Dear Members of the Yale Community,
I am delighted to announce the appointment of Pericles Lewis, Douglas Tracy Smith Professor of Comparative Literature, professor of English, vice president for global strategy, and vice provost for academic initiatives, as the next dean of Yale College for a five-year term, effective July 1, 2022. An internationally recognized expert on the qualities and purposes of a liberal education and a devoted educator and mentor, he brings to the role over two decades of leadership experience at Yale and other institutions.
Professor Lewis joined the Yale faculty in 1998 and has been deeply engaged in the academic life of our campus ever since. As the vice president for global strategy and vice provost for academic initiatives, he works with faculty and staff to build on Yale’s position as an international leader in education and research. Among his many contributions, he worked with the Yale School of Public Health to launch an online executive master’s degree program and the Jackson Institute to create a new master’s degree in public policy. He worked with the deans of medicine, nursing, and public health to strengthen research in global health by establishing the Yale Institute for Global Health and serving on its leadership advisory group. He also has expanded domestic and international educational opportunities for Yale students by overseeing the development of programs with the MacMillan Center, Yale Center Beijing, Yale Young Global Scholars Program, and a number of other departments and centers.
His efforts to enhance the education of students at Yale extend back to many other leadership roles. As director of undergraduate studies in the comparative literature major from 2000 to 2006, he integrated two majors (literature and comparative literature) and updated the curriculum. In 2005, he began his work on the broader undergraduate curriculum as a member, and later chair, of the Yale College Committee on Majors. That committee helped launch two new undergraduate majors: South Asian studies and computing and the arts.
An eminent scholar of literary modernism, Professor Lewis is the author of three books on the social and intellectual contexts of modern literature (Modernism, Nationalism, and the Novel; The Cambridge Introduction to Modernism; Religious Experience and the Modernist Novel). Drawing on his extensive teaching, research, and leadership experiences, he is currently working on a manuscript on the role of liberal education in developing character, fostering community, preparing young people for citizenship, and encouraging the pursuit of knowledge. He also has published dozens of articles, essays, and book chapters, and he founded and edited the Modernism Lab, an early digital humanities research hub. He serves as the primary editor for the twentieth and twenty-first centuries of the Norton Anthology of World Literature. He has supervised fourteen doctoral dissertations, and his students have gone on to teach at leading colleges and universities around the United States and the world. He has been recognized by Yale with the Samuel and Ronnie Heyman Prize for outstanding scholarly work by a junior faculty member in 2000 and a Graduate Mentor Award in 2004.
Between 2012 and 2017, Professor Lewis left Yale to serve as the founding president of Yale-NUS College. Establishing himself as a respected authority on global arts and science education, he oversaw the development of Yale-NUS College’s innovative curriculum and the recruitment of a diverse group of students, faculty, and staff. As a result of his foundational work, Yale-NUS College inspired transformations in undergraduate education at the National University of Singapore and other institutions throughout Asia.
Over the past two years, he has advised me on Yale’s COVID-19 response as chair of the Academic Continuity Committee and a member of the Operating Policy Committee. Consulting with colleagues and students around campus, he helped to ensure the academic continuity of the university and developed strategies that enabled us to welcome students safely back to campus. He oversaw the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning, which provided critical support for online and hybrid education throughout the pandemic and assisted students affected by the disruption. During this time, he also guided university planning for the Schwarzman Center, which has played a major role in reestablishing a sense of community for students and other members of the university this year, and the new Yale Jackson School for Global Affairs.
Professor Lewis will step down from his roles as vice president and vice provost, effective June 30, to concentrate fully on Yale College. He will help transition the global affairs activities he led to the Office of the Provost, and he will remain responsible for the Schwarzman Center in collaboration with Yale’s graduate and professional school deans.
Professor Lewis earned his B.A. in English literature from McGill University. He went on to pursue his Ph.D. in comparative literature at Stanford University. He met his wife, Sheila Hayre, while they were both students at Stanford’s Hammarskjöld international cooperative. Ms. Hayre is a graduate of Yale Law School and currently teaches at Quinnipiac Law School. Their son Siddhartha ’22 graduated from Yale College on Monday with a B.S. in mathematics, and their daughter Maya ’24 is a Yale College sophomore, majoring in English and biology.
During this time of complex geopolitical shifts, Professor Lewis brings to his new role a distinct range and depth of expertise that will benefit students aspiring to contribute to the betterment of humanity and shape national and global events. In partnership with other university leaders and faculty members, he will guide the curriculum, intellectual life, student affairs, and residential experience of the Yale College community. Professor Lewis will build on Dean Marvin Chun’s immense accomplishments and set a vision for the future of undergraduate education that will continue to serve as a model for the world.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dean Chun for his contributions to the excellence and well-being of the college, steady leadership during the pandemic, and absolute commitment to the students. I also am grateful to the members of the search advisory committee, chaired by Professor Margaret Clark, for their extensive outreach to the Yale College community, in-depth deliberations, and thoughtful recommendations. To those who took the time to share their perspectives with the committee and me throughout the search process, thank you for your input and care for the future of Yale College.
Please join me in congratulating Professor Lewis on his new role!
Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology