NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Yale University on Thursday named Provost Peter Salovey, a renowned scholar in the field of psychology, as its new president.
He replaces Richard Levin, who announced in August he would step down at the end of the academic year after 20 years leading the Ivy League university. Salovey, who was appointed provost in 2008, will become Yale's 23rd president, effective June 30.
Salovey was instrumental in academic innovation and reform at Yale, officials said. He was credited with providing more international opportunities for undergraduates, launching freshman seminars, enhancing writing intensive courses, and instituting rigorous courses that introduced science topics to non-science majors.
Salovey, a psychology professor, has authored or edited 13 books, and his work has been translated into 11 languages.
"Peter brings a profound understanding of Yale, and great ambitions for advancing the University in the years ahead," Edward P. Bass, senior fellow of the Yale Corporation, said in a statement. "The trustees were inspired by Peter's impeccable integrity and character, and by his unwavering commitment to excellence. These personal qualities, combined with his significant leadership experience, his stature as a scholar, and his deep knowledge of and devotion to Yale, make him the best person to lead Yale well into the twenty-first century."
Salovey, who is 54 and lives in New Haven with his wife Marta Moret, came to Yale as a graduate student in 1981 and has three decades of academic and administrative experience at the university. He is the only president in the history of Yale who has served as the chair of an academic department, as dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, as dean of Yale College, and as provost.
He is the latest in a series of Yale provosts who have been selected to lead major universities. His immediate three predecessors went on to head Cambridge, MIT, and Oxford, Yale said.
"To the faculty, students, staff, alumni, and all of the Yale Community: I look forward to years of listening to you, being inspired by you, serving you, and collaborating with you to continue to ensure that Yale is a model of higher learning and scholarship, and an inspiration to the world," Salovey said in a statement.
He has published more than 350 journal articles and essays, focused primarily on human emotion and health behavior. His 1990 article on emotional intelligence, written with his collaborator John D. Mayer, has been cited by other scholars more than 4,500 times.
Salovey helped develop the concept of emotional intelligence, the theory that just as people have a wide range of intellectual abilities, they also have a wide range of measurable emotional skills that profoundly affect their thinking and action. His work has also focused on applying psychological principles to motivate people to adopt healthy behavior.
Salovey plays the double bass and sings with "The Professors of Bluegrass," a group he and several Yale colleagues and students created more than 20 years ago.
A search committee considered more than 150 candidates, university officials said.
Levin was credited with overseeing a major building and renovation program at Yale and expanding financial aid and international ties. The university's endowment stood at $19.3 billion at the end of June.