This story has been updated to reflect the version that ran in print on Jan. 19.
Yale computer science professor David Gelernter ’76 is being considered for the job of science advisor in the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.
Press secretary Sean Spicer told the Post that Gelernter met with the president-elect at Trump Tower in New York City on Tuesday. Gelernter missed the course he was scheduled to teach that day, “The User Interface.”
“This class was supposed to be [on Monday and Wednesday] but got changed — I just found out,” he wrote in an email later that day to students who signed up for the course on Classes*v2. “First class will be [Thursday] at the listed time.”
According to the Post, Gelernter — who caught the attention of students and faculty when he appeared on Fox News in October to express his support for Trump — is a leading expert in the field of parallel computation, a type of computing in which multiple processes are executed at the same time. He is also the author of several books, including “America-Lite: How Imperial Academia Dismantled Our Culture (and Ushered in the Obamacrats),” which argues that top universities are to blame for the erosion of traditional American values.
Gelernter declined to comment Wednesday night.
Yalies were given a taste of Gelernter’s political views in a segment of Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” last fall in which he called the University “an intellectual ghetto,” citing the overwhelming support for Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 on campus. On the show, Gelernter expressed disgust at Trump’s treatment of women, but added, “We need somebody who is not scared to make big changes.”
Historically, the White House science advisor has provided input to the president on issues related to science and technology. The current science advisor is John Holdren, a former Harvard professor who was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009.
Karl Notturno ’17, an outspoken Trump supporter, said that although he does not know Gelernter personally, he has faith that the professor’s Yale pedigree would make him a good candidate for the science advisor position.
And, he added, his appointment would add to a growing list of political outsiders drawn to public service by the Trump administration.
“You’re seeing people being considered that are, in many cases, outside of the mold completely, and aren’t the type of people who you expect to be in politics,” Notturno said.
During his undergraduate years in the 1970s, Gelernter was a member of the Tory Party in the Yale Political Union. Declan Kunkel ’19, chairman of the Tory Party, said Gelernter’s comments on “The O’Reilly Factor” highlighted a long-standing problem with the political climate at Yale.
“He’s talking about the idea that you can’t have a balanced education … with political one-sidedness,” Kunkel said. “I can count on one hand the number of Trump supporters I know who are confident being public Trump supporters.”
Trump’s inauguration will take place Friday in Washington, D.C.