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Psychologist to lead Graduate School

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2003 - Summer


As dean, Peter Salovey hopes to bridge a gap that is cultural as well as geographic.

“There’s probably no farther walk on this campus than from the Sterling Hall of Medicine to the Kline Biology Tower,” says psychologist Peter Salovey, Ph.D. ’86, the new dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. For graduate students on the medical campus, isolated from fellow students in other fields, says Salovey, “this is more than just a geographical problem: it is a cultural problem.”

In his new role as dean of the 760 faculty members and 2,300 students in the arts and sciences—that is, all students at Yale working toward M.A., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees—Salovey hopes to bridge that divide and bring together graduate students separated by discipline as well as geography. He will rely to a large degree on the McDougal Graduate Student Center, located at the Hall of Graduate Studies on York Street about halfway between Sterling and Kline, which offers career counseling, seminars in teaching, social events and a place simply to hang out. Salovey hopes that graduate students will be increasingly likely to trek over from the medical campus to take part in the McDougal Center’s activities, and also will encourage the center to offer programs on Cedar Street.

Salovey foresees an expanded role for the McDougal Center as a sponsor of public service programs, which already offer opportunities for graduate students to meet one another and to get involved in the larger New Haven community. “We’re very interested in encouraging community volunteerism and participation in social policy and social concerns,” Salovey said. “I will be working closely with the McDougal Center fellows who already are organizing such community service experiences.”

Salovey succeeds neuroanatomist Susan Hockfield, Ph.D., who in January became the first scientist appointed provost of the university. As did Hockfield, Salovey plans to keep his laboratory running, spending Fridays there. Salovey does basic research into how human emotions influence thought and action. With colleague John D. Mayer, Ph.D., he developed the notion of “emotional intelligence,” the view that just as people have a wide range of intellectual abilities, they also have a repertoire of measurable emotional skills and competencies that profoundly affect their functioning. As deputy director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS, he investigates the effectiveness of health promotion messages in persuading people to change risky behaviors, and he has conducted similar work on health communications targeting cancer prevention behaviors. In a quasi-academic role, Salovey also plays stand-up bass for the Professors of Bluegrass.

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