The Yale Corporation’s first meeting of this academic year, held from last Wednesday to Friday in New Haven, yielded more substantial policy decisions than have past annual retreats.
During the meeting, the University’s highest decision-making body approved a much-debated amendment to Yale’s official nondiscrimination policy, deliberated on the question of early admissions, and discussed the state of several ongoing and future campus construction projects.
The Corporation expanded University policy on equal opportunity in employment and admissions to include “gender identity or expression,” Yale President Richard Levin said. Prior to the amendment, the policy protected against discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, race, color, religion, age, disability, status as a disabled veteran or veteran of the Vietnam War, and national or ethnic origin.
The decision to change the policy comes after substantial campus debate. In April, the Yale College Council approved a resolution calling on the administration to add gender identity to the University’s official nondiscrimination policy, following similar efforts by the Queer Political Action Committee.
QPAC member Andrew Kohler ’07 said he counts the amendment as a victory. QPAC conducted a signature drive in April to promote the policy addition and collected more than 1,000 signatures, Kohler said.
“We are very pleased that the Yale Corporation has made this change, and we hope that it will be the start of making Yale University overall more welcoming of and accommodating to transgender individuals,” he said.
Also during the meeting, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeff Brenzel made a presentation to the fellows on Yale College admissions policies. Brenzel had been planning the presentation since this summer, but discussion included Harvard and Princeton universities’ announcements that they would eliminate their early admissions programs beginning with the Class of 2012, Levin said.
In light of those decisions, the officers and Corporation fellows are “inclined not to change our admissions program this year, but that’s not a final decision,” Levin said. There was consensus on the board, he said, that greater emphasis needs to be placed on attracting talented students in the sciences and engineering and to consider expanding the staff dedicated to recruiting in that area.
Brenzel said his office is also continuing deliberations on the early admissions question.
“We are not moving to make a change in our early admission policy for right now, but we have still not made a final decision for next year,” Brenzel said in an e-mail. “We want to continue consulting with many different stakeholders, and we want to focus on thinking through the impact of a change for a broad range of applicants.”
The Corporation’s Buildings and Grounds Committee approved funding for advance purchasing of supplies for the renovation of Jonathan Edwards College, which is set to begin next May. The Greenberg International Conference Center, which will be built with funding from the $50 million donation from Maurice Greenberg announced last Thursday, will be located near Betts House, Levin said.
The committee also saw presentations on a future renovation of Sterling Chemistry Lab and Kline Biology Tower, which will not begin for several years, Levin said. The architects presented on the Kahn building of the Yale University Art Gallery, which is in its final stages. The discussion centered on the renovation of the remainder of the building and Street Hall, which Levin said will ultimately be connected.
The annual retreat meeting is more typically taken as an opportunity to discuss long-term University strategies, rather than to make specific policy changes. The Corporation has travelled in recent years to Stanford University, the University of Virginia and Cambridge University.