Berke is the founder of the 65-person firm Deborah Berke Partners and has been a professor at Yale for over 20 years. She will take over from Postmodern architect Robert A M Stern as Yale's architecture dean in July 2016.
"I am honored to be named to this position, following in the footsteps of Robert A M Stern's extraordinary leadership of the school for almost two decades," she said. "I look forward to continuing his legacy, while bringing new energy and new perspectives to the school based on my experience as a practitioner, as well as an educator."
Berke will be the first woman to assume the role of dean at Yale – one of American's prestigious Ivy League universities – though she will have many female peers at other institutions within the group. Princeton, Columbia, and the University of Pennsylvania all have women architecture deans.
During his tenure, Stern restored the school's Brutalist home – Paul Rudolph Hall – brought in high-profile architects to the faculty like Zaha Hadid, David Adjaye, and Frank Gehry, and increased the school's endowment and financial aid.
Diversity and gender parity issues in American architecture have come to the forefront in recent years, something Berke will likely try to address. "We have a giant problem, and you don't see much being done about it," she recently told the Yale Herald, a student publication.
In a letter to Yale students, faculty and graduates, the university's president Peter Salovey wrote: "Her firm is – like Yale – deeply committed to diversity: it employs men and women in equal numbers, and recruits actively from a diverse range of ethnic, religious, and socio-economic backgrounds."
Berke's notable projects include the Yale School of Art, the Music Conservatory at Bard College in the Hudson Valley, the Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York, and the 21C Museum Hotels throughout the American south and midwest.
Her firm is currently designing a distribution headquarters for the Cummins Engine company in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana, a number of other hotels across the country, and university projects in Manhattan and Upstate New York.
In addition to Yale, Berke has held faculty positions at the University of Maryland, the University of Miami, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the University of California at Berkeley.
Photograph is by Winnie Au.