When the Yale Corporation convened for its first meeting of the year this weekend, University President Richard Levin welcomed a new leader by his side.
After former Senior Fellow Roland Betts ’68 stepped down following the end of his two terms in June, the corporation — the University’s highest governing body — chose 10-year board veteran and architecture enthusiast Edward Bass ’67 as his successor. Though this weekend’s meeting was Bass’ first as senior fellow, Levin said Bass has a long record of support for the University.
“There’s just no one more passionately devoted to Yale than Ed Bass,” Levin said. “He has been involved for many years — even before he joined the corporation.”
Officially, the senior fellow presides over the corporation in the president’s absence — including the annual meeting at which the board sets the president’s compensation, Bass said. The position also has a public role within the Yale community. Both Bass and Betts served as co-chairs of the Yale Tomorrow capital campaign, which ended over the summer after raising more than $3.88 bn. Bass also addressed major donors at the “Celebrating Tomorrow” gala Sept. 17.
Although Levin said the senior fellow is “first among equals among the trustees,” both Levin and Bass emphasized the joint role that they play in managing the board. Together, they are responsible for assigning trustees to committees, Levin said, adding that the senior fellow is his first contact if a decision requires corporation input. These discussions often take place outside of formal meetings — even in the exercise room of the president’s official home at 43 Hillhouse Ave., Bass quipped.
In that aspect of the role, Bass said, Betts excelled in part because of his close relationship with Levin.
“I can only aspire to be as good of a senior fellow as [Betts] was,” Bass said. “It is a type of leadership that really is meant to supplement and enhance the leadership of the president.”
In the 10 years Bass has spent on the corporation, Vice President and Secretary Linda Lorimer said he has proven his ability to work closely with the other trustees.
“He is one of those individuals who has a keen ability to listen well,” Lorimer said. “[He] then inserts at just the right time a punctuation mark of perspective that deserves underscoring.”
Levin said many of Bass’ contributions to the University have stemmed from his deep interest in architecture. After graduating from Yale College, Bass studied at the School of Architecture from 1968 to 1970 and has served as a member of the corporation’s building and grounds committee since his appointment in 2001.
In a Sept. 16 interview with the News, Bass spoke at length on the University’s ongoing and upcoming construction projects, including the recent renovations of Morse and Ezra Stiles colleges as well as the plans to build two new residential buildings beginning in the upcoming years.
“If in the next two years the colleges break ground, it’s the most exciting thing I can think of,” he said.
Apart from his service on the corporation, Bass is also a membership of advisory boards for the School of Architecture, the Peabody Museum, the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and the Yale Biospheric Studies Institute, for which he gave the founding gift in 1991.