Dear Members of the Yale Community,
The quieter, slower pace of the summer provided an opportunity for reflection on my ten years as Yale’s president. Over the past couple of months, I have thought a lot about our university and the most auspicious time to begin a leadership transition. There is no perfect moment for one—there is always more to do. Yet, I believe the best time to search for a new leader is when things are going well. It allows for a thoughtful process and a smooth transition. I hope you share my view that we emerged from the COVID era a stronger university, and over the past decade, one that has made serious and meaningful strides to be even more preeminent in teaching and research, in addressing pressing global challenges, and in preparing the next generation to serve and lead worldwide. I say this in the context of some very good news about our fundraising campaign, For Humanity: Over the summer, we surpassed the $5 billion milestone on the way to the $7 billion goal.
Therefore, I have decided that the 2023-2024 academic year will be my final one as president. I have communicated to the senior trustee of the Yale Corporation, Josh Bekenstein, that I plan to step down on June 30, 2024, after serving for eleven years. If more time is needed to conclude a search for my successor, I have let him know that he could count on me to extend this date to provide leadership continuity. Ultimately, I plan to return to the Yale faculty, work on some long-delayed writing and research projects, and renew my love of teaching and working with students while continuing to help with fundraising.
There will be other moments in the coming year to reflect more fully on what we have accomplished together over more than a decade. For now, I am reminded of a set of aspirations articulated on my very first day as president-designate: Yale should be more accessible, more innovative, more unified, and even more excellent. Observing the university today, I believe we have advanced significantly in pursuit of these goals. (Please see this article for a description of how we, together, have made substantial progress during the last decade.)
Today, I am reminded of the moment I arrived at Yale in August 1981. I was a graduate student in the Department of Psychology and never imagined that decades later I would have the privilege and joy of serving as the university’s leader. Every role I have held at Yale prior to the presidency—as a faculty member running a laboratory and as an educator in the Department of Psychology, and later chair of that department; as a dean, first of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and then of Yale College; and as provost of the university—only deepened my appreciation for our faculty, staff, students, and alumni, as well as my love for this institution. When I was asked on November 8, 2012, by then senior trustee Edward P. Bass to take on the presidency, I was thrilled and humbled. I have loved every day since, even the most challenging ones.
I make this announcement today with enormous appreciation and gratitude for all those who have supported Yale’s progress over the last decade, including devoted university trustees; dedicated provosts, vice presidents, and deans; a brilliant faculty of scholars, researchers, educators, and practitioners; a committed and talented university staff who give of themselves tirelessly (even during a pandemic); loyal and generous alumni; and students who inspire us daily to realize our mission of improving the world today and for future generations through outstanding research and scholarship, education, preservation, and practice. I am especially grateful to the talented teams in the Office of the President and at 43 Hillhouse; they are like family.
At this moment, I want to thank one person by name: my wife, Marta Elisa Moret. I met Marta when we were both graduate students here at Yale, and we have lived in New Haven for four decades. She has been a marvelous partner on behalf of the university, hosting events, speaking at gatherings, and advising scores of undergraduates interested in public health. I feel her support every day (all while she continues to consult and teach about maternal and child health). I appreciate that she has delayed her full retirement to help me in a role not characterized by work-life balance.
To each of you in the Yale community: thank you. You have made these years as president deeply rewarding. I look forward to the work we will do together in the next ten months and beyond.
With best wishes,
Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology
Professor of Epidemiology & Public Health, Management, and Sociology