When it came time to choose a replacement for retiring Yale President Richard C. Levin (PhD 1974, Economics), the University turned, once again, to an alumnus of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences — one who, like Levin, had served as Dean of the Graduate School.
Yale’s new president, Peter Salovey (PhD 1989, Psychology) has embraced his new role with characteristic energy and enthusiasm. He plans to focus on “a more unified Yale, a more accessible Yale, a more innovative Yale, and a more excellent Yale.”
Salovey, who earned his undergraduate degree from Stanford, came to Yale in 1981 to begin his graduate studies. As a graduate student, Salovey said that he had a freedom to pursue ideas, develop his own research agenda, and explore his passions. He collaborated with his professors and fellow students. “For me, graduate study at Yale was a rare and precious opportunity.”
Salovey met his wife, Marta Elisa Moret (MPH 1984), when he was president of the Graduate and Professional Student Senate, and she was its vice president. Moret, former deputy commissioner for the Connecticut Department of Social Services, is president of Urban Policy Strategies, LLC, which provides program evaluation and technical assistance to community-based health organizations.
Following graduation, Salovey joined the Yale faculty and has spent his career here, rising through the ranks to become the Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology. He served as provost from 2008 to 2013, dean of Yale College from 2004 to 2008, and before that, dean of the Graduate School in 2003 and 2004.
Salovey’s administrative leadership at Yale began with the deanship of the Graduate School, a special opportunity to be a leader and mentor at the place he found so critical to his own academic development. He enjoyed every aspect of being dean: working with all faculty, not just those in his own field; pursuing scholarship beyond his degree in psychology; listening to those, from Yale and outside the university, who delivered lectures on a variety of topics; getting to know students. And, of course, “I had the privilege of working with the Graduate School Assembly, this time as a mentor to those who were involved in student government.” Salovey went on to add that “Graduate School, especially at Yale, should be a time to become engaged totally in the life of the mind, and to pursue excellence in one’s field of expertise, while also learning about other disciplines.” Over the years, Salovey has taught and advised dozens of graduate students.
His own research explores the connection between human emotions and health behaviors, and to further that work he played key roles in establishing Yale’s Health, Emotion, and Behavior Laboratory (now called the Center for Emotional Intelligence); the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS; and the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Program. With John D. Mayer, Salovey developed the concept of “Emotional Intelligence,” which maintains that people have a wide range of measurable emotional skills that profoundly affect their thinking and action. He has authored or edited over a dozen books and published hundreds of journal articles and essays.
In addition to research and academic administration, Salovey is a serious amateur musician, playing string bass with the Professors of Bluegrass, a band he and his colleague Kelly Brownell (now at Duke University) launched some twenty-five years ago. They recently released their first CD, “Pick or Perish,” and performed at ROMPFest, an annual bluegrass festival in Owensboro, Kentucky. While there, Salovey was commissioned as a Kentucky Colonel by Governor Steven L. Beshear — an unusual honor for a university president, but just right for this Professor of Bluegrass.