Corp discusses Yale-NUS, shared services

Two issues that have recently sparked controversy among faculty reached this weekend’s meeting of the Yale Corporation, the University’s highest governing body.

University President Richard Levin told the News that the Corporation discussed shared services, Yale-NUS, the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute and Yale’s development of the areas around Yale Health and Science Park. Two of these issues — shared services, a University push to centralize administrative work, and the jointly run liberal arts college Yale will open with the National University of Singapore in fall 2013 — have raised concern among some professors who feel that administrators made decisions without adequately consulting faculty. At the meeting, Levin said administrators were careful to explain the controversy surrounding these issues to the Corporation.

“We certainly apprise the Corporation about the concerns in the faculty and talk about how we might best approach those,” Levin said, though he declined to comment on how the Corporation responded to discussions of controversy regarding shared services and Yale-NUS.

Shared services came under fire from about 20 professors at the Feb. 2 faculty meeting. The group of professors criticized the initiative as unilaterally implemented by the administration without considering the needs of individual departments. At the Corporation meeting, Vice President for Finance and Business Operation Shauna King gave a presentation on changes Yale has made to shared services, reviewing how the initiative has succeeded and “where there is work to be accomplished,” Levin said. He added that the Corporation discussed ongoing efforts to improve the faculty experience with shared services.

The administration was criticized again after Yale College Dean Mary Miller sent an email to faculty on Feb. 17 announcing that the March 1 faculty meeting would be cancelled due to “very few agenda items of Yale College business.” Faculty had planned to discuss Yale-NUS and their role in its planning at the upcoming meeting, but after they protested the cancellation, Miller reversed the decision the following day.

This past weekend, the Corporation heard a presentation from three faculty members involved with Yale-NUS on the college’s progress with regard to faculty recruitment, student admissions and curriculum development. The updates were met with “enthusiasm and interest” by the Corporation, Levin said. Though some professors have expressed concern that administrators did not consult the faculty properly in planning Yale-NUS, Levin told the News last week that the decision to start the college ultimately lay with the Corporation, since it is a new school and not a program within Yale College.

Yale-NUS remains on the agenda for this Thursday’s faculty meeting.

In addition to addressing shared services and Yale-NUS, the Corporation reviewed entrepreneurship at Yale with a presentation from four graduates of the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute’s fellowship program. They also toured development efforts in Science Park and the area around Yale Health — where recent construction has included the new Yale police station and a parking lot — with Vice President for New Haven and State Affairs and Campus Development Bruce Alexander.

While the Corporation’s 17 fellows split into smaller committees to review specific policies in most meetings, Levin said the Corporation generally stays together to review a larger University initiative at its February meeting. This year, the Corporation addressed four larger issues.

Past February meetings have included a review of the School of Medicine in 2011 and a review of Yale’s West Campus expansion in 2010.

Comments

  • Bim

    Of course, Shared Services is a great idea. Every small department at Yale does not need a business manager, a web developer, an IT manager, a financial analyst, a budget preparer, etc. Consider the success of Yale’s printing office!

    So the university must examine administrators of Shared Services. Do employees have time to explore department needs and hear faculty concerns? Are good relations or adversarial relations encouraged? Do Shared Services staff try to educate Yale staff – in a respectful way – about finance, budgeting, long-term goals? Or are they secretive and competitive with individual departments?

    It would be a shame if a good idea fails because of poor management.