Corp. discusses colleges, engineering

Planning for two new residential colleges remains on track after last weekend’s meeting of the Yale Corporation, and a vote to approve the expansion is expected shortly after commencement, University officials said Monday.

The largest development from this past weekend’s meeting of the University’s highest governing body was the approval of a new School of Engineering and Applied Science, which was announced Monday by the Office of Public Affairs. Otherwise, Corporation members discussed matters ranging from the new colleges to building renovations to the 2008-’09 budget, University President Richard Levin said.

Levin, who serves as a de facto spokesman for the Corporation, discussed the topics of last weekend’s closed meeting in an interview with the News on Monday. According to Corporation bylaws, all records from the body’s meetings are sealed for 50 years.

Most anticipated was the Corporation’s discussion of the proposal to build two new residential colleges, which Levin and the members of the Corporation publicly backed at their last meeting, held in February. At that meeting, they ordered administrators to prepare preliminary budget estimates and a fundraising strategy for the two new colleges.

At the meeting last weekend, the Corporation received detailed budgetary information on the project from administrators, who were able to “present more than I thought [they] would be,” as Levin put it.

“We got a lot of work done,” Levin said. He characterized the meeting as a “valuable discussion” on the college project, which would allow the University to expand its undergraduate population by more than 10 percent.

But there is more work to be done before two new colleges will go up on Prospect Street behind the Grove Street Cemetery. While some Corporation members had previously suggested that the governing body might formally approve the colleges at this month’s meeting, that vote will now likely happen in June, as administrators initially envisioned, Levin said.

But Woodbridge Hall last weekend was not entirely immersed in envisioning a world of 14 colleges. Many of the Corporation’s committees were hard at work regarding other matters.

The Finance Committee, for instance, took a preliminary look at the 2008-’09 budget. The budgetary process is moving more slowly this year than in previous years, Levin said, because the University’s budgetary units were given more time to prepare their funding requests in light of Yale’s changed endowment-spending rule.

In January, the University announced it would bump its endowment spending by some 40 percent next year. Yale spent approximately 3.7 percent of its $22.5 billion endowment this year, but moving forward, its spending rate will be a minimum of 4.5 percent. Departments will have more money to play with beginning in the next fiscal year — something that takes time to plan, according to Yale officials.

In other business, the Building and Grounds Committee reviewed plans for the next stage of renovations to the Yale University Art Gallery, which will expand to occupy the entirety of the Old Art Gallery and Street Hall, the current home of the art-history department.

The art-history department will vacate Street Hall upon completion of the Jeffrey Loria Center for the History of Art, under construction on York Street adjacent to the Rudolph Building. The Loria Center is slated to be finished in August, according to the Office of Facilities.

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