Amidst concerns regarding faculty members’ lack of input in Yale’s major institutional decisions, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Senate discussed last Thursday whether to distribute a resolution of concern, which requests that University administration consult the group more frequently on major projects and promptly respond to the Senate’s concerns.
According to three individuals who were at the senate meeting, the draft resolution — which was sent to University President Peter Salovey, University Provost Ben Polak and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Tamar Gendler prior to the meeting — listed instances in which University administrators allegedly failed to solicit senators’ feedback before making a major institutional decision. Specifically, the draft resolution included University deliberations such as whether to rename Calhoun College and whether to create the Jackson School of Global Affairs, those individuals said.
All three individuals added that the draft resolution also pointed out that the University administration has not addressed concerns raised in recent reports published by the senate, including the senate’s Research and Scholarly Excellence Report. The individuals requested anonymity in fear of retribution from the University administration and explained that all faculty members were asked not to take copies of the proposal from the meeting. According to chair of the FAS Senate William Nordhaus, formal consideration of the resolution has been deferred to the senate’s next meeting in May.
“There is not an official Senate position [on the resolution yet],” Nordhaus said in an email to the News. “However, many Senators are concerned about the lack of response to reports and lack of advanced consultation on major initiatives that has been shown by the administration.”
Nordhaus added that waiting until the upcoming meeting would give senators more time to consider the resolution. According to the three individuals, the senators decided to delay the discussion on the resolution by just one vote.
Salovey and Polak declined to comment on the draft resolution, saying that they were not present at the Thursday senate meeting.
According to Gendler, she noted in the meeting that the resolution may be mistakenly “perceived as confrontational,” and could thus be counterproductive. In a message to the News, she explained that she meets with senate colleagues at least twice a month to discuss important matters, including a monthly meeting with the Senate Executive Committee and Salovey. She also added that she attends the senate’s monthly meetings.
“The University leadership appreciates its partnership with our faculty senate colleagues and are grateful for their many contributions to the faculty and to the University more broadly,” Gendler said.
The senate’s discussion comes amid escalating tensions between the University administration and faculty members. Last month, 13 tenured professors withdrew from the Ethnicity, Race and Migration program citing the University’s administrative disinterest in the program. Following the resignations, Salovey told the News that that he “regret[s] their decision to withdraw from the [program] … in this manner.”
Concerns about the University administration’s transparency rose to the surface when the News reported that Gendler advised the FAS Senate to not release the Research and Scholarly Excellence Report at a meeting in December, saying it would reflect badly on the University administration, according to three faculty members who attended the meeting.
The full version of the report obtained by the News pointed out faculty members’ deep-seated dissatisfaction with University administration. According to the full report, 69 percent of tenured FAS 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. Fifty-seven percent of tenured faculty members disagreed with the statement that they are “energized by the administration’s vision for my department,” the report stated. On Wednesday, Nordhaus told the News that the senate will make the full report public this summer.
The FAS Senate was formed in 2015.
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