July 10th, 2012 | University

Salovey backs most Nordhaus committee proposals

President-elect Peter Salovey
President-elect Peter Salovey Photo by YDN.

Provost Peter Salovey will accept most recommendations made in a spring report on faculty resources, but tabled a decision on whether to implement “tenure ratio guidelines” — one of the report’s central concerns.

A committee chaired by economics professor William Nordhaus ’63 proposed in its report that the University control the rising ratio of tenured to non-tenured professors with tenure ratio guidelines, which would require departments whose ratios exceed predetermined levels to focus on searches at the non-tenured level. Salovey wrote in a June memo that the University should “closely monitor” the rising ratio, but also noted that discussions with faculty members have indicated the issue requires “further study” before determining how to proceed.

Professors at a special April meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences were generally receptive to the Nordhaus report’s recommendations, which are intended to improve search and hiring processes. But they did not reach a consensus on the proposal for the tenure ratio guidelines, physics professor Meg Urry told the News at the time. Salovey said he will continue conversations on the issue with faculty members this fall.

In his June memo, Salovey accepted all other proposals outlined in the report. He said he will appoint an Academic Review Committee this summer responsible for reviewing the overall structure of the FAS and recommending changes to the number of faculty positions allocated across departments. The Nordhaus committee proposed that an academic review, which last took place at the University between 1990 and 1992, be held roughly once a decade to help “keep Yale at the frontiers in the advance of knowledge.”

Salovey said Graduate School Dean Thomas Pollard, Yale College Dean Mary Miller and faculty members across the academic disciplines will serve on the committee. Over the next year, it will help decide which faculty slots that have been authorized but left unfilled due to limited University finances should be eliminated or kept vacant to hold the size of the FAS ladder faculty at roughly 700, he said.

The committee’s work will begin this summer and could continue past the end of the 2012-’13 academic year, Salovey said.

While the academic review takes place, the University will also begin implementing a new faculty accounting system intended to streamline how Yale tracks the number of positions in departments. In line with one of the report’s recommendations, Salovey said that faculty positions will now be budgeted in units of full-time equivalents. Positions have been budgeted in units of junior-faculty equivalents, or JFEs, for about 30 years. But JFEs are the remnants of an old tenure system the University used until 2007 and largely irrelevant under the current tenure-track model, Salovey said in March.

Salovey requested a review of the faculty budget and accounting system in May 2011, and he released the Nordhaus report in March.