Announcement - Reappointment of Dean Heather Gerken

January 19, 2022

Dear Members of the Yale Law School Community,

I am very pleased to announce the reappointment of Heather Gerken, Sol & Lillian Goldman Professor of Law, as dean of Yale Law School for a second term of five years, effective July 1, 2022, pending approval from the Yale board of trustees.

This renewal recognizes Dean Gerken’s tireless efforts to strengthen the school’s tradition of academic excellence, ensure a rigorous intellectual environment by supporting faculty scholarship, and expand experiential learning opportunities for students. Among her many contributions, she launched a transformative program to educate the next generation of scholars and leaders, diversified the faculty and student body, and stewarded robust philanthropic support to enhance the institution’s educational experience and need-based financial aid programs. In addition, over the past two years, Dean Gerken has worked with faculty, staff, students, and alumni to make sure the Law School community can continue to thrive while navigating the pandemic.

During Dean Gerken’s first term, the Law School has admitted the five most diverse classes in its history with some of the highest yields ever, welcoming talented students from around the world with a strong record of academic performance and exceptional accomplishments. She has also helped nearly triple the number of veterans attending Yale Law School by expanding the Yellow Ribbon Program and worked diligently to provide financial, professional, and mentoring support for the many students who are the first in their families to attend college or graduate school. Dean Gerken has been steadfastly committed to increasing faculty diversity and excellence as well, including partnering with other parts of campus to bring in extraordinary scholars.

To ensure all students have access to the world-class legal education Yale Law School provides, Dean Gerken has significantly bolstered the school’s commitment to need-based financial aid by fortifying existing programs, adding new grants for students with the highest need, and creating a Safety Net Fund to assist students facing hardships. As a result of her fundraising efforts and astute fiscal planning, Dean Gerken has steered the school through the turbulence of the pandemic and kept it on healthy financial footing, enabling the institution to flourish and ensuring it will remain a leader in legal education for decades to come.

Throughout her deanship, Dean Gerken has championed the remarkable legacy of Yale Law School graduates who are leading across many different sectors of society. To build upon that storied history, Dean Gerken worked with faculty and alumni to launch the Tsai Leadership Program in November 2021. This innovative program seeks to set a new course for the future of legal education, giving the faculty the ability to build a wide-ranging curriculum for the next generation while providing professional training and mentorship opportunities for students no matter what path they take. Through this program and many other initiatives, Dean Gerken has strengthened the bonds within the dynamic Yale Law School alumni community.  

I would like to take this opportunity to thank those of you who wrote to or spoke with me during the review process, and I appreciate all who shared their perspectives with the Yale Law School Dean Review Advisory Committee. Everyone’s input will guide Dean Gerken as she begins her second term. I am immensely grateful to the members of the advisory committee for their outreach to the Law School community and thoughtful deliberations: Douglas Kysar, chair of the committee and Joseph M. Field ’55 Professor of Law; Anne Alstott, Jacquin D. Bierman Professor in Taxation; Fiona Doherty, Clinical Professor of Law; Justin Driver, Robert R. Slaughter Professor of Law; Paul Gewirtz, Potter Stewart Professor of Constitutional Law; Claire Priest, Simeon E. Baldwin Professor of Law; James Silk, Binger Clinical Professor of Human Rights; and Taisu Zhang, Professor of Law.

Members of the YLS community remarked on Dean Gerken’s dedication to the mission of the school, her record of building new innovative programs, her advocacy for scholarly and clinical work, and the inspiring passion that she brings every day to her job. I also received many messages about the ways in which Dean Gerken has nurtured and sustained a sense of community at the Law School, whether it be her practice of calling every new admit or the time she devotes to learning about the work, perspectives, and interests of faculty, staff, students, and alumni.

Dean Gerken has led the Law School through an uncharted moment in time, always remaining optimistic about the future and focused on the school’s excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service. I know that she is committed to upholding the core values of the institution and pursuing the difficult job of keeping the community connected as we navigate the ongoing challenges from the pandemic. She has already accomplished an ambitious agenda in her first term, and I am confident that the Law School will continue to benefit tremendously from her vision, talent, and energy in the years ahead. Please join me in congratulating Dean Gerken on her reappointment and thanking her for her dedication and hard work on behalf of the school.


Peter Salovey
Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology