Corp. to meet today for vote

A celebrated artist, a chief justice and a dignified assortment of rich people will gather today in Woodbridge Hall at an undisclosed time. Sometime in the next two days, at their covert summit, they will take a vote. The results of the vote and records of what they say will be sealed for 50 years.

And nothing short of the fate of Yale’s 12-college universe will hang in the balance.

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Catherine Ly
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Responsible for that fate are the 19 men and women of the Yale Corporation, the University’s highest governing body. After a year of anticipation — and almost a decade of behind-the-scenes preparation — the Corporation is expected to vote this weekend to greenlight the next step in planning for the addition of two new residential colleges, with a final authorization expected to come in June.

But for a decision that has inspired vigorous debate on campus for months, this weekend’s decision will be made in relative quiet, away from students and without any fanfare whatsoever.

That much is the norm: Corporation meetings are routinely shrouded in secrecy, with Corporation members forbidden from speaking to the press and the meeting’s time — and, technically, location, not to mention its agenda — kept confidential.

And this week’s meeting is unusually hushed, even compared to the normal level of secrecy. University President Richard Levin, who acts as the de facto spokesman for the governing body, has been unavailable for comment this week because of a family emergency. Levin is not expected to return to New Haven for today’s meeting, although he will be in communication with the Corporation by telephone during its meetings, according to aides.

But the vote — which was already delayed from December to this month in order to provide more time for two committees studying the possible impact of expansion — is still expected to occur, regardless of Levin’s absence.

“Everything is on schedule,” said Nina Glickson, the assistant to the president, in an e-mail Thursday.

Levin is the only University administrator who sits on the Corporation.

While the meeting will continue as planned, the University will not say exactly what that plan is. Glickson declined to comment on the details of today’s meeting?, citing Yale’s policy of not discussing Corporation meetings, and the administrator charged with Corporation affairs, Associate Secretary Patricia Zandy, referred comment to the Office of Public Affairs.

Helaine Klasky, the director of OPA, declined to comment. “We never discuss [the] Corporation agenda, nor logistics,” she wrote in an e-mail message.

According to officials familiar with the meeting, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the secrecy surrounding the governing body, members of the two committees charged with examining the proposal to build the new colleges — one regarding student-life issues, the other Yale’s academic resources — will brief Corporation members this morning on their report on expansion, released Monday.

The vote will follow either late in the day or on Saturday.

But even on the eve of that vote, there is little suspense to be found. For months, it has been seen as little more than a formality.

“I do believe the president, the officers of the University and the Corporation are enormously interested in this,” said former Calhoun College Master William Sledge, the chairman of the student-life committee. “They want to see it happen.”

But the precise results of the Corporation members’ vote will not be public knowledge anytime soon.

Corporation minutes are stored for safekeeping in the Yale University Archives, but they are kept sealed for a full half-century, according to the Corporation bylaws. So Yale students interested in finding out what really went on behind closed doors regarding the proposed expansion should mark their calendars for February 2058.

One thing that is certain, at least, is that not all 19 members of the Corporation will be present this weekend. Aside from Levin, the two other ex-officio members of the governing body, Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell and Lt. Governor Michael Fedele, will not attend, said a spokesman for the governor, Adam Liegeot ’94.

The rest of the Corporation comprises 10 successor trustees, who select their successors, and six alumni fellows elected by Yale graduates.

On Monday, Levin endorsed the expansion plan, which calls for the construction of two new colleges behind the Grove Street Cemetery on Prospect Street. Under the plan, the Yale College enrollment would increase more than 10 percent, to about 6,000 students.

Levin said at the time that he would ask the Corporation for permission to direct the Provost’s Office to develop a preliminary budget for the new colleges and the Development Office to develop a fundraising plan for the buildings, the cost of which a preliminary budget projection placed at no less than $600 million.


  • charlie

    Ok, so if the new colleges are inevitable: what will they look like?? The university is unwilling to spend the money to get collegiate gothic done right (and it would look kind of silly out of context in that neighborhood anyways) but georgian (i.e. pierson) is pretty bland. something contemporary would be nice, as long as it were good, stunning contemporary (i.e. zaha hadid) rather than something bland and unfriendly like morse and stiles.

  • Recent Alum

    The main question that Board members should ask themselves before the vote is, what would William F. Buckley do were he on the Board? But you can bet that not a single Board member will ask him/herself that question.

  • Hieronymus

    Great graphic to the right of the (electronic) article; too bad that it doesn't fully capture the general area of the proposed colleges.

    Anyone have an idea of exactly what the proposal includes, geographically? Or is it too early…

  • Anonymous

    "The main question that Board members should ask themselves before the vote is, what would William F. Buckley do were he on the Board?"

    I disagree. I'm not eager for Yale to become a champion of apartheid and segregation.

    Unless, of course, you meant that they should consider what Buckley would do, and then do the exact opposite.

  • Old Blue '73

    A map showing the site is on Attachment B of the full report. The report is a PDF file here

    and the map is on page 76 out of 102 pages. It is a triangle bordered by Prospect, Canal and Sachem Streets with the exception of the Mudd Library in the northwest corner of the plot on Sachem Street.

  • Hieronymus

    Thank you for the link to the report. Looked at from that vantage, the graveyard becomes far less of a concern. Although losing the SOM cafeteria would be sad (really a nice building--almost an oasis: subtle, refreshing, out-of-the-way), SSL is no big loss (IMO), and some of the other nearby bldgs/houses, while "nice," likely do not reach "historical preservation" status (and some are downright ugly).

    Hmmm…thinking of SOM commons: I wonder if one could build an entire college in that style…probably not.

    [aside: does anyone else find Mr. Kaplan's phrase "dignified assortment of rich people" rather amusing? Exactly the sort of stock lens expected from a current collegian… Of course, Yalies coughing up the equivalent of $100 grand/year ($50k cost + $50k opportunity cost, or foregone salary) would NEVER qualify as "rich," right?

    "Wealthy" (or, better yet, "affluent") carries somewhat less of a pejorative tone…]

  • Anonymous

    As long as the Board is tossing money in that general direction, they should show a little pride and common sense and finish fixing up the Divinity School Campus.

  • alum

    The Framework for Campus Planning, a document from 1999 or 2000, has details on what the geographical layout of the two new colleges might look like.

  • Hieronymus


    The only time that Div School should be renovated is when it is REDEPLOYED to a more useful endeavor. I only wish Benno had succeeded in de-commissioning that school; it is an embarrassment to Yale.

    [In a way, it's kind of like seeing the most beautiful and historic churches in New England--the Unitarian churches--now run by UU congregations--you know, Mother Earth worshippers, Wiccans, and whatever else would make true Unitarians roll in their graves…]

  • Anonymous


    I respectfully disagree. The endeavor is extremely useful and deserves to be a part of Yale. Your criticism is ill-informed and likely the result of pure prejudice.

    Or perhaps there are other departments you'd like to throw overboard…? Philosophy ? Latin ? Sociology ? Gender studies ?

    The Divinity School campus deserves to be fully restored, and as long as the University is sloshing millions around, it can finish making up for years of shameless neglect and slosh some of them up Prospect Hill.