Corporation to meet once more before Feb. vote

In 10 weeks, the Yale Corporation will vote on whether to build two new residential colleges — perhaps its most important decision in decades, and one met with extreme anticipation on campus.

So as the 19 members of the Corporation descend on New Haven today for their last meeting before that vote, is Woodbridge Hall filled with nonstop chatter on the eternal question about what Yale might look like with 14 colleges?

“No,” said Corporation member Margaret H. Marshall LAW ’76, the chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Sitting in the lobby of the Omni Hotel Thursday night, she chuckled. “Not necessarily. I mean, we could talk about football, you know?”

While the expansion proposal has occupied the minds of many students and professor this semester, it is not the only thing that the Corporation — the University’s highest governing body — has on its plate. The briefing books that Corporation members receive before each meeting are onerously thick, Marshall said.

For this week’s meetings, at least, the proposed expansion is on the back burner. For the Corporation, it is business as usual, with a range of other matters slated for discussion.

By policy, the University does not release an agenda in advance of Corporation meetings, but the board is expected to consider significant financial-aid reforms, the planned use of the newly acquired Yale West campus and the hundreds of millions of dollars in campus construction scheduled for the next year.

All of those are pressing, important issues, although none is as compelling as the question of building two new colleges. That decision will wait until later this winter, and University officials have said no other major announcements are expected to come out of this weekend’s meetings.

While Corporation members have to wrestle with a range of issues, students thus far this year have focused their collective attention on the proposed residential-college expansion. At University-sponsored fora and in late-night conversations, students have passed hours debating the merits of the colleges — what they might be named and how they might look.

At their next meeting in February, the Corporation plans to enter the thick of that debate. But that is not to say the Corporation has nothing else to occupy it in the mean time.

Most notably, the Corporation’s Subcommittee on Admissions and Financial Aid is working toward a decision on whether to alter the composition of student financial-aid packages, University Director of Student Financial Services Caesar Storlazzi told the News last week.

Storlazzi said he would present a final analysis of the changes under consideration to the subcommittee and to Levin by the end of the month.

No official announcement about any changes is expected until at least later this winter, as financial-aid announcements are timed “for competitive reasons,” Storalzzi said.

The last major change to Yale’s financial-aid policy, which eliminated the parental contribution for families with an income of under $45,000, was announced in March 2005 — just about the time of year when regular-admission offers were mailed to students.

The Corporation will also review the University’s fiscal year 2007 financial report. The Building and Grounds Committee will approve funding to continue design work on the upcoming Morse College and Ezra Stiles College renovations and discuss a slew of other projects either underway or planned for the coming years.

The group will also move closer to determining who will be invited to receive honorary degrees at Commencement in the spring.

Although this weekend’s agenda may not be of immediate interest to students, come February, all eyes will be on the Corporation.

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