Yale-NUS defining administration

Yale-NUS is slated to open in the fall of 2013. Before then, the liberal arts college must find top-level administrators.
Yale-NUS is slated to open in the fall of 2013. Before then, the liberal arts college must find top-level administrators. Photo by Creative Commons.

Though Yale-NUS is in the midst of recruiting faculty and students, the jointly-run liberal arts college has yet to solidify plans for the upper echelons of its administration.

Current plans for the Yale-NUS administration call for six top officials — the president, three vice presidents and two deans. Since the college will open in less than two years, administrators at Yale and the National University of Singapore have staggered the hiring process in order to prioritize the most pressing positions. Only three of the six posts have been filled as a result, but even once those remaining appointments have been made, University President Richard Levin said the still-to-be-hired president of Yale-NUS will have the power to evaluate and rework the final administrative structure.

“We established what seemed like a sensible administrative structure within the college based on our experiences,” Levin said. “Of course, once we hire a president, he or she may want to reorganize it.”

Administrators at Yale and NUS launched an international search last summer for the inaugural president of Yale-NUS, which is expected to conclude by the summer. The three vice presidents of Yale-NUS will handle the main aspects of the college — academics, administration and fundraising — but University Vice President and Secretary Linda Lorimer said the Yale-NUS president will also have the power to hire additional personnel that report directly to him or her.

Though administrators have outlined the six main positions within the Yale-NUS administration, the president, vice president for development, and dean of students have yet to be hired. Yale-NUS has already appointed Doris Sohmen-Pao as vice president for administration and advancement, and Lily Kong as the school’s acting vice president for academic affairs. Sohmen-Pao formerly served as a trustee at Princeton University and director of Singapore Management University’s MBA program, while Kong is the current vice president for university and global relations at NUS.

Yale-NUS has staggered its administrative appointments to prioritize the immediate needs of the college, such as faculty and student recruitment, Lorimer said. As such, Levin said Yale-NUS first hired Charles Bailyn as dean of faculty in 2010 to jump-start faculty and student recruitment, and then brought on Kong last summer and Sohmen-Pao in November.

“Imagine starting this up,” Lorimer said. “We’re in the midst of hiring faculty, so you have to have someone who can do that, then you need a vice president for administration since you’re actually beginning to recruit students and put together a budget. Fundraising for endowments serves you well in the future and has a very important function, but the other functions have to be started right away, and actually are underway.”

The search for a dean of students is ongoing, but the hunt for a vice president for development will not begin until Yale-NUS selects a president. Lorimer said administrators expect the president and vice president for development to work together closely, and felt the development appointment was less pressing than the other two vice presidencies.

Though Lorimer said she expects most administrative appointments to be long-term, Bailyn has already served for three years and is expected to step down by the end of the 2013-’14 academic year. Kong is only serving as acting vice president for academic affairs, and Levin said it will be up to the Yale-NUS president to determine when Kong’s successor will be found.

Lorimer said Kong will have duties similar to those of a provost, overseeing academic affairs and the offices of the dean of students, dean of faculty, international experience and career counseling. The college’s non-academic affairs — other than fundraising — will be overseen by Sohmen-Pao, who will supervise the offices of human resources, finance, admissions and financial aid, Lorimer said. Though NUS President Tan Chorh Chuan is currently handling Yale-NUS fundraising efforts, the vice president for development will eventually assume that responsibility, Lorimer added.

Ronald Ehrenberg, director of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute, said plans for the relatively small Yale-NUS administrative structure are reasonable and avoid the “title inflation” found at many universities and corporations today. While academics, administration and fundraising could all theoretically fall under deanships, Ehrenberg said he thought the vice president titles would help establish the importance of those administrators in the new college — especially when soliciting donations.

Ehrenberg added that it is logical for the Yale-NUS president to have the final say in determining the college’s administrative structure.

“A business plan is merely a plan and if a new leader wants to change it, that makes sense,” he said.

Yale-NUS is scheduled to open in fall 2013.

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