The Yale Corporation’s February meeting has ended, but the fates of Calhoun College and the title “master,” as well as the names of the two new residential colleges, remain unclear. Still, University President Peter Salovey said he expects all three decisions to be announced by the end of the academic year.
This weekend, the Yale Corporation gathered in Woodbridge Hall for the first of its five annual meetings. Although the body’s agenda is officially confidential, several sources confirmed that part of its slate included the three hot-button naming issues over which the body has jurisdiction and that were a focus of student demands last fall. Prior to the meeting, Salovey said he was planning “substantial conversations” with the Corporation concerning these three subjects, adding that they are areas “everyone would like to get settled.” But due to formal technicalities, as well as the hope that the Corporation will reach a consensus across various meetings, Salovey told the News Sunday that all three remain unresolved.
“The fellows of the Corporation did devote part of the meeting to a discussion of residential college naming issues and the ‘master’ title,” he said. “Because some of these decisions could lead to voted changes to the by-laws, there is a requirement that they be discussed across at least two meetings, and so final decisions cannot not be made until the conversation can be resumed at one or more future meetings.”
Senior Advisor to the President Martha Highsmith also said that even if the Corporation wanted to change the title of “master” during its meeting, for example, it would be unable to do so because a change in University by-laws requires at least two meetings.
Following the meeting, Donna Dubinsky ’77, a successor fellow on the Corporation, said she felt the Corporation had engaged in substantive conversations during which a wide range of views was expressed. She added that while no decision was reached on the three issues, input from students, faculty, staff and alumni raised over the course of the conversation put the opinions of the Yale community on the board’s mind.
Salovey said the Corporation’s goal is still to make these three decisions by the end of the current academic year.
Dubinsky told the News on Thursday that the body knows it “has to get on with” these decisions and that she would like them to be announced all at once.
“We need to decide them together; they’re intertwined decisions,” she said.
Still, Salovey said the Corporation has not yet formally decided how the decisions will be announced.
Thirteen of 16 students surveyed for this article said the Corporation should have settled at least one of the three decisions by now.
“I’m not really surprised given their record of conservatism,” Vance Dekker-Vargas ’17 said. “It seems like they don’t get much done quickly or in line with student interests.”
Manasi Patwa ’19 said that while it is understandable for the Corporation to take its time in making decisions that will establish new precedents for the first time, the student body at large has clearly conveyed that its preference is for the name of Calhoun College to be changed.
Vice President for Communications Eileen O’Connor declined to comment on the agenda or conversations of the Corporation because of their confidential nature.
On Thursday, Alumni Fellow on the Corporation Eve Rice ’73 said the Corporation is aware that these three decisions are unusual for a number of reasons, including their long-term implications and the fact that the name of a residential college has never been changed before. She said it is therefore important for the body to take its time and be thoughtful.
“I came out with a different understanding with the listening sessions, and I expect to come out of the Corporation session with a somewhat different take,” she said. “My sense is no one is posturing, no one is commanding air space, people really want to understand the reasons behind things and what makes sense going forward and what is going to be best for the University. They are really trying to do the best by Yale.”
Prior to the meeting, Dubinsky said she did not expect decisions to be reached on the three issues, as there would inevitably be differences in opinion — as there are in the larger Yale community.
She added that she, too, remains open to changing her perspective.
“In terms of my particular viewpoint, I have a bunch of different ways I could go,” she said. “I am very interested in hearing input from my colleagues because I always find it illuminating. I am not walking in with a do-or-die point of view. I am walking in with some presumptions of where I stand but am open to hearing the dialogue.”
Salovey said in terms of timeline, Corporation members often request follow-up conversations on contentious issues because they like “to take their time making a decision” when those decisions have long-term implications.