Yale’s President Announces He Will Step Down

Peter Salovey, the president of Yale, announced Thursday that he will step down in June after 11 years in office, during which he increased the university’s endowment, student enrollment, and its racial, ethnic and economic diversity.

This month, the university announced that its entering class was one of its largest ever — 22 percent of students were eligible for federal Pell Grants for low-income students, and 21 percent were the first in their families to go to college. A decade ago, the number of first-generation students was 12 percent. This year, Black students made up 14 percent of the class, 18 percent were Latino, 42 percent were white and 30 percent were Asian American.

Credit…Kimberly White/Getty Images

In Dr. Salovey’s last year as president, elite colleges will confront a new admissions landscape.

After the Supreme Court’s ban on race-conscious admissions, they face the challenge of admitting diverse classes while adhering to the new ruling, as well as the pressure to eliminate legacy admissions, the preferential treatment given to the children of alumni. Yale University has resisted eliminating the preference and about 11 percent of the class of 2027 are legacies.

Dr. Salovey said on Thursday that he had asked the admissions office to develop a plan that will be announced later this year.

“The educational environment we have created at Yale,” he said in an interview, “has benefited enormously from the diversity of our students on virtually every dimension that you can imagine.”

Dr. Salovey’s decision to relinquish the presidency is part of a generational shift in leadership at a number of elite universities. Columbia, New York University, Harvard, Dartmouth, the University of Pennsylvania, and M.I.T. all have new presidents.

During Dr. Salovey’s time as president, Yale’s endowment doubled in size to more than $40 billion. An ongoing fund-raising campaign has collected $5 billion toward a goal of $7 billion.

An amateur bluegrass musician, Dr. Salovey, 65, is a noted professor of psychology and regarded an expert in the study of emotional intelligence. He said he plans to return to teaching and writing full-time.

Josh Bekenstein, the school’s senior trustee, said Thursday that Dr. Salovey had fulfilled a “bold vision” he articulated when he took office — “a more unified Yale, a more accessible Yale, a more innovative Yale.”

Mr. Bekenstein said he would lead a search committee, whose members were identified Thursday, to find a replacement for Dr. Salovey, with plans to reach out to the Yale community for advice. Yale has never had a president of color and its one female president, Hanna Gray, served for only one year in an acting capacity.

When he took the helm of Yale in 2013 as its 23rd president, Dr. Salovey very much fit the central-casting model of an Ivy League president, having been part of the university for more than 30 years, first as a graduate student, then a department head, dean of Yale College and provost.

Upon taking over, he vowed to increase the school’s accessibility. And in an interview Thursday, he identified that as among his major accomplishments

“We’ve doubled the number of students who are the first in their families to go to college,” Dr. Salovey said, noting that was accomplished partly by expanding Yale’s size by building two new residential colleges, increasing the college’s overall undergraduate enrollment by about 20 percent.

During his tenure, the college also increased financial aid so that parents making $75,000 or less would be required to make no contribution to their children’s undergraduate education. And Yale increased financial aid in other programs. Its Geffen School of Drama, for example, known for producing noted actors including Meryl Streep and Angela Bassett, is now tuition free.

While steering the university through the Covid pandemic, he also expanded a number of its graduate programs, notably in science and engineering.

Like many universities over the past 10 years, Yale has faced a number of questions involving race during Dr. Salovey’s tenure.

Under his leadership, Yale first resisted, then ultimately acceded, to demands to rename Calhoun College, a residential college named for John C. Calhoun, an 1804 graduate and former U.S. vice president who defended slavery.

Because of the debate, Yale developed guidelines — now widely used — for determining how to address the problematic legacies of historical figures. And like many other universities, Yale has been scrutinizing its historical associations with slavery and the slave trade.

In 2020, Yale fought a lawsuit by the Justice Department under the Trump administration that accused it of discriminating against Asian American and white students. The lawsuit was dropped after Mr. Trump left office.

As far as goals for his final year, Dr. Salovey

said, “I think this would be a good year for us to beat Harvard in our final football game. I’d like to go out on a win.”

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