In Memoriam: Betty Glassman Trachtenberg, 1933-2023

Betty Trachtenberg, a long-time administrator at Yale University, died at her home in Hamden, Connecticut on March 14. She was 89 years old.

A native of Philadelphia, she was married at the age of 19 to Alan Trachtenberg, who later served as the Neil Gray Jr. Professor of English and American Studies at Yale. Betty Trachtenberg began at Yale by working for the Summer Term (now Yale Summer Session) in 1974, before moving to the Yale admissions office for 20 years, first as an assistant and then as an associate director.

Trachtenberg was later named director of freshman affairs, with a special mission to oversee the freshman counselor program and orientation programs for all new students. She was then promoted to the role of associate dean of Yale College and dean of student affairs, adding all of undergraduate student affairs to her portfolio.

Among her many achievements as dean was the founding of the ethnic counseling program center and her oversight of the cultural centers for students of color. She was an early member of Yale’s Sexual Harassment Grievance Board and was deeply involved in the creation of the Sexual Harassment and Assault Resource and Education Center. She retired in 2007.

“Few people in the history of the Yale College Dean’s Office have had such a broad and profound effect on the life of the entire community as Dean Trachtenberg,” wrote Yale President Peter Salovey, who was dean of Yale College when she retired. Salovey noted that Trachtenberg, during her time on campus, had “worked with five deans of Yale College, dozens of other deans and heads of colleges, hundreds of student leaders, thousands of first-year counselors, and tens of thousands of Yale undergraduates.” On learning of her death, he called her work “unparalleled” and “inspiring.”

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