At its first meeting of 2018, the Yale Corporation settled down to discuss various aspects of the University’s educational mission — but first, members of the University’s highest governing body split up to attend events at Ingalls Rink, Payne Whitney Gymnasium and the Yale Repertory Theatre.

In a press briefing held two weeks after the meeting, University President Peter Salovey said trustees divided into three groups and got the chance to attend either a hockey game, a basketball game or a show at the Yale Rep.

“We wanted to give Corporation members a feeling for life on campus,” Salovey said. “It was productive and useful to have them sort of do the kind of things members of the campus community would do on a Friday night.”

During the meeting that followed, Salovey said trustees discussed Yale’s educational mission as it pertains to Yale College, as well as the graduate and professional schools, with a specific focus on data science at the University.

Underlying those discussions about Yale’s mission were deeper questions about how and whom the University educates. Salovey said trustees focused on demographic trends among college-age students.

“The number of people in this country [who are college age] is going down, and yet interest in Yale — as evidenced by the number of applicants we receive — is going up,” Salovey said. “That kind of a statistical comparison gives rise to a conversation about what do you think is going on.”

Trustees discussed the factors driving the increase in the number of students interested in going to Yale, as well as whether this number will continue to grow, Salovey said. He added that the Corporation contemplated an optimal rejection rate, considering both the benefits of selectivity and the costs of a higher rejection rate, such as disappointing applicants.

Trustees also discussed the continuing expansion of Yale College — several months after students unpacked their boxes for the first time in the two new residential colleges on Prospect Street — and reaffirmed their support for the growth of the undergraduate student body.

During the meeting, the Corporation also heard presentations from John Lafferty and Dan Spielman, two professors who teach in the Statistics and Data Science Department.

“Because we have data science as an area of focus at Yale — an area of current and future focus at Yale — and because strengthening data science is important for us to accomplish the social science agenda, we introduced the trustees to what data science is all about,” Salovey said

Spielman said his presentation focused on the newly-established Department of Statistics and Data Science and also addressed his research on algorithms. Lafferty, who was Yale’s first hire in the department, discussed machine learning and research vignettes.

The Corporation also discussed the progress on the Yale Science Building, which is currently under construction and is expected to be completed by late 2019. The University hopes the new building will serve as a central hub for the Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology Department, as well as part of the Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry Department, and provide a space for community members to gather. Salovey said the project is on schedule and on budget.

Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun, who is in the middle of his first year as dean, also presented his priorities and plans for Yale College during the meeting.

The Corporation has 17 members and two ex officio members.

Hailey Fuchs |