Aydin Akyol

The Yale Corporation last month paired trustees with the Dean of Yale College and the deans of each of Yale’s graduate and professional schools to facilitate communication between the University’s governing body and its academic leaders.

The program, modeled after a similar initiative at Harvard, seeks to educate trustees about the University’s academic units and familiarize deans with the Corporation. Each year, trustees will rotate to a different school so that Corporation members become familiar with six different deans and schools over the course of their six-year terms.

“It’s really a two-way street,” said Senior Fellow Donna Dubinsky ’77, who was paired with Dean of the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies Indy Burke. “It’s about a board member learning more about a school and a dean learning more about what the board member’s thinking about what the University should do.”

Burke, who became dean last October, said that before the initiative was introduced, she had no formal engagement with members of the Corporation other than at an introductory dinner at University President Peter Salovey’s house.

Burke said she met with Dubinsky for lunch last week and discussed the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies’ dual-degree programs, as well as issues relating to faculty recruitment, promotion and retention.

“The Corporation sees the University from 30,000 feet,” Burke said. “I just think it’s important for them to have a sense of what really happens at the ground level.”

According to Acting Dean of the Yale School of Management Anjani Jain, Corporation members, such as PepsiCo Inc. CEO Indra Nooyi ’80, have long served on the business school’s governing body. The trustees’ involvement in the governance of SOM represents an ongoing effort to embed the school in Yale’s institutional framework, Jain said.

Jain added that he plans to discuss the school’s finances and strategic plan with Douglas Warner ’68, the school’s assigned trustee and the former chair of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

“The trustees are ultimately the governing bodies of the University and in some ways the board of advisors of the respective schools are acting on behalf of trustees,” Jain said. “Ultimately, the governance of the institution is the trustees’ responsibility and major decisions such as the creation of new degrees are commitments of financial resources that have always required trustee approval.”

For instance, Jain added, the School of Management needed approval from the Corporation’s Education Policy Committee before it launched its Master of Management Studies degree program this fall.

As the Corporation gathered on campus for their October meeting last Saturday, several of the trustees introduced themselves to their paired deans. But due to scheduling conflicts, some introductory meetings will take place later on in the academic year, said University spokesman Tom Conroy.

Organized through the Office of the University Secretary, many of the initial pairings were based on overlap between trustees’ backgrounds and the schools with which they were matched.

Trustee Paul Joskow GRD ’72, an MIT professor of economics and the president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, was paired with School of Music Dean Robert Blocker. In an email to the News, Joskow, who sits on the Board of Overseers of the Boston Symphony, said he knows many musicians whom he could ask for advice.

But Dubinsky said she hopes future dean-trustee pairings will introduce Corporation members to new fields. For instance, a trustee with a background in business might be matched with the Dean of the School of Art, she said.

The trustee pairing program was announced in March, along with other transparency and accessibility initiatives designed to offer faculty, students and staff greater voice in administrative decisions and to inform them about the functions of the Yale Corporation.

Hailey Fuchs | hailey.fuchs@yale.edu