University President Peter Salovey outlined a set of broad academic priorities for Yale last fall, calling for enhanced offerings in the sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities, as well as a renewed commitment to faculty excellence.
Now comes the hard part. As the University approaches its first capital campaign since the presidency of Richard Levin, faculty members and administrators across campus are working to turn Salovey’s broad mission statements into specific, achievable academic objectives that the University can pitch to donors as part of a concrete vision for Yale’s future. Some of those initiatives have progressed further than others: While Yale’s science planning committee is scheduled to complete a report at the end of the academic year, the University remains in the process of rolling out a similar task force for the humanities.
“This year, we will continue to refine the academic priorities and begin to map those priorities onto a better understanding of the resources that we will need,” Salovey said last week. “We are not in a campaign, but we recognize that to successfully implement our academic priorities, we are going to need to raise money.”
The academic planning process began in earnest in January with the establishment of the University Science Strategy Committee to formulate specific objectives and suggest structural changes to develop STEM at Yale.
By the end of the academic year, the 14-person committee — chaired by Scott Strobel, the deputy provost for teaching and learning and the vice president of West Campus planning and program development — will produce a five- to 10-year academic plan listing those specific objectives and resources required to achieve them, Strobel told the News this week. A combination of professional school deans, department chairs and University administrators will oversee the long-term implementation of the report.
“Sometimes we’re not as strong in an area as we should because we haven’t recognized the synergy that exists across school boundaries,” Strobel said. “We might not be structured in a way to maximize the impact in an investment that we are making in the sciences just because it’s made across multiple schools.”
Strobel said his committee’s project represents a full evaluation of “what science is at Yale,” at a time of leadership transitions in the field. Over the past year, Yale has appointed a new dean of the School of Public Health and an inaugural deputy provost for research.
Yale has also hired new personnel in the social sciences, another area in which the University hopes to develop strong academic objectives over the next year.
So far this year, 17 tenured or tenure-track faculty members specializing in the social sciences have joined the University. And departments are “keeping [Salovey’s vision] in mind” as they conduct those job searches, said Alan Gerber ’86, Yale’s director of social sciences.
“One of his particular priorities was the application of empirical social science to public policy problems and questions to the issues of today,” Gerber said. “I see that emerging from the kinds of searches that the departments are engaging in.”
For example, he said, the Economics Department has expressed interest in hiring faculty members to study the application of empirical science to policy, specifically in developmental and health care economics.
Meanwhile, the academic planning in the arts has centered on integrating the offerings at Yale College with the University’s art schools.
Faculty members seldom taught at both the School of Drama and Yale College until Salovey moved to integrate the two programs, said Daniel Harrison MUS ’86. In the past, there was little communication between the two institutions, and any joint hire would require “some very complex arrangement,” he added.
But this year, the drama school recruited Gregory Wallace DRA ’87, an experienced acting professor who requested to teach an undergraduate course this semester on the 19th-century Russian playwright Anton Chekhov.
Still, Harrison said, fully integrating the arts programs at Yale College and the professional schools may require a broader cultural shift.
“There’s kind of a gap between curricular planning that Yale College would like to do and the faculty and student culture in a different professional school,” he said.
The academic planning in the humanities is at an earlier stage. This fall, the University will establish a committee to formulate long-term priorities, Dean of the Humanities Amy Hungerford said.
Yale is currently recruiting senior faculty members in History, History of Art, Religious Studies and various other departments, all of which experienced hiring freezes after the 2008 financial crisis. But in the past three years, the University has made a concerted effort to rebuild the programs that saw departures during that period, Hungerford said.
Yale’s last capital campaign concluded in June 2011 after raising $3.881 billion.
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