When Yale’s two new residential colleges open their doors in 2017, students — both graduate and undergraduate — and faculty alike will see substantive change. But in planning for the new colleges, administrators are first examining how the expansion will affect each of these groups separately.
Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway, Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Tamar Gendler and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean Lynn Cooley are each leading separate research groups to analyze how the eventual 15 percent increase in the undergraduate population will impact the experiences of their respective constituent bodies: undergraduates, faculty and graduate students. While they do not plan to combine these committees’ individual findings into a unified report, the three deans said it makes sense to more informally collaborate on an issue that poses a significant logistical and even cultural challenge to the administration and the University.
“We meet regularly to discuss how we are approaching the new college expansion,” Holloway said. “But there is no need to combine our individual research into one document or report.”
Holloway currently chairs two advisory groups on the new colleges, which both focus on expanding the hallmarks of Yale’s undergraduate experience to 800 new students. Holloway’s steering committee includes four undergraduate students, four staff members, four recent alumni and four faculty members, while the working group consists of six staff members. Holloway said the working group has focused more on statistical research for the budget of the new colleges, including costs ranging from dining hall services to intramural sports. The budget has been submitted to the Provost’s Office for approval. The steering committee, by contrast, tackles more conceptual issues about the culture of the new residential colleges.
“We are now looking at the amorphous elements of the new colleges,” Holloway said. “We are thinking carefully about what are the core, essential things that define a Yale residential college community.”
In order to identify the features that distinguish a residential college community, Holloway has tasked members of the steering committee with reaching out to several campus groups, including the Yale College Council. The steering committee will also serve as the search committee for the masters of the new colleges, and members will advise the new masters on their search for the new residential college deans.
Gendler’s office, by contrast, is focusing on how the increase in students will affect faculty hiring and the availability of classes, rather than on campus culture.
“We are conducting an exercise where we looked at the enrollment patterns of the last five years and made sure we understood how many freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors were enrolled in each course,” she said. “Then we engage in straightforward modeling to see what additional classes and what additional spaces are needed.”
Based on her office’s research, Gendler said that the most significant change will be an increase in multi-section courses, such as introductory language and English courses, as these are the courses in highest demand from freshmen. These courses are typically taught by non-ladder faculty members, such as lecturers and lectors, and additional staff will be hired in these areas of expertise to adjust to the increase in undergraduate population.
Despite the largely quantitative focus, Gendler’s office is soliciting qualitative input as well. Gendler said she is also meeting with faculty members in several departments, and she plans to supplement the numerical analysis with faculty opinions.
Cooley’s office, meanwhile, is analyzing how teaching fellow assignment will change with the influx of students — an especially important task, as large lectures with discussion sections are likely to increase in size in the long term, according to Gendler’s research. Cooley told the News in mid-October that her office is doing a historical analysis of undergraduate enrollments in lab and discussion sections to see which sections most often fill up and how to adjust the teaching fellowship assignments accordingly. She added that increasing the size of the graduate student body is not an option.
Even beyond administrative outreach, though, the faculty has taken its own steps to increase its voice in this discussion. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences Senate, a group that represents the interests of non-administrative FAS faculty, created a Committee on the Yale College Expansion to conduct independent research about the new colleges, and the Senate also recently sent out a survey to FAS faculty members asking them to describe their biggest concerns about the expansion, such as shopping period logistics, faculty support services and the availability of properly trained teaching fellows. Over 250 faculty members have responded to the survey. There were 1,145 FAS faculty members in the 2014–15 academic year. Gendler said she is “incredibly interested” in the survey results and in hearing the concerns of faculty members.
History professor Beverly Gage ’94, chair of the FAS Senate and the Committee on the Yale College Expansion, said the Senate hopes to add big-picture faculty opinions and concerns to the discussion.
“We want to be a good point of communication between the faculty and administrators,” she said. “A lot of faculty members don’t really know what is going on in terms of administrative planning.”