Yale University has selected as its next president Peter Salovey, PhD, a psychologist known internationally for his work in the areas of emotional intelligence and health behavior. Salovey, who starts his presidency on July 1, will be the first Yale president who has held almost every type of administrative post on the ladder to the presidency, including department chair, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, dean of Yale College and provost.
"Peter has done everything here except sweep the floors," says Yale psychology professor John Dovidio, PhD, adding that faculty have particularly admired Salovey's fiscal leadership as provost. Salovey took the job just after the country slid into the recession, which hit Yale's endowments hard.
"He brought a stable, transparent leadership during a very difficult financial time, making a number of tough decisions, but always allowing people to see where it was leading and why he was doing it," says Dovidio.
While Salovey knows the university well, he plans to spend the next few months gathering feedback from the Yale community to inform his presidency.
"I am on a listening tour, talking to students, staff, faculty, deans, directors and trustees and discussing what we need to do together to make Yale a better university," he says.
His presidency will have four themes: making Yale more innovative, making it more accessible to students beyond the campus, helping the university excel in all its endeavors, and promoting interconnections among the university's many schools and departments.
In addition to working with faculty, students and staff, he'll also focus on collaborating with other administrators in higher education. "I am looking forward to being part of a group that tries to address problems facing higher education beyond just this campus," he says. "I am especially concerned about the availability of funds for research and scholarship."
Salovey earned his undergraduate degree in psychology from Stanford in 1980 and his psychology doctorate from Yale in 1986 and joined the social psychology department faculty soon after. He won two of Yale's most prestigious teaching awards, and has maintained a lab in the psychology department and continued to mentor psychology graduate students and undergraduates even as an administrator. Salovey is also known for his visibility around campus. As dean, he walked "Handsome Dan," Yale's bulldog mascot, at football games and conducted the marching band on occasion, and he plays double bass in the school's student and faculty bluegrass band, The Professors of Bluegrass.
Beyond Yale, Salovey is known throughout the world for developing the concept of emotional intelligence with John D. Mayer, PhD, at the University of New Hampshire. His expertise in that area has shaped his leadership style, adds Dovidio.
"He understands that while faculty can be very logical and intellectual, there are also a lot of emotions that come with a lot of the issues that he deals with," says Dovidio. "He has that good, full picture of it all."
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