Jack Callahan Jr. ’80 has begun his tenure as senior vice president for operations, a new position meant to aid in Yale’s efforts to most effectively oversee and build upon its resources.
In June, Salovey announced that Callahan — at the time chief financial officer of S&P Global — would assume the position in August. Over the past nine months, Salovey has created two new vice-presidential positions: one for operations, and another for communications. Salovey told the News that Callahan is positioned to work across areas of the University from information technology services to research administration. Callahan said his role includes four broad areas of responsibility: finance and audit; operations and administration; information technology; and strategy.
“Since I became president I have considered what expertise we could bring to the leadership of the University. When [Vice President for Finance and Business Operations] Shauna King left Yale, I decided to begin bringing the business side of the University under a single senior leader,” University President Peter Salovey said.
Callahan added that in formulating the operational direction of the University, he will work closely with Salovey and Provost Benjamin Polak.
Both Callahan and Senior Advisor to the President Martha Highsmith said Callahan’s portfolio will evolve over time. Callahan explained that as he becomes more knowledgeable about the University, he expects to find additional ways to contribute to its governance. When asked about last year’s racially charged controversies on campus, Callahan said he has a role to play in fostering a more inclusive campus.
“I am going to make a contribution to diversity and inclusion based on the seat I’m sitting in,” he said. “I should be building a more diverse workforce, making sure it’s a highly inclusive organization that we operate in and ensuring that we respect and include all people.”
While searching for a senior vice president for operations, Highsmith explained last year that the need for such a position reflected the increasing complexity of the University. By having someone manage its resources — including University staff — Highsmith said Yale could save costs and invest more in teaching and learning.
John Wilkinson ’60 GRD ’63, who served as University secretary in the 1980s, said Yale used to have a similar officer who he found made the University run more efficiently.
Still, Wilkinson said creating any new administrative position presents risks.
“My only reservation always is that the more vice presidents you have, the more work they create for one another,” Wilkinson said. “That sounds rather cynical. It’s a question of how many people actually report to the president. The University has grown so much, and the structure is not nearly as important as the people, how good they are and how much authority they have.”
Yale currently has nine vice presidents.
But Highsmith emphasized that the University’s leadership team remains small.
“Yale, for an institution of its size and complexity, has traditionally had a small administrative structure,” Highsmith said. For those students and faculty outside of that structure it might feel like a huge bureaucracy, but it’s not. The senior leadership team is small. The president is trying to is align that organization so that it can better support the needs of faculty and students.”
Callahan was raised in New Haven.