Yale News

Last week Yale administrators held University-wide town halls to solicit faculty feedback on whether to convert the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs into a new professional school. The meetings came two weeks before the Corporation meets on Feb. 9 to discuss the proposal.

At the town halls — which took place last Tuesday and Friday and were off the record — faculty members asked about the recommended size of the new school and how the school will maintain a balance between full-time faculty and visiting fellows, according to Catherine Panter-Brick, an anthropology professor who attended both meetings. Per the minutes of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Senate meeting obtained by the News, FAS senators also discussed the potential conversion of Jackson to a School of Global Affairs last December.

“The committee’s findings were well received at both town halls and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences senate meeting,” Vice President for Global Strategy Pericles Lewis told the News. “There were very few people who were against the report’s recommendations, in the sense that we shouldn’t do this.”

In November, University Provost Ben Polak’s Advisory Committee on the Future of the Jackson Institute published a report recommending the creation of “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 whether to act on the committee’s recommendations after hosting the town hall meetings with faculty members in the spring.

Kaveh Khoshnood, an epidemiology professor who was present at Friday’s meeting, told the News that around 30 faculty members attended the town hall. He added that the town hall featured a brief presentation from the Chair of the Advisory Committee Judy Chevalier, who summarized her committee’s conclusions before opening up the floor for a question and answer session. According to Khoshnood, the questions that faculty raised were “more administrative than existential.”

“Only one person asked what the pros and cons of opening a new school would be,” Khoshnood said. “Mostly, faculty members wanted to hear what the committee had considered as options for Yale to have a robust global affairs academic program.”

According to Lewis, a few professors at the town halls asked whether the Institute should become a department or a program, rather than a school. He added that the most common concern was “about the structure of the appointments.”

Per the committee report released in November, all ladder faculty members at the new school will hold joint appointments at the new school of global affairs and another professional school or the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. According to the minutes of the FAS Senate meeting, history professor Jennifer Klein said she was concerned about faculty with joint appointments being forced to take on the “agenda” of Jackson and leave behind their own departments’ objectives. Economics professor Steve Berry noted that it would take time to build enthusiasm among faculty members about holding appointments at the new school of global affairs, per the FAS Senate meeting minutes.

But in an interview with the News, Lewis said that establishing a new school of global affairs could help supply additional funding for more faculty appointments. The meeting minutes state that during the first few years of fundraising for the new school, the majority of the budget would be dedicated to faculty salaries.

According to Chevalier, several faculty members also voiced concerns that the creation of a new school may draw funding and resources away from existing departments and programs. Per the November report, the Institute’s transformation into a school would be funded primarily through donations amounting to $200 million.

Economics professor John Geanakoplos said in the FAS Senate meeting that the University needs to “beware of new activities that are donor-driven but not fully funded in perpetuity,” the meeting minutes stated. Chevalier responded that limiting Jackson’s size will help balance the resources flowing to the new school and to the rest of the University.

The Jackson Institute was first founded in 2010 after the University secured a $50 million gift from Susan Jackson and John Jackson ’67.

Lorenzo Arvanitis | lorenzo.arvanitis@yale.edu

Serena Cho | serena.cho@yale.edu