Interim Vice President for Finance and Administration Bruce Alexander ’65 will continue to oversee Yale’s facilities and construction operations even after a permanent replacement for the position is named within the next few months, University officials said.
Yale President Richard Levin announced Monday that Alexander, who also serves as vice president and director for New Haven and state affairs, will retain some of his current extra responsibilities so as to take advantage of his background in real-estate development and to lighten his successor’s workload.
Alexander has been juggling two of the University’s top seven officer positions since Jan. 1, when former Vice President for Finance and Administration John Pepper ’60 left some of Yale’s most important initiatives, including best practices and business system improvements, in his care.
Alexander’s responsibilities had already increased a few weeks before, when the city chose him to help mediate a dispute over Yale-New Haven Hospital’s cancer center proposal. Alexander has been holding closed meetings with hospital officials and leaders of the Service Employees International Union, which is advocating unionization of the hospital’s employees and has raised concerns about the cancer center development’s potential impact on the community.
Levin said Alexander is well acquainted with all of the areas currently covered by the Office of Finance and Administration, especially matters relating to infrastructure. Alexander previously served as a senior executive at a major real-estate development firm, where he directed major projects that included Manhattan’s South Street Seaport.
“He has particular expertise in the area of facilities because he spent his career as a real-estate developer,” Levin said. “He’s very familiar with all of the issues involving the construction, renovation and maintenance of our facilities.”
Since Alexander presently holds the Finance and Administration position, the change will not have any practical impact until a few months from now, when Levin appoints a replacement. The shift will help narrow his successor’s huge range of responsibilities, Alexander said, which will encompass finance, auditing, procurement, student services, information technology and labor relations. These slightly more limited demands will also help broaden the pool of candidates for the permanent position, he said.
“By taking on these additional responsibilities, we’ll also allow the University to find the person who is highly skilled at the finance and administrative job but who may not have deep facilities, construction or management experience,” Alexander said.
Although the employees at both of his offices are assuming a greater share of the leadership, Alexander said his dual position is still proving to be a challenge.
“To put it in terms I recall from my undergraduate days, managing two vice presidencies at the University is a lot like having final exams every week,” he said.
Local 35 President Bob Proto, who represents facilities workers at Yale, said he hopes his increased contact with Alexander will lead to a better relationship between the University and its staff.
“I’m looking forward to working with him even more closely than we’ve worked with each other in the past,” Proto said. “I’m looking forward to moving into another phase … where Bruce and I can expand on improvements in how the workforce is dealt with and how the community is dealt with.”
Alexander’s role in labor issues was highlighted in the last few weeks by his service as a mediator between Yale-New Haven Hospital and the Service Employees International Union, which are locked in a disagreement over the proposed $430 million cancer center, Ward 5 Alderman Jorge Perez said. The complex would be the largest development project in the history of New Haven, but disputes about employee unionization and the hospital’s impact on the environment have stalled its progress.
Perez said both parties agreed that Alexander could help bring them together.
“He’s done a great job in his current position building bridges in the community,” Perez said. “The University and labor has been better than it has in a while.”
In his State of the City address last week, Mayor John DeStefano Jr. emphasized the need to resolve the cancer center dispute quickly.