Yale college

School Notes: Yale College
January/February 2007

Long-time dean retires

Betty Trachtenberg, long-time dean of student affairs and associate dean of Yale College, who has worked with five deans of Yale College, dozens of other deans and masters, hundreds of student leaders, thousands of freshman counselors, and tens of thousands of Yale undergraduates, will be stepping down at the end of the academic year to enjoy a well-earned retirement with her husband, children, and grandchildren. In a 30-year career in Yale College, Dean Trachtenberg has had a broad and profound effect on the life of the entire Yale community. Dubbed the "Landlady of the Old Campus" for the attention she has paid to every aspect of freshman residential life, from public safety to the condition of the plumbing (and sometimes called the "Dean of Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll" for the student issues that so often have occupied her time), Dean Trachtenberg reorganized the oversight of hundreds of student organizations and involved herself personally in setting and enforcing policies concerning student health and social conduct. (See Milestones.)

Throughout her deanship, she has worked closely with the Yale College Council and has championed student participation in the governance of the university by arranging for their appointments to various advisory committees. Her strong sense of justice and her evident personal compassion have made her the ideal dean's office representative for disciplinary, mediation, and grievance procedures and have identified her as the person to whom students, parents, and staff turn in times of crisis. In one of the highest tributes a student organization can pay, Dean Trachtenberg was the subject of the half-time show at the Yale Bowl during the game against Princeton in November.

Yale/Peking undergraduate program takes flight

By the time you read this, Yale College students will have completed the first semester of the Peking University-Yale University joint undergraduate program, and the second semester will be underway. In the fall 21 Yale College students and 21 Yuanpei students lived together as roommates on two floors of Building #42 at Beida. The range of courses they took together, including "The Formation of Modern American Culture," "The City in Literature and Film," "Introduction to Chinese Economy," and "Directed Research at the Beida-Yale Joint Research Center for Microelectronics and Nanotechnology," as well as the courses for second semester, can be viewed at www.yale.edu/iefp/pku-yale/academicsfaculty.html.

While Yale students adapted to having no electricity in their individual rooms between midnight and 6:00 a.m., there were accommodations to American habits: the bathrooms were renovated to Yale specifications, with hot-water showers and western-style toilets; there is a common room on each floor, furnished with televisions, DVD players, computer work stations, potable water, couches, tables, and chairs; and, at the suggestion of the Yuanpei program administration, Yale and PKU selected a more advanced student, Li Kunlin, to serve as a live-in and part-time resident assistant to help with extracurricular activities and to serve as a liaison with the dorm and program offices.

New York Times managing editor teaches seminar

Jill Abramson, managing editor of the New York Times, is teaching an advanced course in journalism at Yale College this semester as part of the Yale Journalism Initiative, established by Steve Brill ’72 and his wife Cynthia ’72, which will educate, train, and provide career guidance to 15-25 Yale Journalism Scholars. A search committee solicited suggestions for the position from faculty across the university and received over 100 names. "Because of her award-winning reporting and significant books, Ms. Abramson quickly became a top candidate," noted Linda Peterson, the Niel Gray Jr. Professor of English and chair of the search.

Abramson was appointed managing editor of the New York Times in August 2003 after serving as that paper's Washington bureau chief for three years. She was the first woman to hold either position. Prior to joining the Times, she worked at the Wall Street Journal, 1988-1997, as deputy bureau chief for the Washington office and as an investigative reporter. From 1986 to 1988 she was editor-in-chief of Legal Times, a weekly Washington-based newspaper with a national readership. In addition to many articles and essays, Abramson has written two books: Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas, co-authored with Jane Mayer (Houghton Mifflin, 1994), which was a finalist in the nonfiction category for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Where They Are Now: The Story of the Women of Harvard Law, 1974 (Doubleday, 1986). In 1992, Abramson won the National Press Club's Correspondence Award for her series of articles on the role of money in the 1992 elections.

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