West Campus unaffected by Levin’s departure, admins and scientists say

University President Richard Levin led Yale in its $109 million purchase of West Campus, a former Bayer Pharmaceuticals campus, in 2007.
University President Richard Levin led Yale in its $109 million purchase of West Campus, a former Bayer Pharmaceuticals campus, in 2007. Photo by Christopher Peak.

Despite University President Richard Levin’s integral role in creating Yale’s West Campus, his resignation at the end of this year is unlikely to change the future of the scientific hub, West Campus administrators and scientists say.

The majority of the West Campus faculty and administrators interviewed, and Levin himself, said that West Campus has enough momentum to continue growing, regardless of who his successor is. Development of the facility, originally purchased in 2007, was delayed by the collapse of Yale’s endowment in the economic crisis. However, the recent recovery of Yale’s endowment — combined with alumni gifts — has jump-started the recruitment of faculty and forming of institutes to fill the approximately 550,000 square feet of existing research space.

“We have great momentum on the West Campus,” Levin said in an email to the News. “My departure will have no significant impact.”

Levin said he was not concerned that his successor’s vision for West Campus would conflict with his own. He added that the next president will develop a plan for the facility consistent with his or her strategy for the University as a whole.

Gifts like the $25 million given to establish the Energy Sciences Institute and next year’s move of the Yale School of Nursing to West Campus are indicative of West Campus’s present and future growth, said Scott Strobel, vice president for West Campus planning and program development.

“At this point, I think the West Campus has reached a tipping point,” Strobel said. “There are enough programs and faculty and entire schools now that are calling the West Campus home that the point at which we can turn back has long since past.”

Eduardo Groisman, a professor of microbial pathogenesis and a member of the West Campus Microbial Diversity Institute, said that West Campus funding is secure, because a large part of the day-to-day operations budget for the laboratories comes from the state and federal governments.

The funding for special initiatives, like the purchase of new laboratory equipment, still comes in large part from the University he said, adding that he believes Yale will continue to support the facility, regardless of who serves as the school’s next president.

Howard Ochman, director of the Microbial Diversity Institute, said he is optimistic about the future of West Campus because the sciences have become a key piece of the University’s growth and development in recent years, with West Campus playing a central role. He added that Edward Bass ’67, senior fellow of the Yale Corporation, is a strong supporter of the sciences.

Yet not all West Campus faculty expressed as much confidence that the University’s next president will prioritize West Campus.

“[President Levin was] one of [West Campus’] strongest supporters, and finding a president with an similar vision or a president who will be willing to truly empower institute leaders to build a vision will be challenging,” said Andy Phillips, professor of chemistry and a member of the Chemical Biology Institute at West Campus, in an email to the News.

Yale purchased the 136 acre property that would become known as West Campus from Bayer Pharmaceuticals for $109 million in 2007.

Comments

  • yalengineer

    It will be of up most importance that Yale and West Haven work together to build a community around the new campus. Science Park is currently a complete bore and is unable to recruit talent so we must learn from that mistake.