To the Editor:
Michael Montesano ’83 (“World Fellows Program tainted by Talbott nepotism,” 2/22) is welcome to his opinion of Strobe Talbott’s distinguished career in the State Department, but his implication that Brooke Shearer’s appointment as Executive Director of the Yale World Fellows Program resulted from nepotism is both insulting and inaccurate.
The World Fellows Program was first discussed in September 1998, when President Richard Levin presented the idea to the Yale Corporation as a key component of his international initiative — well before the development of the Center for the Study of Globalization and long before anyone could have guessed that either Strobe Talbott or Brooke Shearer would be available for positions at Yale.
Once the World Fellows Program had taken shape, it was clear Brooke Shearer’s background and experience made her an ideal person for a major role in that program. Particularly appropriate was her directorship of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships, a program that had provided one of the models for Yale’s.
As a person who plays a role in the recruitment of faculty, I know how rare are the opportunities to attract to Yale a talented couple to fill two independent positions. Brooke Shearer was a compelling choice as the right person to serve as Executive Director of this important new program.
That this opportunity arose at almost exactly the same time as similar opportunity for her husband was not only welcome but extremely fortuitous for Yale. No unbiased person looking at her qualifications and the requirements of this position could conclude otherwise. For the record, Yale does not practice nepotism in any way. Members of the staff and faculty may not supervise members of their own families, but Yale has no prohibition against hiring more than one member of a family, including spouses. There are dozens and dozens of married couples, committed partners and other family members who work at Yale, a situation I regard as a great asset to the University and the community.
Charles H. Long
February 22, 2001
The writer is Yale’s deputy provost