Corporation focuses on budget, New Haven

Despite an ongoing labor controversy and an imminent announcement on early decision policy, the Yale Corporation focused primarily on long-term strategies during its meeting this past weekend.

Discussing future academic and institutional plans is typical of the Corporation’s annual September meeting, Yale President Richard Levin said. This weekend, the Corporation — the University’s highest policy-making body — focused on a number of issues, including the budget and University outreach in New Haven.

Levin said the University will likely announce the future of its early decision policy after the Nov. 1 early decision application deadline, so as not to confuse students applying under Yale’s current system.

Levin presented plans for integrating the capital budget into the operating budget — a change from the University’s current budgeting practices.

“We are, I think, trying to take our budgeting processes up to a new level of rigor,” Levin said.

In addition, Levin said, the University is planning to undertake a rigorous study of its buildings to determine how much it will cost to renovate them.

Typically, the cost of depreciation is calculated based on building costs, but the cost of renovating is often far more than building costs from 30 years ago, Levin said.

“Every year you should be charging yourself what the real user cost of your building is,” Levin said. “[We do this] so that Yale is not cheating its future.”

The University currently invests $80 million dollars from its budget in future physical plant improvements, but Levin said the figure needs to be around $100 million.

By increasing the level of investment, Levin said the University hopes to avoid the situation it faced in the 1980s, when the physical plant was deteriorating and administrators were unsure about how to pay for the repairs.

The Corporation also discussed the debt policy this weekend. Although the University currently carries $1 billion in debt, its $10 billion endowment offsets any risk of default, Levin said.

In addition, the Corporation spent a morning listening to reports on Yale College and the professional schools. Levin said Corporation members were very interested in the current Yale College academic review.

Levin said the Corporation also discussed the University’s multiple relationships with New Haven, such as Yale’s partnerships with the city’s public schools and biotechnology industry. Over the weekend, Corporation members took a two-hour tour of New Haven.

“It was a good educational experience for the trustees,” Levin said.

He said they also visited the area behind the Grove Street Cemetery, which will be the future site of the Yale police headquarters.

The Corporation also spent part of the weekend at the Gilder Boathouse, where it heard presentations from Athletic Director Tom Beckett as well as from the crew coaches and captains.

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