As the former secretary of the University and adviser to five Yale presidents, I worked closely with the trustees of the Yale Corporation as we confronted the significant and complex challenges of running an institution comprising so many diverse constituencies. I also opened Yale’s first community relations office in 1972 and lived in New Haven for nearly 50 years. Through these experiences, I developed a strong conviction about the role of the trustees in setting the University’s course for the future. And I am highly sensitive to the complicated relationship between Yale and New Haven.
Particularly today, in these increasingly challenging times, Yale needs trustees whose impartiality, objectivity and commitment to the long-term good of the University as a whole are unimpeachable. Even the appearance of partiality will seriously undermine the legitimacy of the Corporation’s decision-making process. All of Yale’s constituencies need to know that their interests have been considered fairly, thoughtfully, and with complete independence.
I was therefore pleased to learn that the nominating committee composed primarily of alumni volunteers that present candidates for the Corporation, has chosen Maya Lin ’81 ARC ’86 as its nominee.
Lin represents everything a candidate should be. She is a leader in her field and would command respect as a trustee. She is thoughtful. Her work demonstrates an exceptional depth of understanding about the important issues of our time and enormous sensitivity to difficult and complicated problems. Her magnificent Vietnam Memorial is a testament to her ability to reconcile through her art the many perspectives on one of the most divisive issues of our time. Above all, she is independent and stands for election as a principled Yale graduate who will, in facing complex decisions, do what is right for all of Yale.
I know the Rev. W. David Lee DIV ’93, the candidate nominated by petition, only through his campaign, including a series of e-mails and brochures. However, in reviewing Lee’s campaign materials and doing some additional research, I learned about two things his campaign has done that concern me. First, he has accepted money from Yale’s two labor unions to finance his campaign. I believe that a trustee who is beholden to a special interest cannot, by definition, represent the best interests of the University as a whole. Second, he has not disclosed this fact in his mailings and e-mails to graduates.
Whatever your view of labor relations at Yale, I believe Lee has an obligation to disclose his affiliation so voters can make a fully informed decision about his candidacy and qualifications to serve as a trustee.
Trusteeship at Yale requires working hard to face all of the University’s complex problems and making the courageous, independent judgments necessary to assure that Yale is as great as it is today for many years into the future. With all of the qualities necessary to serve successfully as an independent trustee who puts the interests of the entire University first, Lin has my vote.
Henry Chauncey Jr. ’57 is a former secretary of the University.