Yale College named English scholar Richard H. Brodhead as its dean yesterday.
Brodhead, the chair of Yale's English department and a full professor there since 1985, will succeed Acting Dean Donald M. Engelman on July 1.
Yale Acting President Howard R. Lamar, who named Brodhead to the post, cited the professor's "very capable administrative leadership."
"Professor Brodhead's longstanding interest in undergraduate teaching, involvement in curricular planning and commitment to students suit him splendidly for the role of dean of Yale College," Lamar said in a prepared statement. "It is a certainty that life in Yale College will flourish in his care."
Brodhead's responsibilities will parallel the duties of Harvard's Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Those duties include oversight of the undergraduate curriculum and of student life.
In an interview yesterday, Brodhead said he was pleased to be chosen for the job.
"You can attribute just about any platitudinous remark to me and it will probably be entirely correct," said Brodhead, the eleventh person to hold this position since it was created in 1884.
Yale faculty members said yesterday that Brodhead will bring superb academic credentials to the administration.
"He has been one of our best known and most eloquent lecturers in the English Department and he will take that eloquence into the deanship and use it on behalf of our liberal arts program," said Marie Borroff, professor of English at Yale.
Harvard professors yesterday praised Brodhead's appointment.
Professor of English Marjorie Garber, who taught Brodhead during her stay at Yale, hailed him as "open minded and progressive" and added that she is "very excited to see a humanist in the office."
"He's spent a lifetime as a loyal and wonderful member of Yale's faculty," said Philip J. Fisher, chair of Harvard's English department. "He knows the university as well as any one."
And University Professor Helen H. Vendler praised Brodhead's "remarkable sanity and perceptiveness" as well as his "even temper and high intelligence."
Brodhead, Yale class of 1968, will become only the second dean in 50 years to be a Yale College graduate.
Brodhead is known for his work on 19th century American and English literature. His honors include a Morse Fellowship in 1976-77 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1986-87. In 1989 and 1991, he was a visiting lecturer at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris.
Engelman, the acting dean whom Brodhead is replacing, is a senior member and former chair of Yale's Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. Engelman accepted the temporary position after the resignation of the previous dean, Donald Kagan.
The appointment is the first of two major appointments Yale must make in the next few weeks. Yale is also expected to pick Lamar's successor this month