The ballots are out, and it is now up to Yale alumni to elect the newest trustee of the Yale Corporation, the University’s highest governing board.
Three candidates are vying for a six-year term as a Corporation alumni trustee. Alumni can choose between molecular biologist Gerald Fink GRD ’65, environmental biologist Thomas Lovejoy ’64 GRD ’71 and financier Theodore Shen ’66. The newly elected trustee will replace outgoing alumni trustee Frances Beinecke ’71 FOR ’74, executive director for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
If Shen is elected, he will be the first Asian-American to serve on the Yale Corporation.
All Yale alumni were mailed a ballot last week with descriptions of the three candidates, as well as descriptions of the current trustees. The polls close at noon on May 25.
The Yale Corporation comprises Yale President Richard Levin and 16 members, all of whom hold Yale degrees, as well as the governor and lieutenant governor of Connecticut as ex-officio members.
An Association of Yale Alumni standing committee selected Fink, Lovejoy and Shen as the candidates after accepting nominations and conducting its own research. Each of the three candidates was born in New York and boasts an impressive resume.
Fink, a resident of Brookline, Mass., is director of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Massachusetts and American Cancer Society Professor of Genetics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research has been used to produce a widely used Hepatitis-B vaccine.
Lovejoy, who resides in McLean, Va., is also a pioneer in science. He is the chief biodiversity advisor, as well as lead specialist for the environment, for the Latin American region at the World Bank. From 1989 to 1992, he served on the President’s Council of Advisors in Science and Technology.
Shen differs from Fink and Lovejoy in that his career is distinguished in the financial world, not the scientific. He retired in 1999 as chairman of the investment bank Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette’s capital markets group, a post which he has held for 15 years.
Fink, Lovejoy and Shen have each served Yale in profound ways. Fink chaired the University Council Committee on Biological Sciences from 1984 to 1995. Lovejoy was a member of the University Council committee that studied the Peabody Museum in the early 1990s. Last year, he was named to the new Leadership Council for the School for Forestry and Environmental Studies, which Beinecke has recently joined. Shen is a member of the University Council and a member of his 35th reunion gift committee.
Beinecke is an expert in environmental science and a graduate of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and her departure signifies a gap in this area of expertise of the Corporation members. Levin said Beinecke’s replacement need not have a similar background.
“[The standing committee] asks what competencies we’re missing on the Corporation,” Levin said. But he added that it is a coincidence that Lovejoy has extensive experience in environmental matters, and his candidacy has nothing to do with the conclusion of Beinecke’s term.
University Secretary Linda Lorimer said though it’s important for trustees to have different areas of expertise, they shouldn’t advocate for certain constituencies.
“There is an effort to have a complement of different professional skills and life experiences, but it’s important to leave your background at the door,” Lorimer said.
The board members themselves choose 10 of the trustees, called successor trustees, for up to two six-year terms. The remaining six positions are for alumni trustees, board members elected by University alumni for six-year terms. Beinecke is completing her sixth year of service this year.
Kenneth Davis ’69 said he has voted every year in the alumni trustee election.
“I’m pleased to vote,” Davis said. “I think it reflects the continuity that is part of Yale and that alumni have a continuing stake in the health of the University.”