Almost two weeks after the public release of a Faculty of Arts and Sciences Senate report calling for increased resource dedication to the FAS, faculty members echoed the report’s findings, calling for better compensation and an increased number of professors.
The Faculty of Arts and Sciences Senate Research and Scholarly Excellence Report, publicly released as an abbreviated version on Jan. 23, drafted its recommendations based on a faculty questionnaire, public data and interviews with chairs of 12 of the largest FAS departments. The committee released the full report, which contains confidential information such as professors’ assessments of their departments to the faculty at large in December 2018. In interviews with the News, FAS professors from a variety of disciplines — ranging from English to physics — supported the report, its findings and its recommendations. Several professors agreed with the report’s call for increases to FAS salaries, which the Senate notes have dipped relative to peer institutions in the past several years.
According to senior lecturer in English and American Studies James Berger, the report aligns with his belief that Yale College and the Humanities have not received proper resources.
“On the whole, I agree very much with the Report’s analyses, conclusions, and recommendations,” Berger wrote in an email to the News. “There is today so much more competition among a growing number of peer institutions. But if Yale is not willing to pay its faculty competitively, then certainly the best scholars will go where the salaries and working conditions are better.”
The report — released in full to faculty in December of last year — found that many faculty members worry that their respective departments are not among the highest-ranked nationwide. Many faculty added that the University is “too cautious in its spending,” according to the report. The Senate called on the University to dedicate an additional $40 million per year to increase faculty compensation and increase the number of FAS faculty members.
Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Tamar Gendler told the News last month that she and other administrators want the academic departments in the FAS to be “among the strongest in the world in their fields of study.” She added that University President Peter Salovey’s academic priorities reflect the University’s investment in the “arts, humanities, social sciences, and sciences and engineering.”
According to Wai Chee Dimock, professor of English and American Studies, the University’s focus on the sciences — which she says includes “rapid growth of West Campus” coupled with the promise to raise $2 billion in implementing the recommendations of the University Science Strategy Committee — endangers both Yale College and the FAS of becoming “an afterthought rather than a priority.” According to Dimock, West Campus is an important portion of the University’s future, but she added that Yale must ensure that the College and the FAS “will be fully integrated into these exciting initiatives.”
Professors in the sciences agreed with the report’s call for increased “resources and attention” toward the FAS as well.
“The University needs to be less spendthrift and willing to provide increased support for members of the community at all levels,” said Seth Herzon, professor of chemistry.
Steve Lamoreaux, professor of physics, said that he had concerns about his department’s rankings, although he declined to elaborate on the matter further. He added that despite the 10 percent increase of the undergraduate student body, the number of FAS faculty members has not increased accordingly. He added that instead of seeking tenure-track faculty members, the University was increasingly seeking preceptors and lecturers, which “tend to be low paying positions with no promise of advancement.” According to Lamoreaux, the University has attempted to recruit top-rate professors who further diversity in the FAS, only to have other institutions draw these scholars away with higher salaries. He described the experience of watching leading scholars at Yale move to other institutions as “disheartening.”
“When I went to school, I learned that the faculty is the University. In principle, not even the buildings are the University. We could run the whole thing in circus tents for the most part,” Lamoreaux said.
Herzon said he was not surprised by the report’s findings, but he said that he did feel the University had been giving the FAS less attention. Still, other professors, including history professor Anders Winroth, said they were surprised by the Senate’s report. According to Winroth, he “had anecdotal evidence of the FAS being underfunded” but that the report confirmed these suspicions “with systematic evidence.” He added that his field of European history has many vacant positions. Winroth said that when he came to Yale in 1998, the University’s European history program had been the top in the nation. Winroth said that he agreed with the report’s claim that Yale’s recruiting struggles in part originate from New Haven’s lack of opportunity for spouses.
The Faculty of Arts and Sciences Senate was established in 2015.
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