Tamar Gendler ’87
Gendler is the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, as well as a professor of philosophy, psychology and cognitive science. She graduated from Yale College summa cum laude in 1987 with a double major in Humanities and Mathematics and Philosophy, then went on to receive a graduate degree in philosophy from Harvard University in 1996.
Prior to returning to Yale in 2006 as a professor of philosophy and to serve as chair of the University’s cognitive science program, Gendler was an assistant and then associate professor of philosophy at Syracuse University from 1997 to 2003. She was also an associate professor of philosophy and co-director of cognitive studies at Cornell University.
In 2010, Gendler was appointed as the first female philosophy chair in the department’s over 200-year history; she spent three years in the role.
The FAS website says this appointment made Gendler the first female graduate of Yale College to chair a department at the University. However, emeritus professor of history Glenda Gilmore told the News that Elizabeth Alexander — another member of the News’ presidential shortlist — was appointed chair of the African American studies department in 2008 and began her four-year tenure in 2009.
Yale Law School professor Tracey Meares confirmed Gilmore’s account. The University did not immediately respond to the News’ request for clarification, but the News obtained a copy of an email from the Department of African American Studies corroborating that Alexander began as chair in July of 2009 — roughly a year before Gendler was named chair of the philosophy department.
If Gendler were to receive and accept an offer to be the University’s next president, she would become the first woman to hold the role in a non-interim capacity.
Lewis, a professor of comparative literature and the current Yale College dean, joined the University faculty as an assistant professor in 1998 and became a full professor in 2007. Lewis received a bachelor’s degree in English literature from McGill University in 1990 and a graduate degree in comparative literature from Stanford University in 1997.
From 2017 to 2022, Lewis served as the founding president of Yale-NUS College — a collaboration between Yale and the National University of Singapore that aimed to create a unique opportunity for liberal arts education in Asia. Yale-NUS is set to close its doors in 2025.
Lewis went on to serve as the University’s vice president for global strategy and vice provost for academic initiatives from 2017 to 2022. In both of these positions, Lewis played a pivotal role in planning the launch of the University’s Institute for Global Health, the Jackson School of Global Affairs and the Schwarzman Center.
Apart from his duties at Yale, Lewis serves on multiple editorial boards and has written for the Chronicle for Higher Education, The Harvard International Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Times Higher Education. He is also a former advisory board member for the American Comparative Literature Association.
University Provost Strobel, who is a professor in the Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry Department, received a degree in biochemistry from Brigham Young University before obtaining a graduate degree in biology from the California Institute of Technology.
Strobel joined the University faculty in 1995 and served as MB&B department chair from 2006 to 2009. From 2009 to 2011, he served as vice president for West Campus Planning and Program Development. In 2014, Strobel also became the inaugural deputy provost for teaching and learning, where he oversaw the creation of the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning. He was appointed University Provost in 2020.
Elizabeth Alexander ’84
Alexander is the president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a philanthropic grant-making institution that manages over $6 billion in assets. She graduated from the University with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1984; in 1987, she received a master’s degree in creative writing from Boston University and in 1992, a doctorate in English from the University of Pennsylvania.
Alexander taught poetry at the University from 2000 to 2015 and served as chair of the Department of African American Studies from 2009 to 2013. In 2015, she was appointed the University’s inaugural Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry. Alexander was the first female graduate of Yale College to chair a department at the University, though the University’s FAS website inaccurately credits Tamar Gendler — who chaired the psychology department from 2010 to 2013 — with this.
Alexander has also been awarded ten honorary doctorate degrees, including a 2018 doctor of letters from Yale, and was selected to deliver the graduation address for the Yale College class of 2023.
Like Gendler, if Alexander were to accept an offer to be the University’s next president, she would become the first woman in the role long-term. Alexander would also become the first person of color ever in the position.
Jonathan Holloway GRD ’95
Holloway is the current president of Rutgers University. He earned his bachelor’s degree in American studies from Stanford University in 1989 and a graduate degree in history from Yale in 1995. Holloway joined the University as a faculty member in 1999 before becoming a full professor in 2004.
Holloway served as the first African American dean of Yale College from 2014 until 2017. Previously at Yale, he also served as head of Grace Hopper College and chair of the Department of African American Studies. In 2017, he left Yale to become provost of Northwestern University. He assumed his current role as Rutgers’ president in July 2020.
The Rutgers senate — which is made up of over 130 students, faculty, alumni and staff — voted no confidence in Holloway on Sept. 22. The decision came on the heels of a historic faculty strike last spring, a controversial decision in July to merge two of the university system’s medical schools and the ousting of the Rutgers-Newark chancellor in August.
Rutgers’ board of governors threw its weight behind Holloway, noting that the power to select Rutgers’ president lies solely with the board — not the senate.
If tapped, Holloway would, like Alexander, become the first person of color to run the University.
Jennifer Martinez ’93
Martínez has been the dean of Stanford Law School since 2019. She graduated cum laude with a degree in history from Yale College in 1993 and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1997.
While a Yale undergraduate, she was a reporter and arts editor for the News.
Prior to joining the Stanford faculty in 2003, the American legal scholar was a senior research fellow at the University and an attorney at the law firm Jenner & Block.
Martínez has also clerked for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and Judge Guido Calabresi of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, and she was an associate legal officer for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. If to become the next president of Yale, Martínez would be the first woman in the role long-term.
Elizabeth Bradley GRD ’96
Bradley was appointed the 11th president of Vassar College in July 2017 after a 20-year tenure at Yale. In 2017, Bradley was also elected to the National Academy of Medicine.
She graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in economics from Harvard University in 1984 and with a business degree in 1986 from the University of Chicago, where she specialized in health administration and organizational behavior. Bradley also received a graduate degree in health economics from Yale in 1996.
Over her two decades at the University, Bradley served as a professor of grand strategy, head of Branford College and faculty director of the Yale Global Health Leadership Institute.
Bradley — like Martínez, Alexander and Gendler — could be the first woman president of the University in a non-interim capacity.
James Ryan ’88
Ryan has served as the University of Virginia president since 2018. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in American Studies summa cum laude from Yale College in 1988 and received a law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he graduated first in his class.
After law school, Ryan clerked for the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist from 1993 to 1994 and worked as a public interest lawyer in New Jersey before joining the UVA School of Law faculty in 1998.
Ryan served as the associate dean of UVA’s law school from 2005 to 2009. In 2009, he founded the Program in Law and Public Service, which he directed until 2013. He accepted an offer in 2013 to serve as the 11th dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, before returning to UVA as its ninth president five years later.