The Faculty of Arts and Sciences is rolling out a five-year program called “Scholars as Leaders; Scholars as Learners,” or “SAL2,” which will offer a suite of opportunities to faculty, which intend to stimulate their growth as scholars, teachers and university citizens, according to an email from Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Tamar Gendler to department chairs on Monday.
“Of the things that have come about during my deanship, this is one of the ones about which I am most excited,” Gendler said in an interview with the News. “I think it’s unique among universities to have a program like this in place and for Yale to set an example in this way is spectacularly exciting for me.”
The initiative establishes a new program allowing faculty to take a semester off from teaching to take classes, short-term courses held each May for faculty members taught by other faculty members and travel opportunities for faculty members interested in emulating programs at other institutions. It also introduces a leadership training program, a personal coaching program and an annual “Yes” fund to support between five and 10 additional proposals from faculty members, with funding of $5,000 to $10,000 for each proposal.
The new opportunities provided by the SAL2 initiative are open to all members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, with two exceptions: The one-semester teaching release is open only to full professors, full-time, multiyear senior lecturers and senior lectors II in their mid-to-late careers, and the leadership training program is open only to selected tenured faculty who are serving or have served in a departmental or university leadership role.
A gift from an anonymous donor will fund the program and enable the continuation of the Junior Faculty Manuscript Colloquium, which offers every assistant professor up to $3,000 for a pre-tenure colloquium in which they can receive high-level professional feedback on their work. Although Gendler declined to disclose the exact size of the anonymous donation, she said the gift leaves the faculty with hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend each year on the program.
During the 2018–19 academic year, or the inaugural year of the program, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Steering Committee will select faculty for limited-access programs. But as what Gendler calls a “five-year experiment” continues, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office will expand the selection committees to include faculty members with relevant expertise based on the level of interest in specific programs.
According to Gendler, suggestions from a wide range of sources — including from literature about best practices in other organizations, conversations with faculty members and counterpart deans at peer institutions, and coaches who mentor academics — helped shape the specifics of the SAL2 program.
“The donor that I was working with was really excited by and committed to the way in which Yale’s [Faculty of Arts and Sciences] has an extraordinarily talented group of faculty leaders who engage in self-governance at the same time as they engage in research and teaching,” Gendler said. “But the donor felt like we had benefited insufficiently from the ways in which some of the proven techniques in other organizations, both nonprofit and [for-profit] organizations, … had helped people do work that was even more exciting and had helped create climates of cooperation and self-governance.”
Chair of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Senate and American studies professor Matthew Jacobson told the News he “applauded” the SAL2 initiative, adding that the response so far from faculty has been “powerfully positive.” The senate did not have any input in developing this program, but Jacobson said he has no complaints about that process, given that the program was developed based on best practices from around the country.
With the exception of the leadership training program, the new programs within the initiative are open to all or select instructional faculty members, formerly known as “nonladder faculty.” Instructional faculty members — who make up just under 40 percent of Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences — are ineligible for tenure and hired on a contract basis. In response to the senate’s report on nonladder faculty last spring, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office made a series of administrative changes to create a more inclusive environment for faculty off the tenure track at Yale.
Although Jacobson did not know whether the inclusive nature of the SAL2 programs was a “direct outgrowth” of the senate’s report, he said it represented “the kind of inclusion we were advocating for.”
Senior lector in Hebrew Shiri Goren — who co-chairs the senate’s committee on the status, pay and conditions of instructional faculty — wrote in an email to the News that she was “impressed” by the initiative’s thoughtfulness.
“This is a wonderful example for how creative and thoughtful leadership can model inclusivity, and I do think that some of these programs could make a real difference — at the very least for individual faculty — in boosting morale and [alleviating] some of the burnout many of the faculty experience,” Goren said.
Still, Goren said, over the next few years the senate and its committee on instructional faculty will closely examine the roster of the faculty participants in the various programs “to ensure that the inclusivity of instructional faculty does not remain only on paper.”
On a personal level, Goren expressed excitement about the possibility of spending a full semester in the role of student rather than teacher.
“Like many of my instructional faculty colleagues, since coming to Yale, I have taught well over fifty courses,” Goren said. “Every single semester I think how intellectually stimulating it would be to attend Yale courses that I do not teach. Now, finally, I may be able to do just that.”
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