Dear Members of the Yale Community,
I am pleased to announce the appointment of Scott Strobel as the next provost, the chief academic and budgetary officer of the university. Many of you know him well from his service to Yale on a number of initiatives. From chairing the University Science Strategy Committee to leading the development of the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning, Scott has been an integral part of our efforts to realize the university’s mission of research, scholarship, education, preservation, and practice.
Scott is the Henry Ford II Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and a professor of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He earned his Ph.D. under the mentorship of Professor Peter Dervan, ’72 Ph.D., at the California Institute of Technology. Scott then conducted research at the University of Colorado with Professor Thomas Cech, who shared the 1989 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Yale Professor Sidney Altman. After completing his postdoctoral work, Scott joined Yale’s faculty and formed his own research group in 1995. Since then, he has won awards for promoting undergraduate education, mentoring graduate students, and leading outstanding research programs at the intersection of chemistry and structural biology.
Scott is widely respected for his ability to align people around new opportunities and for his willingness to serve the university. Over the last two decades, he has taken on numerous roles to build on Yale’s strengths: chair of the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry (2006-2009), vice president for West Campus planning and program development (2011-2019), deputy provost for teaching and learning (2014-2019), and vice provost for science initiatives (2019).
Scott’s work as the inaugural deputy provost for teaching and learning demonstrated his commitment to creating educational opportunities for all members of the university community. At the Poorvu Center, he oversaw an extensive renovation and built a team of dedicated colleagues, who now provide workshops, consultations, and seminars for thousands of faculty members and students across all schools of Yale. The center introduces faculty and students to new teaching methods, course evaluation approaches, and digital tools, and it focuses on helping first-generation and underrepresented students thrive in their studies. In partnership with the Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration, the Poorvu Center also supports a grants program and an education series to encourage the practice of inclusive teaching.
In addition to his efforts at the Poorvu Center, his work as the vice president for West Campus planning and program development illustrates how he can collaborate with members of the campus community to turn ideas into a model for research and scholarship. When West Campus first opened, the facility was almost empty. Thanks to Scott’s leadership and the 1,600 faculty, students, and staff who today call West Campus their home, we have converted almost the entire 136-acre campus into collaborative and interdisciplinary research and education spaces. West Campus is now home to the renowned Yale School of Nursing, with expanded classrooms and laboratories to prepare the next generation of nurses and midwives for clinical, home-based, and acute care. Seven institutes, with faculty from seventeen different departments, tackle important questions in biological and health science, energy science, and cultural heritage preservation. Even the West Campus landscape itself has been converted to a space where students are testing their ideas to help sustain our planet. The campus is served by some of our most advanced core facilities, supporting our faculty and students to even greater scientific excellence. In addition, it houses collections from the Peabody Museum and the Yale University Art Gallery as well as conservation spaces to study and restore the university’s works of art, objects, and artifacts.
Most recently, as vice provost for science initiatives, Scott has been working with colleagues across campus to plan and implement the recommendations of the University Science Strategy Committee. In 2017, Provost Ben Polak and I convened and charged the committee to identify the most promising opportunities for investment across the sciences. Scott chaired the committee, and he led campus-wide efforts to collect input. The committee held dozens of faculty panels and listening sessions and reviewed nearly 300 suggestions from colleagues. After extensive consultation, research, and deliberation, the committee provided their recommendations, which I accepted after gathering the perspectives of colleagues across the university. In May, Scott took responsibility for putting the committee’s recommendations into action, and he has made significant progress in the last several months.
Through his work with the Poorvu Center, West Campus, and University Science Strategy Committee, Scott has developed a profound appreciation for all parts of Yale’s academic enterprise: arts, humanities, social science, and sciences and engineering. He has worked closely with the professional schools and the FAS. He has partnered with faculty from across the university on these projects and worked tirelessly in support of our students. As provost, his academic and budgetary leadership will extend to every part of Yale, and he is eager to further embrace the broad range of scholarship and research being conducted at the university.
I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate my deep gratitude to Ben Polak for serving as provost with profound dedication since 2013. He led the university to secure financial footing and helped us launch the academic priorities that are guiding the changes to our facilities, enhancing investments in faculty excellence and financial aid, and increasing multidisciplinary scholarship and research across campus. We are very fortunate that we will continue to benefit from his wisdom, scholarship, and expertise once he resumes full-time faculty status as the William C. Brainard Professor of Economics and professor of management. We will have many opportunities to celebrate his achievements during the months ahead.
In the coming years, we will be building on our historic strengths to shape Yale’s future, and Scott has the experience and vision to be a partner in leading the way. Please join me in congratulating Scott on his appointment as the next provost.
Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology