Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Tamar Gendler advised the FAS Senate to not release the Research and Scholarly Excellence Report at a December meeting, saying it would reflect badly on the University administration, according to three faculty members who attended the meeting.
The full version of the report — which was previously unavailable to the public but was obtained by the News — reveals dissatisfaction among faculty members concerning salaries, departmental ranks and Yale’s academic priorities. While FAS faculty members received a full copy of the report on Nov. 15, the Senate only publicly released an abbreviated version of the report in January. While both reports feature the same set of recommendations, which call on Yale to prioritize “the excellence of the FAS and Yale College” and increase faculty salaries, the full report includes more statistics from the FAS faculty-wide survey.
According to the three faculty members, Gendler requested that the Senate refrain from posting the full report because if the News were to publish a story recounting its findings, the report would draw attention from readers across the world. Gendler added that the release of the report would make the administration “look bad” and damage the University’s ongoing faculty recruitment and retention efforts, the three anonymous sources said. The faculty members requested anonymity due to fear of retribution from University administration.
“My senate colleagues and I are very much in alignment on our vision for the university: we are committed to creating and sustaining an institution where faculty thrive in their research, teaching, and engagement with the community,” Gendler said in a statement to the News. “… The difference between us is that I think such matters are best discussed faculty-to-faculty, as colleagues, rather than in a venue where some may lack the context needed to fully understand the concerns that are being raised.”
When asked how releasing the full version of the report would damage faculty retention and recruitment efforts, Gendler did not respond to a request for comment. In interviews with the News, two of the anonymous faculty members said Yale should introduce initiatives and policies to help recruit faculty members and improve faculty morale, rather than hide the FAS Senate’s findings from the public.
Economics professor John Geanakoplos, who authored the report, said that the Senate decided to restrict the public from accessing the full report “in consultation with the administration.” Geanakoplos declined to comment further for the story.
According to the full report, 69 percent of tenured faculty members said they do not believe that their respective department ranks within the top five in their respective fields among institutions of higher education. The report also states that longtime faculty members feel that the “quality” of their departments has declined. 57 percent of tenured faculty disagreed with the statement that they are “energized by the administration’s vision for my department,” the report stated.
But in an email to the News, Gendler said many of Yale’s departments — such as the Economics, Political Science, History, Psychology and English departments — “are clearly top 5” in the country and support large undergraduate majors and leading graduate programs.
“Some of our other departments have excellent individual faculty and great strength in subfields, but are somewhat less highly ranked overall, often because they are smaller than peer departments at larger institutions,” Gendler said.
Per the full version of the report, faculty members identified lack of time as the biggest impediment to research. 73 percent of tenured faculty members believe that their administrative duties have increased since they came to the University and 56 percent reported a decrease in their departmental administrative support staff, the report stated.
When asked how she would respond to the report’s claims that faculty members feel Yale has become increasingly thrifty despite increases in the endowment, Gendler said that some of the “pre-2008 financial commitments were unsustainable in the new financial environment.”
On Monday, Gendler announced the creation of a new Faculty Activity Committee which will provide recommendations for better methods for “collecting information on faculty activities in research, teaching, and service across the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.” According to Gendler, the Committee was created in response to the November report issued by the Committee on the Economic Status of the Faculty, which recommended that Yale increase the salaries of Faculty of Arts and Sciences ladder faculty to close the gap between Yale and its peer institutions “as quickly as possible.”
In the fall of 2015, during a period of heated campus discussions surrounding issues of diversity and inclusion, Yale committed $50 million to diversifying its faculty. In September, the University dedicated another $26 million to recruiting and retaining preeminent scholars for the next five years.
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Clarification, Feb. 14: A previous version of this story stated that Gendler “instructed the FAS Senate” not to release its report. The story was updated to clarify that Gendler “advised the FAS Senate” to not release the report, since she does not have the oversight to instruct the FAS Senate — an autonomous body.