Teacher and Researcher Marvin Chun Named Dean of Yale College

April 27, 2017

Marvin Chun, the Richard M. Colgate Professor of Psychology and professor of neuroscience, has been appointed as the next dean of Yale College, President Salovey announced on April 27.

Chun’s five-year term is effective on July 1. He succeeds Jonathan Holloway, who is leaving Yale at the end of the semester to become provost at Northwestern University.

“Yale College students have benefited greatly from Professor Chun’s dedication to teaching and learning, as evidenced by the popularity of his ‘Introduction to Psychology’ course and his teaching awards — the Lex Hixon Prize for Teaching Excellence in the Social Sciences and the Phi Beta Kappa William Clyde DeVane Award to recognize character, scholarship, and distinguished undergraduate teaching,” said Salovey. “Through his service as Berkeley’s head of college from 2007 to 2016, Professor Chun developed a deep understanding of Yale undergraduate life. His enthusiasm for supporting students and talent for creating a positive and stimulating environment made him one of the most beloved heads of college.”

Chun earned his Ph.D. from the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He then received a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellowship to work in the Vision Sciences Lab at Harvard University. He then became an assistant professor in Yale’s Department of Psychology and Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program. In 1999, he took a tenured associate professor position at Vanderbilt University, returing to Yale in 2003 as professor of psychology. His wife, Woo-Kyoung Ahn, is a professor of psychology at Yale; they have two children, Allison and Nathan.

Chun is known for his innovative use of brain-imaging and behavioral methods to study attention, perception, memory, and learning. He has published more than 100 articles, and his research has been highly cited, frequently featured in the popular media, and honored with the highest prizes for early-mid career researchers, such as the Troland Research Award from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and Society of Experimental Psychologists.

Future Yale College Dean Marvin Chun and President Peter Salovey (center) are flanked by the current dean, Jonathan Holloway, and his precedessor in that post, Mary Miller. (Photo by Michael Marsland)

He combines his research and teaching expertise to create opportunities for students. In his lab, undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows have successfully completed projects and published their work in neuroscience and psychology journals. Former students have gained faculty positions at peer institutions such as Harvard, Princeton, and Johns Hopkins University. Recently, he spearheaded a joint effort by the Department of Psychology and the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology to create the new neuroscience major for Yale College undergraduates.

“I am asking Professor Chun to assume leadership of Yale College at an exciting moment,” said Salovey. “He shares my passionate commitment to educational excellence, and we are determined that Yale College will not only retain but even expand its preeminent position among undergraduate institutions. Yale has many unique advantages in providing an unmatched academic experience: the devotion and effort of the entire Faculty of Arts and Sciences as instructors in undergraduate classrooms; the unparalleled environment within our residential colleges, each of which is led by an exceptional member of Yale’s faculty; and the astonishing intellectual potential and inspiring engagement of our student body. In collaboration with the faculty, the team in the Yale College Dean’s Office, and leaders around the university, Professor Chun is prepared to renew and reinvigorate Yale College, and I know we all look forward to engaging in that work with him.”

Salovey thanked the members of the search committee —  Enrique De La Cruz (chair), Julia Adams, Bhart-Anjan Bhullar, Sarah Demers, Jessie Hill, Shelly Kagan, Alice Kaplan, Sharon Kugler, Corey O’Hern, Catherine Panter-Brick, Anthony Reed, Steven Smith, and Brandon Marks ’18 — for their “thoughtful efforts and careful deliberation that led to Professor Chun’s appointment.”

He also expressed his gratitude to Holloway “for his exemplary leadership as dean during the past three years. We look forward to the continuation of his legacy of growth for Yale College, compassionate leadership, and unswerving wisdom under Professor Chun’s tenure in the deanship.”

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