Yale will not hire alcohol director

In the latest casualty of the University’s hiring chill, administrators have decided against hiring a director of alcohol and drug abuse initiatives, despite having accepted applications for the post since last semester, Yale officials said this week.

The decision to place a hold on filling the position stems from the Universitywide effort to cut personnel and other expenses in department budgets by 5 percent each, Yale College Dean Mary Miller said. In place of the alcohol director, a newly created “Alcohol and Drug Initiatives Advisory Committee,” comprised of faculty, medical professionals and one student, will carry out some of the duties originally intended for the new hire.

The Yale College Dean’s Office originally created a search committee for the position last spring but delayed hiring anyone until this year in order to attract more candidates. Miller said the hold was put in place after she consulted with University President Richard Levin and Provost Peter Salovey.

“In more flush economic times, we would have been eager to move forward with this position,” Miller said. “But I think we’re in times when some hard decisions have to be made.”

The director position was conceived as a way to further implement changes recommended in a 2006 report on alcohol policy as well as to facilitate a continuous examination of Yale’s policy and culture regarding alcohol and drugs.

“This position was going to monitor how well we’re doing in a formal way,” said Richard Schottenfeld, the master of Davenport College and a member of the new committee. “We thought that having a committee structure with the committee being charged to review how we’re doing in all these areas would serve some of the function.”

The committee was created, Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry agreed, to maintain this scrutiny of alcohol and drug culture on campus, with or without a director to lead the charge.

But Schottenfeld warned that the committee will not completely replace the intended functions of an alcohol director. “I think our hope is, along with so many things and budget issues, that eventually the position will be created,” he said.

The 2006 report on alcohol policy made specific recommendations with the overarching goal of remedying perceived problems with alcohol consumption on campus, including the lack of obvious ways to socialize on campus without alcohol and the lack of adult presence in places where binge drinking often occurs.

Many of the recommendations to remedy these problems have been implemented already, such as the creation of Old Campus fellows, said Schottenfeld, a co-author of the 2006 report.

Despite Yale’s decision not to implement a hiring freeze — a step taken by many universities in the wake of the economic crisis — Levin asked in a December letter to faculty members and staff that all departments and deans err on the side of caution in posting of new positions. In December, Levin projected that the value of the University’s endowment fell an estimated 25 percent — roughly $6 billion — to $17 billion between the end of June and December.

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