The Yale Corporation last weekend looked to the future, trying to anticipate just how far-reaching the effects of the current economic recession will be.
In its fourth and penultimate meeting of the academic year, the University’s highest governing body had a “fairly routine” gathering, University President Richard Levin said in an interview Monday. But as routine as the schedule may have been, Levin added, the substance was anything but.
For instance, the 16 fellows of the Corporation heard a report about the University’s financial health and measures that have already been taken to cut Yale’s budget. Then they saw even more startling figures when they considered scenarios in which the University’s endowment might fall another 10 or 15 percent, Levin said.
“It’s good planning to think about what we would do under those circumstances,” Levin said. “We want to know how we might react if things were to get worse.”
Reacting to slow fundraising results so far this year, the Corporation approved a new fundraising strategy for the University that will focus on soliciting gifts for scholarships and professorships rather than for construction projects.
While Levin said the Buildings and Grounds Committee of the Corporation had “little action compared to the past,” the group met to discuss potential timelines for the construction of Yale’s two new residential colleges.
The University is now evaluating plans based on one-, two- and three-year delays to the project, which will now definitely not open, as scheduled, in the fall of 2013.
“At some point we have to decide what track we’re on because it has implications for other preparatory projects,” Levin said, alluding to demolition and site-clearing work that will need to be undertaken before construction on the colleges themselves can begin.
Vice President and Secretary Linda Lorimer presented a report on the University’s digitization efforts to the fellows, though Levin said new and ambitious projects to make Yale’s resources available online may need to be slowed because of the economic downturn.
In less somber news, Yale College Dean Mary Miller presented a report on the implementation of the 2003 Committee on Yale College Education recommendations to the Corporation, emphasizing the new distributional requirements and advising procedures that came out of that report. Miller also discussed Yale’s new tenure and appointments process, instituted in 2007, with the fellows.
The final meeting of the year for the Corporation will take place in June. At that meeting, the fellows will approve a budget for the 2009-’10 school year.