Scott A. Strobel, a renowned educator and researcher who has led a number of major Yale initiatives over the past two decades, has been named the next provost, the university’s chief academic and budgetary officer. He assumes the post Jan. 1.
“From chairing the University Science Strategy Committee to leading the development of the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning, Scott has been an integral part of our efforts to realize the university’s mission of research, scholarship, education, preservation, and practice,” President Peter Salovey said Nov. 6 in a campus-wide email announcing the appointment.
Strobel is the Henry Ford II Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and a professor of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
He has served as chair of the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry (2006-2009), vice president for West Campus planning and program development (2011-2019), deputy provost for teaching and learning (2014-2019), and vice provost for science initiatives (2019).
Through these roles, Salovey said, “Scott has developed a profound appreciation for all parts of Yale’s academic enterprise: arts, humanities, social science, and sciences and engineering. He has worked closely with the professional schools and the FAS [Faculty of Arts & Sciences]. He has partnered with faculty from across the university … and worked tirelessly in support of our students. As provost, his academic and budgetary leadership will extend to every part of Yale, and he is eager to further embrace the broad range of scholarship and research being conducted at the university.”
Strobel succeeds Ben Polak, the provost since 2013. Polak, the William C. Brainard Professor of Economics and professor of management, will return to the faculty full time.
“It’s a special honor to be offered this role,” Strobel said, “and I’m grateful to President Salovey for the trust he places in me to help shape and shepherd Yale’s ambitious agenda. This university is on sure footing thanks to him and to Ben Polak, who has been a remarkable example of integrity, discipline, commitment, and strategic acumen. I’ve benefitted from his example, and I’m honored to succeed him.
“Yale has long epitomized intellectual teamwork,” he continued. “The academic priorities we’re pursuing together are as interdependent as they are distinct, and that’s by design: The world calls for people and approaches that break boundaries to improve the world. I look forward to supporting our amazing faculty in the full expression of that work.”
Strobel earned his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology under Peter Dervan ’72 Ph.D. He pursued postdoctoral research at the University of Colorado with Thomas Cech, who shared the 1989 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Yale Professor Sidney Altman.
Since joining the Yale faculty in 1995, Strobel has won awards for promoting undergraduate education, mentoring graduate students, and leading research programs at the intersection of chemistry and structural biology.
As the inaugural deputy provost for teaching and learning, Strobel oversaw the creation of the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning, building a team that now provides workshops, consultations, and seminars for thousands of faculty members and students across Yale’s schools.
As vice president for West Campus planning and development, Strobel led the transformation of a vast former pharmaceutical research complex into a thriving workplace for over 1,600 Yale faculty, students, and staff.
As vice provost for science initiatives, Strobel chaired the University Science Strategy Committee convened by Salovey and Polak to identify promising opportunities for investment across the sciences. Salovey accepted the committee’s recommendations last fall, and in May Strobel took responsibility for putting them into action.
In his Nov. 6 announcement, Salovey thanked Polak “for serving as provost with profound dedication since 2013,” noting that he “led the university to secure financial footing and helped us launch the academic priorities that are guiding the changes to our facilities, enhancing investments in faculty excellence and financial aid, and increasing multidisciplinary scholarship and research across campus.”
Looking ahead, Salovey said, “We will be building on our historic strengths to shape Yale’s future, and Scott has the experience and vision to be a partner in leading the way.”