As the University begins to solicit feedback from students and faculty members on the potential transformation of the Jackson Institute of Global Affairs into a degree-granting school, members of the University cabinet — a key advisory body for University President Peter Salovey — diverged as to whether Yale should convert the institute into a new school of global affairs.
Last month, University Provost Ben Polak’s Advisory Committee on the Future of the Jackson Institute released a report calling for “an intentionally small school [of Global Affairs], with a focused mission and close interaction among faculty, fellows, and students.” In an interview with the News at the time, Polak said the University will decide on whether to follow the committee’s recommendation this academic year after hosting town hall meetings with faculty members next spring.
Salovey installed the University Cabinet — a 28-person body consisting of deans, vice presidents and other senior administrative leaders — at his inauguration in 2013 to assess Yale’s policies and initiatives. Among the 11 members interviewed by the News, several voiced excitement about the prospect of establishing a new school, while others said they were concerned that the new school would channel resources away from Yale’s current professional schools, or that the University would name a professional school after a donor for the first time in Yale’s history.
“I think global affairs is an important agenda for the University,” said Sten Vermund, dean of the School of Public Health and a cabinet member. “But some of us think that maybe [Yale] should mature the schools [it] already [has] and capacitate them rather than creating new schools.”
Vermund added that because the School of Public Health and the School of Engineering and Applied Science are not officially recognized as professional schools by the University, they often lack resources and funding. Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science Mitchell Smooke did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
But in an email to the News, economics professor Judy Chevalier ’89, who chaired the provost’s advisory committee, wrote that the transformation of the Jackson Institute into a school may help other professional schools gain resources. The committee report released last month recommended that Yale appoint ladder faculty members who hold joint appointments at the new school of global affairs and another professional or graduate school. Under the new system, other professional schools will be able to hire faculty members at only half the resource cost, Chevalier explained.
According to Vice President for Development Joan O’Neill, who is also a member of the University Cabinet, there are a number of donors who “would likely be motivated to make a significant gift toward” creating a school of global affairs in the future. But other professional schools will continue to receive funding and donations, O’Neill argued.
“There is no risk to the funding for other professional schools since the funding would all come from gifts, and the large majority of these gifts will likely come from members of the Jackson advisory board,” said Vice President for Global Strategy Pericles Lewis, another member of the University Cabinet.
But the creation of a new school also poses the question of what such an institution would be called — and whether or not it will bear someone’s name. In an interview with the News, Dean of the Divinity School Greg Sterling said that members of the Yale community should carefully discuss the pros and cons of naming a school after a donor.
“Some people want the schools to simply be known as a part of Yale University,” Sterling explained. “This is an issue that should be thought through in a careful way … I’m not enthusiastic about naming schools after donors, but what do we say when they offer to give you 50 million or 250 million? I don’t know.”
According to Lewis, the board of trustees would consider the possibility of naming the new school of global affairs after Susan Jackson and John Jackson ’67, who donated a $50 million gift in 2010. In 2015, Harvard University renamed its school of public health after T.H. Chan when he donated $350 million to the school — the first time Harvard named a professional school after a donor.
Sterling also expressed concerns that the committee recommended that the majority of Jackson’s faculty members hold joint appointments with Faculty of Arts and Sciences departments.
“It doesn’t make sense to me to ignore the presence of other schools at Yale that have very significant contributions globally,” Sterling said. “For example, I think it would be foolish to not have close ties with the law school. I think the committee’s recommendations might be too narrow.”
While Chevalier acknowledged that the majority of the joint appointments at the new school will be with Faculty of Arts and Sciences departments, she added that the committee is also excited about joint programs between the potential school of global affairs and other professional schools.
Other cabinet members interviewed by the News praised the committee’s hard work and said they agreed with its core recommendation.
In an interview with the News, Dean of the Yale School of Management Ted Snyder said establishing a new school is necessary for the University to have a greater impact in global affairs.
“As a renowned international University where teaching and research are inextricably linked, a School of Global Affairs that is located at the intersection of these vital practices will, I believe, bolster Yale’s place at the forefront of educational leadership,” Dean of Yale School of Music Robert Blocker said. “Such a school also offers the potential for developing new joint degrees with other disciplines, such as music.”
According to Polak, if the advisory committee’s recommendation is approved, transforming the Jackson Institute will become a priority for the next capital campaign. The report stated that the new school would require approximately $200 million over the next three to five years.
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