Yale College is in flux.
Last year the News editorialized on University President Peter Salovey’s transition from Warner House to Woodbridge Hall. This will be the first full year under Salovey’s leadership. As such, it may be the most formative in shaping the trajectory of his tenure.
While the President oversees the University at large, no one will have a greater impact on the College’s day-to-day operations than its new dean, Jonathan Holloway.
Fresh in our roles at the helm of the News, we are keenly aware of the changes around us. As we encourage our reporters to search for change — to find the aberration from the norm — we believe we have a role to play in shaping conversation about the transitions afoot in the College.
In the midst of the search for then-Dean Mary Miller’s replacement this spring, debate raged over the role of students in the decision-making process. It is true that students lack institutional memory. We depart after only four years. The most important administrative decisions are often incremental; their consequences will likely only be felt years after we have graduated.
Still, we believe student input is particularly useful for a dean who was not a Yale undergraduate. While we are optimistic that Holloway’s experiences and qualifications position him for success, no dean — even one who has served as a master of a residential college for eight years — can understand the immediate concerns and values of the student body better than those currently studying at the College.
We therefore have an obligation to share with Holloway our sense of the College’s future. This editorial inaugurates a series that will articulate our hopes for what Holloway can accomplish.
Indeed, Holloway faces a host of challenges. The University still struggles to diversify its student body and mitigate the role socioeconomic class plays in college life. Work remains in fostering a positive sexual culture, one where students do not fear assault and harassment.
We hear from students whose concerns with mental health policies have yet to be assuaged. Athletic recruitment and integration of athletes into the College are open questions. And Yale must decide how to balance fiscal conservatism with the goal of expanding the STEM community.
This list is by no means comprehensive. But these problems will only grow when the two new residential colleges open in 2017 — the first such expansion of the College in five decades.
Holloway’s central challenge will be to preserve the intimacy yet intellectual dynamism characteristic of a Yale education at a time when our resources will be stretched thin.
As we tackle these broad issues in editorials, we ask you, our readers, to join us in this enterprise. Participate in the conversation about the current state of the College and where it ought to go. Whether in the dining halls or the locker rooms before practice, ask your friends: What sort of college do you envision?
Too often we accept as foregone conclusions the vision the University’s leaders set for our school. Institutional change of this scale invites an opportunity for communal introspection and scrutiny. Whether or not we agree with the course the College is on, there is room for debate — for questions and alternative ideas.