December 12th, 2013 | University

Faculty senate to be formed

For the first time in Yale’s 312-year history, the University will have a faculty of arts and sciences senate.

On Dec. 9, members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences voted 49-7, with four abstentions, in favor of creating the new body for FAS members. Going forward, University President Peter Salovey will appoint a committee to establish the organization’s structure and rules, to be reviewed in Dec. 2014. The vote was brought forward by the Faculty Input Committee – a body convened last spring to evaluate faculty governance at the University.

“Our committee was a diverse one, but we were all persuaded that a senate can help here at Yale, as it has elsewhere, in providing a forum for regular, two way communication between FAS faculty and the administration,” said Political Science Professor Steven Wilkinson, chair of the Faculty Input Committee.

The issue of faculty governance reached a tipping point in 2012 with controversy over Yale’s partnership with the National University of Singapore. This past spring, Salovey and Provost Benjamin Polak formed the Committee on FAS Input “with the goal of better understanding the mechanisms in place for faculty input at other institutions and considering the possible approaches that could be effective here.” The committee submitted its recommendations, including the suggestion of a faculty senate, in November.

Salovey said he believes the new committee will provide a helpful plan to outline how the faculty senate will be structured.

“Yale is a place where essential administration – deans, Provost, President – is composed of faculty members, and we therefore should be adept at communicating with each other,” Salovey said.

The Salovey-appointed committee will also consider non-ladder faculty representation on the faculty senate, which both Salovey and Wilkinson stressed.

Morse College Master Amy Hungerford said the importance of the faculty senate is linked to the respect of the faculty for the elected members.

Stanford and Berkeley have full-scale faculty senates, while Harvard and Princeton have smaller elected bodies. Of the nine research institutions studied by the Faculty Input Committee, only MIT lacked an elected faculty body.

Salovey said he will announce the new committee overseeing the development of the faculty senate after the holidays.