Admins consider faculty dean

In the coming weeks, University President Peter Salovey will weigh the possibility of the most significant change in University faculty governance in decades.

On Monday, members of the faculty of arts and sciences (FAS) released a report recommending the creation of a new dean position: the Dean of Faculty of Arts and Sciences, an administrator that would oversee faculty in Yale College and the Graduate School, 43 percent of the University’s 1,023 tenured faculty.

Compiled over the last two months, the report closely examined Yale’s current administrative structure as well as those of 10 peer institutions. It concluded that — due to excessive responsibilities for the University’s senior leadership, opaque lines of communication and the lack of a centralized, long-term vision for the FAS — a fundamental restructuring of governance in the faculty of arts and sciences is necessary, in the form of the creation of a new dean position.

The Yale College and Graduate School Deans would see their responsibilities altered to focus more on student and curricular concerns.

The examination of the current administrative structure comes at an optimal moment, with both Yale College Dean Mary Miller and Graduate School Dean Thomas Pollard departing their posts at the end of the academic year. The administrative turnover will result in a clean slate for the future governance of the FAS

“Although the current [administrative] structure has many desirable features, it also presents a number of challenges and missed opportunities,” the report said. “The challenges to Yale’s decanal structure involve forces that strain the capacity of those in senior administrative positions to perform their duties with optimal effectiveness”

Although faculty will be able to voice their opinions on the report in the coming weeks, the ultimate decision on whether to implement any of its proposals lies with Salovey.

The committee that authored the report — comprised of professors Dirk Bergemann, Jack Dovidio, Emily Greenwood, Scott Miller, Linda Peterson and Ramamurti Shankar — met nine times to examine possible restructures that ranged from retaining the status quo to “radically reshaping” the current administrative structure of faculty. The resulting report is the first major formal examination of the University’s governance structure since a 1992 report that examined similar issues but did not result in fundamental administrative restructuring.

The committee proposed four models for reorganization of faculty governance. All models, in some capacity, reduce the current responsibilities of the University provost, Dean of Yale College and Dean of the Graduate School while adding at least one new administrative position.

The first model, which is the one preferred by the committee, would introduce a Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences reporting directly to the University provost, said Dovidio. Between three and five additional deans responsible for various academic areas would report to the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The Yale College and Graduate School deans would still report directly to the provost.

The second model is a variation of the first, in which the Yale College and Graduate School deans report directly to the new Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

The third model would produce more incremental changes, reducing some responsibilities from the Yale College and Graduate School deans by shifting them to other offices. This model also includes a vice president or vice provost for faculty, who would assume some of the financial and budgetary duties of the provost.

The final model would create three new positions — a Dean of Humanities, Dean of Social Sciences and Dean of Sciences, with the possibility of adding two further roles — reporting to the provost in addition to the Yale College and Graduate School deans.

Though the first model is preferred, Dovidio said, all four are “serious and viable.” He added that retaining faculty members in administrative positions and maintaining the historical importance of the Yale College Dean position are primary concerns of the committee.

Several major weaknesses in the current administrative structure were identified by the report — a lack of dedication to long-term planning, a lack of clear lines of authority, limited opportunities for faculty involvement in leadership, limited independent voices for faculty and the unmanageable scope of the Yale College and University Provost positions.

“I think there’s a recognition that two of the current administrative positions at Yale are too overwhelming for any human being to undertake,” said Tamar Gendler, philosophy professor and deputy provost for humanities and initiatives. “And one of those positions will become more overwhelming with the addition of two new residential colleges.”

University Vice President for Strategic and Global Affairs Linda Lorimer said that in 30 years, Yale’s budget and complexity have more than quadrupled without any major change in its administrative structure. Since the 1993-’94 academic year, the expense budget for FAS grew by 370 percent, from $133 million to $491 million.

“There’s just much more to Yale than there was,” Lorimer said. “And there hasn’t necessarily been any evolution in the organization of the academic enterprise.”

While not explicitly endorsing the report’s findings, Lorimer said the proposed models could allow University governance to evolve in ways that will support the institution when it is much broader.

Special Assistant to the President Penelope Laurans expressed a similar sentiment, describing the University as having expanded tremendously in the past several decades. Laurans said the current administrative setup was designed for a dramatically smaller and simpler University.

“The services for Yale students have expanded as the student body has shifted [away] from an all-male, relatively homogenous group of students,” Laurans said, adding that she expects the faculty to seriously consider the report’s findings.

The report also emphasized the lack of clear lines of authority in the current administrative structure.

The administration of the FAS is essentially a cooperative between the two deans and the provost, with much of the budgetary management embedded in the provost’s office, said Professor Thomas Appelquist.

The report also found an inherent conflict of interest in the provost’s current role. Although the provost effectively oversees the FAS budget, he or she is also required to give impartial attention to the budgetary concerns of the entire University — acting as both the “sole solicitor of funds for the FAS and the sole party responsible for disbursement of those funds,” according to the report.

Regardless of whether a major change occurs in the roles of the deans, the report noted, the University would also be well-served by a review of the deputy, associate and assistant provost and dean positions to increase efficiency.

Over the next week, FAS members will have multiple venues to discuss the report, including next Thursday’s faculty meeting.

“The committee was aware that the Dean of Yale College and the Dean of the Graduate School would be completing their terms in the near future,” said Senior Advisor to the President Martha Highsmith. “[They] were able to look at those role and their increasing duties and responsibilities as they considered various models for the FAS.”

Approximately 70 percent of the University’s students, a total of 8,269, are enrolled in either the College or the Graduate School.

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