Plans to increase the size of Yale’s faculty, the costliest part of the Committee on Yale College Education’s academic review report, elicited enthusiasm from faculty members in spirit but concern about how they would be implemented.
The committee recommended a 10 percent or more increase in Yale College faculty over the next 5 years to be implemented through a centralized Yale College Pool, or YCP, of faculty slots. The slots would be allocated to departments and programs by a committee appointed by the Yale College dean. According to the committee’s report, the new slots would fill perceived gaps in undergraduate teaching, and could be used to support recommended curricular changes proposed by the committee.
Faculty members said they supported the idea of increasing Yale’s faculty, especially since the University is still facing the effects of a 6 percent faculty cut in the late 1980s and early 1990s. But some raised concerns about the mechanism for allocating faculty positions, while others said they worried the new pool might create a division between traditional and pool hiring.
Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead, who headed the committee, said the YCP was intended to strategically supplement existing faculty hiring mechanisms by targeting specific undergraduate teaching needs. Brodhead said the ideal size of the faculty is always being negotiated, but that the 10 percent increase would result in approximately 60 new faculty members. University officials plan to begin a major fund-raising campaign in the fall of 2004 or spring of 2005 to support the committee’s recommendations, which Yale President Richard Levin estimated would cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Political Science chairman Ian Shapiro, a member of the review committee, said most departments at Yale are smaller than their national competitors and guard their hiring slots jealously.
“We needed a different allocation mechanism, so that the central administration can see where there’s real student demand — and reallocate them as things change,” Shapiro said.
The best mechanism?
According to the committee’s report, the YCP was modeled after one used by the Yale Center for International and Area Studies. Under that system, YCIAS provides positions for various departments from its pool of faculty slots. The YCIAS pool can be used for certain international and interdisciplinary needs that departments might not use their regular slots for, the committee’s report said.
Under the proposal, departments and programs would apply for faculty slots, and would have to prove that they are already using their existing resources fully. The YCP committee could also invite proposals from departments to fulfill teaching needs that departments may not consider on their own. Once the allocated slots become free again, they would revert back to the pool for reallocation.
YCIAS Director Gustav Ranis suggested a decentralized alternative that would build on the YCIAS model by expanding the YCIAS pool and creating others like it. Ranis said having a decentralized pool system would allow people with greater expertise in specific areas to have more control.
English chairwoman Ruth Yeazell said she supported a faculty increase, but was concerned that a faculty pool would give the regular hiring process less attention and urgency. She said she also worried that in order to make use of the new resources, departments might shift existing needs into the YCP.
“It will be tricky because the danger is, since faculty always want to expand — to either repackage things that you already do — or that certain long-standing, deeply-desired positions get short shrift because there is this other resource,” Yeazell said.
Yeazell said she saw a potential danger in the pool creating a division between traditional and new faculty appointments. Though the committee report acknowledged concerns that the pool would create a two-tiered faculty pool, divided between research faculty members and those more focused on teaching, Yeazell said she agreed with the committee that this would not be a problem because of Yale’s strong ethic of teaching.
Who gets the slots?
The YCP faculty slots would not necessarily be divided equally among departments, Brodhead said. Instead, they would be allocated based on proposals aimed at fulfilling other goals in the committee’s report that could not be fulfilled any other way. These include supporting some of the other recommendations in the report, such as increasing international education, science course for non-science majors, public health and health policy, and smaller classes for freshmen and sophomores.
Physics chairman Ramamurti Shankar said he thought the resources would be distributed to departments who could make the best case in an open competition.
“I think it depends on how creative we are,” Shankar said.
Shankar said the Physics Department might use YCP resources to hire a specialist on the border between two disciplines, such as physics and history of science. Another use would be for teaching in technology or in nuclear safety concerns, Shankar said.
Yeazell also said she thought the English Department might use the YCP to hire faculty members on the edge of several fields, such as history, literature and English.
According to the report, the YCP resources could be used to bring artists, filmmakers, journalists or distinguished figures in the government or business worlds to Yale as non-ladder appointments.
Yeazell said she thought one way the English Department might apply to the YCP would be to bring distinguished writers who might teach as practitioners in the field.