University President Richard Levin announced Tuesday that Joshua Bekenstein ’80 and Catharine Hill GRD ’85 will join the Yale Corporation in July.
Bekenstein, the managing director of Bain Capital, was selected by the Corporation to serve as a successor trustee, while Hill, the president of Vassar College, was elected by alumni to serve a six-year term as alumni fellow. They are replacing Senior Fellow Edward Bass ’67 ARC ’72 and Alumni Fellow Mimi Gates GRD ’81, respectively.
“These two bring somewhat different skills and interests, and both have plenty to bring,” Levin said. “[Bekenstein] has great business skills, and [Hill] has tremendous depth of experience in education.”
Joining the 19-person Corporation, the two new members earn chairs around the walnut table in the Woodbridge Hall Corporation Room, where Yale’s highest governing body meets at least five times a year. To claim her seat on the Corporation, Hill beat out movie producer Bruce Cohen ’83 in an alumni fellow election, which ran from March 26 to May 19 and was open to all alumni who received their first Yale degree at least five years ago.
Maggie McDonnell, Yale’s associate secretary and director of Corporation affairs, said the number of alumni who voted in the election this year increased slightly from the last election, consistent with past participation trends. McDonnell declined to comment on the exact participation rate since the University does not make those numbers public, but the News reported in 2010 that typically 20 to 25 percent of alumni cast ballots in the election for a Corporation fellow.
Hill currently serves on the Governing Board for Yale-NUS, the 10-person equivalent of the Yale Corporation for the new Singaporean liberal arts college, but she said she will vacate her position on the board before the conclusion of her three-year term in order to serve on the Yale Corporation.
“I think to do both would be difficult,” Hill said, “mainly because of the time constraints.” The Yale-NUS board holds eight meetings annually, two of which take place in Singapore.
Hill said she hopes her work at Vassar will help her provide a valuable outside perspective, similar to the insight she has gained from the members of the Vassar Board of Trustees who are involved with other colleges. She added that she particularly cares about access to and affordability of higher education, which she has researched in the past, and looks forward to learning about other issues facing the Yale Corporation.
Levin said he remembers Hill as one of the “star students” in the Economics Department when she was earning her doctorate. From their time working on the Yale-NUS board together, Levin said he has gathered that Hill can be very persuasive while maintaining an “easy style.”
“She makes her point without insisting on it,” he added. “She’ll be a very good board member.”
Bekenstein is currently a member of the Yale Investment Committee — a group that reviews the University’s investment strategy — but he will step down from his post to join the Corporation. Levin said he expects the new trustee will still bring his financial expertise to the University, possibly by serving on the Corporation’s Finance or Audit committees. Levin described Bekenstein as a “very intelligent investor and a very ethical business person.“
After he joins the Corporation on July 1, Bekenstein said he will complete a summer orientation to learn about issues facing the board. Then he will be able to envision his own role in the group and on its various committees more clearly, he said.
“I think Yale’s a terrific place. I love Yale. I want to do everything I can to support Yale,” Bekenstein added. “I plan on learning a lot before providing oversight and guidance.”
President-elect Peter Salovey looks forward to benefiting from Bekenstein and Hill’s wisdom about financial challenges and academic strategy, he told the News in an email. Salovey will assume the University presidency on July 1, the same day Bekenstein and Hill join the Corporation.
Bekenstein said he has worked with Salovey during Investment Committee meetings, and hopes to be helpful to the new president during his transition. Hill said she looks forward to working with Salovey, with whom she first spoke on Tuesday, when Salovey called to congratulate her on her new position.
Bekenstein attended Harvard Business School after graduating from Yale and worked on strategic consulting at Bain & Company before helping found Bain Capital in 1984. He serves on the Yale School of Management Board of Advisors and chairs the boards for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the philanthropy fund New Profit Inc. in Boston.
Hill, who goes by “Cappy,” received a doctorate in economics from Yale and became the president of Vassar in 2006. Her published works include studies about affordable access to higher education and pieces about her experiences working on economic reform in Zambia. Hill also worked for the World Bank, the Fiscal Analysis Division of the U.S. Congressional Budget Office and Williams College before joining the Vassar faculty.
The Yale Corporation is made up of 10 successor trustees, six alumni fellows and the University President, in addition to the Connecticut governor and lieutenant governor, who serve as ex officio members. The two new trustees will join the Corporation as part of a routine rotation in the group’s membership.