A first look at next year’s operating budget, approval of various campus construction plans and presentations on programs at the Yale Law School and in engineering departments topped the Yale Corporation’s agenda at its meeting last weekend, Yale officials said.

The University’s highest decision making body approved a balanced budget for the 2005-2006 year, after the University slashed the deficit by about $15 million in each of the past two years. The Corporation also signed off on several construction projects around campus, primarily the renovations to the Yale Bowl and Trumbull College next year. Yale President Richard Levin said the Corporation also heard an initial report on initiatives to foster greater diversity among the University’s staff, but those proposals are not yet completely underway.

Levin said the budget cuts this year came from cost savings and renovations, as opposed to the staff layoffs that the University made last year to tighten its budget. According to next year’s budget, Yale will save at least $6 million by reorganizing maintenance operations and changing the way it purchases raw construction materials, he said. The University also saved about $6 million from its budget next year by covering capital maintenance projects from the University’s endowment, as opposed to the yearly operating budget, Levin said.

“It took a lot of hard work on the part of the provost, [Vice President for Finance and Administration] John Pepper, and [Executive Director of Procurement] John Mayes,” Levin said.

The budget will be officially approved by the Corporation in June.

“The budget is on course and we do expect to present a balanced budget for ’06 to the Corporation for final approval in June,” University Provost Andrew Hamilton said.

As it does at most meetings, the Corporation also approved several construction projects, Levin said. Corporation fellows gave the nod to a project to renovate the interior and exterior of the Yale Bowl over the next two years. Renovations to Davenport College will wrap up on schedule this summer, and renovations to Trumbull College will begin after Commencement, even though the college still does not have a principal donor, he said.

The Corporation’s educational policy committee heard a presentation by Faculty of Engineering Dean Paul Fleury on the progress of Yale’s engineering program. Fleury, who had last spoken to Corporation members two years ago, said since that time, engineering departments had grown by 20 faculty members, and biomedical engineering is now the most popular undergraduate engineering major.

“I came away feeling quite positive from their reaction to what they heard and the support, which they implied by their questions and comments,” Fleury said.

Yale Law School Dean Harold Hongju Koh spoke to Corporation members about his school’s financial outlook and his plans to rejuvenate and internationalize a faculty that is currently comprised mostly of professors with Yale degrees, Levin said.

“It will involve more faculty hiring and greater support for a number of programs,” he said.

Corporation fellows also met new Vice President for Development Inge Reichenbach on Thursday afternoon and, along with Levin, introduced her to her new staff in Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall, in a meeting that was marked by striking members of the Graduate Employees and Students Organization protesting outside.