Long run

Michael Marsland

Michael Marsland

Retiring deputy provost Charles ”Chip“ Long carried the university mace for the last time at this year's commencement. View full image

You don’t often hear kids say “I want to be a deputy provost when I grow up.” But if anyone was born to the role, it’s Charles “Chip” Long, who retired in June after 28 years in the Yale provost’s office and 44 years at Yale.

Long, 71, went to Rutgers and got his PhD at Berkeley before coming to Yale in 1966 to be an assistant professor of English. Though he liked teaching, he says he never imagined himself being a great scholar. “I much preferred people to libraries,” he says.

But Long did become a student and teacher of the art of university administration. He spent eight years in the Yale College dean’s office, then in 1982 went to work in the office of the provost, Yale’s chief academic officer and keeper of the university budget. In 1987 he was promoted and given the title Deputy Provost of the University; in that role, he has brought clarity and reason to any number of faculty policies.

Lloyd Suttle ’69, ’75PhD, a fellow deputy provost, says Long’s greatest contributions have been “the leadership and skills he’s provided to the provosts.” Long says he was “effectively the primary trainer” of Yale’s last five provosts. The four who preceded the incumbent all left Yale to become university presidents—of Penn, Cambridge, MIT, and Oxford.

Long says he’s seen a lot of positive change in his time at Yale, most notably the “broadening of the place” in terms of gender, race, class, and geography. Asked to name Yale’s biggest problem, he has an answer informed by years of making (and cutting) budgets: “Yale tries to do more than it has the resources to do. We spread ourselves thin. No other peer institution has, for example, four arts schools, which are expensive. It’s probably part of why we historically underinvested in the sciences, something we’re working now to redress.”

Though Long spent most of his career behind the scenes, he took center stage once a year. Since 1997, as University Marshal, he has carried Yale’s official mace at the head of the commencement procession. “It weighs about 30 pounds, and it’s top-heavy,” says Long. “It gets heavy by the end of the day.”

Suttle says he doesn’t know who will succeed Long as marshal. “That’s one of about a thousand questions we’re asking right now about things Chip does.”  


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