So, in addition to overseeing the successful expansion of the student body with Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray Colleges, he has increased support for residential college life led by heads and deans. He created a sustainable fund and raised gifts for college renovations. Understanding the importance of open dialogue for community building, he piloted the Coalition of Allyship Advocates program, which aims to encourage diverse viewpoints and the free exchange of ideas among students. To help students feel a strong sense of belonging, he continues to reimagine orientation programming, such as partnering with the Schwarzman Center and Yale Hospitality to host the popular Bulldog Bash.
Dean Chun collaborated with Head of Silliman College Laurie Santos and the University Secretary’s Office to create the Good Life Center, which recently added a beautiful new home in the Schwarzman Center to be more accessible to graduate and professional school students as well as those in Yale College. And after several discussions with me concerning the surging demand for mental health services, he launched the Yale College Community Care (YC3) pilot, which is based in the residential colleges, distinct from, but coordinated with Yale Mental Health and Counseling. YC3 added eight full-time staff members from diverse backgrounds to provide assistance to our students with significantly reduced wait times.
Over the years, Dean Chun has seen firsthand the power of peer mentoring. So, he expanded support for peer liaisons, student staff, and programming in the cultural centers. He worked with Student Accessibility Services and the Poorvu Center to create peer liaison and peer mentoring programs to support students with disabilities. With Yale Athletics, he introduced the Student Athlete Mentoring Program. Beyond these peer mentoring positions, for which undergraduate students previously volunteered, he has increased the number and variety of paid positions across campus. And to recognize excellence in their work outside of the classroom, he created the YWork award for students nominated by their supervisors.
Of course, over the past two years, Dean Chun has been a compassionate and steady presence as we navigated the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic. He guided the college through a successful pivot to remote learning and transition back to full in-person coursework. During the height of the pandemic, while relaxing constraints for students to take leaves from school, he also ensured that the college could house as many students as possible on campus, especially students whose home environments did not support remote learning. His leadership has been extraordinary during this historic time, and he is firmly committed to overcoming the current challenges.
Dean Chun fully credits these achievements to his exceptional colleagues: deans, directors, and staff members in the Yale College Dean’s Office; heads, deans, and staff members in the residential colleges; numerous faculty members, especially the directors of undergraduate studies and those who served on Yale College committees; faculty, deans, officers, and staff members in partnering offices from around the university; and of course, the undergraduate students, particularly those serving on Yale College Council and in other staff, committee, and leadership positions. He has expressed to me his heartfelt appreciation for these Yale community members and the many dedicated alumni, parents, and friends whose gifts and time support them.
I have begun the process of selecting the next dean and will provide updates to the Yale College community about the appointment of an advisory committee. For now, please join me in offering Dean Chun our gratitude for his exceptional service and leadership.
Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology