Nine months ago, most undergraduates’ knowledge of the Yale Corporation was limited to a hazy image of 16 trustees who sit behind the president at Commencement and descend on campus a few times to give speeches and Master’s Teas. Now the unorthodox petition candidacy of the Rev. W. David Lee DIV ’93 and the unprecedented campaign he has mounted — not to mention the equally unprecedented counter-campaign some alumni are waging — have vaulted the University’s highest policy-making body into the national spotlight.
The ongoing saga surrounding Lee and Maya Lin ’81 ARC ’86, Lee’s opponent in the Corporation election, certainly makes for good drama. But this weekend, the Corporation members will meet to go about their usual, slightly less exciting, business of charting the future course of the University. They should make sure to discuss the following three areas:
At this fall’s tercentennial celebration, Yale President Richard Levin wisely committed the University to its first review of the undergraduate curriculum in over three decades.
The Corporation should take advantage of the diverse backgrounds and vast experience of its membersto formulate recommendations for Dean Richard Brodhead’s committee on a wide variety of issues, including the undergraduate advising system, the value of sections, and opportunities for student study and work abroad. Specifically, the Corporation should commit the University to an increase in faculty hiring, with the well-defined goal of improving undergraduate teaching and achieving the Corporation’s previously stated goal of making Yale the best undergraduate college in the country.
Even if it stops short of compelling Yale to take unilateral action, the Corporation should address Levin’s bold statement last December that it would be a “good thing” if elite colleges abandoned early decision admission. The early admission program started out a well-intentioned idea, but it has spiraled out of control in an age of increasingly competitive admissions and strategically minded high school counselors. Not only does early decision apply pressure on high school students sooner than ever before, but the program patently discriminates against students who must wait to compare financial aid offers from other schools. The Corporation should endorse Levin’s plan to end early decision and encourage other Ivy League administrations to do the same.
With regard to Yale’s ongoing labor negotiations, the Corporation should applaud Levin’s willingness to strike a compromise in this week’s major Local 35 job security agreement. With these negotiations going more smoothly than any bargaining sessions in recent memory, the Corporation should openly express a desire for the University to have its labor contracts renewed by the time trustees return for Commencement.