YaleNews

In 2009, former University President Richard Levin announced that the University would establish the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs with a $50 million gift from John Jackson ’67 and his wife Susan. But what the announcement failed to reveal is that the University also committed tens of millions from its own budget for the founding of the Institute.

The revelation comes amid concerns about a potential School of Global Affairs posing a financial strain on the University’s other investment priorities. According to the gift agreement between Jackson and the University obtained by the News, Yale committed at least $24 million dollars to supporting the Institute at the time. The University also pledged to raise $10 million and provide $2.4 million every year to the Institute, per the agreement.

“Yale agrees to transfer the existing operating budget of Two Million Four Hundred Thousand Dollars ($2,400,000) per year and the personnel that support the master’s program in International Relations … and the undergraduate International Studies … major, to the Institute,” the agreement stated. “This sum will be adjusted annually in accordance with general University budget guidelines. Yale will also dedicate existing endowment resources equal to Twenty Four Million Dollars ($24,000,000) to support the Institute and commit to raising Ten Million Dollars ($10,000,000) for new professorships.”

Despite multiple requests for comment, University Provost Benjamin Polak and Deputy Provost for Academic Resources J. Lloyd Suttle did not respond to questions about whether the $2.4 million came from the endowment or from the University’s operating budget.

The News also obtained a copy of an email Suttle sent to the Director of the Jackson Institute Jim Levinsohn on Jan. 30, 2015, which alleged that the University may have been dedicating even more than $2.4 million annually to the Jackson Institute.

“My understanding (though I could be wrong, because this is the first time I’m getting into the weeds of this arrangement) was that the $2.4 million should include any of the kinds of support in the list above that continue to be funded either from central or MacMillan funds,” the email stated. “Yet as far as I’ve been able to determine, the following resources have been provided in addition to the $2.4 million.”

Per the email, $70,000 from “the Draper Fund,” $130,000 from the Les Aspin Summer Fellowship Fund and $156,000 from “Keller Fellowship Funds” were transferred to the Jackson Institute in addition to the promised $2.4 million in fiscal year 2015. According to the Jackson Institute’s website, the Pierre Keller Fellowship is awarded to an incoming student from a European country, and the Les Aspin ’60 International Public Service Fellowships fund undergraduate summer internships related to the study of national security and international affairs. It remains unclear what “the Draper Fund” is referring to and why the University provided these funds in addition to the promised $2.4 million.

University President Peter Salovey deferred comments to Polak. Both Polak and Levinsohn did not respond to questions about the email the News obtained.

While more funds from the University’s budget may have gone into running the Jackson Institute, Polak told the News Thursday that financing the new school through external gifts appears “achievable.”

“We are confident that top faculty from around the world will be attracted to Yale to create a leading center for research and teaching on global affairs,” Polak said. “The Chevalier Committee recommended that if Jackson becomes a school then the required additional funding should be fully gift-funded. We believe this is achievable, based on the enthusiasm of current supporters.”

But according to the minutes of the December Faculty of Arts and Sciences Senate meeting, Economics professor John Geanakoplos said in the meeting that the University needs to “beware of new activities that are donor-driven but not fully funded in perpetuity.” At that meeting, Economics professor Steven Berry also noted that it would take time to build enthusiasm among faculty members about holding appointments at the new school, the meeting minutes stated.

In an interview with the News in December, School of Public Health Dean Sten Vermund said Yale should “mature the schools [it] already [has] and capacitate them” before creating another one.

Still, Vice President for Development and Alumni Affairs Joan O’Neill told the News that she was “very confident” that the Development Office can raise the funds needed if the Corporation decides to convert Jackson into a full-fledged school.

“Since its founding as the Jackson Institute, we have had great success in raising funds for Jackson and there are many donors who have expressed strong interest in continuing to provide support in the future,” O’Neill said.

When asked whether attaching Jackson’s name would discourage other potential donors from giving to the school, O’Neill said that since the name has been associated with the institute since its founding, it would not impact Yale’s ability to raise the needed funds.

In an interview with the News, Harvard Kennedy School Dean Douglas Elmendorf said that in order to solicit enough interest and funding for a new professional school, universities have to convince potential donors that the school will “make a real difference in the world” with high quality research and instruction.

According to two individuals with direct knowledge of the matter, the Provost’s Advisory Committee discussed ways to ensure that the potential new school of global affairs does not fall into a deficit. The individuals mentioned that the School of Management posed strains on the University’s budget after it was created in 1976 and explained that the committee contemplated ways to avoid a similar situation.

According to Practice of Management professor Stanley Garstka, the School of Management repaid the University with funds from its endowment in the mid-1980s to compensate for the school losing money in the early years after its founding.

“Once you create a new school, you create an annuity of payments,” Gartska explained. “You must have a very sound foundation for the endowment, or the endowment may not support those payments.”

Garstka added that without alumni, new schools have a difficult time raising donations even after securing their initial endowment funding.

Still, in an email to the News, Judy Chevalier, Economics professor and chair of the committee in charge of advising on the future of the Jackson Institute, argued that while the School of Management was created “virtually from scratch,” the new school of global affairs would originate from an already-successful institute. Unlike the School of Management, the school of global affairs would not have to hire most of its faculty members while simultaneously attracting new students, Chevalier explained.

“I wasn’t around for [the] dawn of SOM but I assume that more of the infrastructure that I am describing had to be created from scratch,” Chevalier said. “Notice that the kind of faculty that the University will hire for Jackson are people in disciplines already being hired in other parts of Yale.”

The Corporation discussed whether to convert the Jackson Institute to a school during its meeting earlier this month.

Serena Cho | serena.cho@yale.edu