YAAA had the pleasure of talking with Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway, who has accepted a Provost position at Northwestern University.
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
I played varsity football at Stamford, and was on the team for four years.
Given your experience as a student and employee of Yale, what are some of your favorite memories?
My time as the head of Calhoun College, which is now Grace Hopper College. I developed profoundly deep friendships with students, and it was transformational. I had a role to nurture, not like a parent, but as someone who wanted the best for students.
How have things evolved during your time here?
I have evolved as an administrator, having no prior experience. But over time, things have become second nature. I went from supporting 400+ people to 6,000 people, and from a staff of 5 to a staff of 250; with 12 direct reports. My quality of writing has also evolved, being surrounded by really smart people.
What are some of the challenges that you feel African American employees face at Yale and/or in this current climate, and what advice would you give for overcoming them?
I think the challenges African Americans face are society’s challenges, depending on your position. There are different kinds of pressure, and some ideas are deemed not to matter as much. Challenges exist among class lines for the dining hall staff and management. Other examples include: race class tensions, black students feeling staff members have treated them poorly, complexity in the police department with a black chief, and imposter faculty among junior faculty members. Race has to be overcome at various levels. Life is complicated, but not anymore so for black people on a daily basis. Things are better than they used to be, but there is work to be done still.
What is the legacy that you hope to leave Yale with?
For the two new residential colleges to open smoothly, as a lot of hard work went into it. I would love to be remembered as a decent and fair person, who listened to students and responded. I would also like to be remembered for my scholarship/work.
What are you most looking forward to with your new position at Northwestern University?
I am looking forward to Chicago, but I am not ready for the winters. I’m ready for a new set of challenges and opportunities, something different.
What will you miss most about New Haven/Yale?
I will miss great staff in the office, as it feels effortless. I will miss the undergrads, because I find working with 18-22-year old’s really interesting. They get to remake themselves without any risks, as they wrestle with their identities. Seeing students wrestle with other things and their studies is amazing. I am astonished by the earnest and great young people.
What career/professional advice would you like to leave with members of the African American community?
Look to mentors everyone. You need to find a mentor in your department if possible. Your mentor doesn’t have to look like you. If you are not able to find a mentor in your department, YAAA is a great resource.
Find ways to love the place. Yale is not perfect, but it is really special. Love should be allowed to be complicated. If you don’t love it, why work somewhere and be miserable?
Be positively and intensely engaged, and work to make Yale better.