Corporation to focus on economy

During the week following each of the last two Yale Corporation meetings, University President Richard Levin sent a letter to Yale affiliates describing the economic recession’s impact on the University.

As the fellows of the Corporation meet for their fourth and penultimate meeting of the year this weekend, though, no such letter is likely to follow the group’s gathering. Instead, the Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, will have a “fairly routine” set of meetings, Levin said.

Of course, the economic downturn will continue to pervade all of the Corporation’s discussions, just as it did when the fellows met in September, December and February. For instance, although the Corporation often uses its April meeting to approve a budget for the upcoming fiscal year, that vote has been delayed this year.

“Because we didn’t set the budget parameters until February,” Levin said, “we’re not going to have a final budget until the June meeting.”

Records of the Yale Corporation are kept sealed for a half-century. Agendas for the group’s meetings are always kept secret, but in interviews this week, Levin and other administrators hinted at other topics of discussion for the weekend.

Vice President for Development Inge Reichenbach will present the Corporation with a revised fundraising strategy for the upcoming year in a meeting Friday. Yale has struggled to raise money in this economy, although the University’s efforts were buoyed by a recent $50 million gift from John Jackson ’67 and his wife for the creation of a new global affairs institute.

Still, Levin said he had been in talks with the Jacksons for almost a year about that gift. Moving forward, the University will need to rethink the way it solicits donations during the current economic situation.

Yale College Dean Mary Miller will meet with the Corporation to discuss the ongoing review of the recommendations made in the 2003 report by the Committee on Yale College Education. The committee, which was chaired by then-Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead ’68 GRD ’72, revamped parts of the curriculum and advising programs at the college. (Levin acknowledged in a recent interview that the fellows of the Yale Corporation called for the CYCE report in the first place.)

The Corporation has 19 fellows, including Levin and the governor and lieutenant governor of Connecticut. Levin presides over meetings; the two state officials typically do not attend.

There are surely other topics on the Corporation’s plate this weekend, but Levin conceded that, because of the economy, there will be far less discussion of proposed construction projects than there has typically been in the past. School of Architecture Dean Robert A.M. Stern ARC ’65 presented plans for the two new residential colleges at the Corporation’s February meeting; the project is now delayed, and Levin said the fellows would not spend much of their time discussing Stern’s proposals this weekend.

Indeed, the president said with a laugh, “We obviously have a much lighter agenda for the Buildings and Grounds Committee than usual.”

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