Heather Gerken Wins Reappointment As Dean Of Yale Law School
Congratulations to Dean Gerken, and good luck to her in bringing the YLS community together after a challenging period.
Today Peter Salovey, President of Yale University, announced the reappointment of Heather Gerken as Dean of Yale Law School. The reappointment will take effect on July 1, 2022, pending approval from the Yale board of trustees, and it’s for a second five-year term. The renewal of Gerken as dean does not come as a surprise, and it’s consistent with my prediction from last year.
I’d note two things about the reappointment. First, it came fairly quickly, suggesting that this was not a difficult decision for President Salovey. Second, Dean Gerken is receiving a full five-year term, not a shortened term (which might have been viewed in some quarters as expressing reservations about Dean Gerken’s leadership).
Here’s the core of President Salovey’s announcement, highlighting some of Dean Gerken’s most notable accomplishments over her first five-year term:
This renewal recognizes Dean Gerken’s tireless efforts to strengthen the school’s tradition of academic excellence, ensure a rigorous intellectual environment by supporting faculty scholarship, and expand experiential learning opportunities for students. Among her many contributions, she launched a transformative program to educate the next generation of scholars and leaders, diversified the faculty and student body, and stewarded robust philanthropic support to enhance the institution’s educational experience and need-based financial aid programs. In addition, over the past two years, Dean Gerken has worked with faculty, staff, students, and alumni to make sure the Law School community can continue to thrive while navigating the pandemic.
During Dean Gerken’s first term, the Law School has admitted the five most diverse classes in its history with some of the highest yields ever, welcoming talented students from around the world with a strong record of academic performance and exceptional accomplishments. She has also helped nearly triple the number of veterans attending Yale Law School by expanding the Yellow Ribbon Program and worked diligently to provide financial, professional, and mentoring support for the many students who are the first in their families to attend college or graduate school. Dean Gerken has been steadfastly committed to increasing faculty diversity and excellence as well, including partnering with other parts of campus to bring in extraordinary scholars.
President Salovey makes no mention of any of the recent controversies at Yale Law School, such as Dinner Party-gate, Trap House-gate, Antiracism Training-gate, and FedSoc-gate. This is not surprising, given the inevitably celebratory tone of reappointment announcements, but it does suggest that Yale will be taking a “keep calm and carry on” approach to all the drama.
Congratulations to Dean Gerken on her reappointment, and good luck to her in bringing the YLS community together after a difficult period. The past year has been tumultuous, but I hope that the lessons learned by Dean Gerken during this period will make her an even better leader for Yale Law School in the years ahead.