Disillusioned by faculty members’ alleged lack of input in major institutional decisions, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Senate published a resolution of concern last week demanding that the University improve their accountability to the elected representative body.
In an email to FAS faculty on May 10, chair of the FAS Senate William Nordhaus said the Senate voted to distribute the resolution among FAS faculty and Yale Corporation members earlier this month. According to a copy of the resolution obtained by the News, the Senate listed the renaming of Calhoun College, the conversion of the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs into a degree-offering school and the establishment of the Schwarzman Center as instances of University leadership failing to consult the senate “on key issues affecting the FAS.” Per the resolution, the administration also did not solicit their input when deciding on the structure of the faculty excellence initiatives, the composition of university budgets and the objectives of the upcoming capital campaign.
“The Senate proposes that the administration lay out concrete steps to improve its accountability to the Senate and the faculty,” the resolution stated. “These steps would include timely formal written responses to the recommendations of Senate reports; and methods for meaningful consultations with the Senate on key issues affecting the FAS and the FAS faculty.”
Nordhaus did not respond to multiple requests for comment. But in the May 10 email, Nordhaus said the Executive Council is looking forward to “working with the administration over the summer to remedy the concerns” expressed in the resolution. University President Peter Salovey also did not respond to request for comment.
Prior to the FAS senate’s April meeting — where the group discussed whether to distribute the resolution — Salovey, FAS dean Tamar Gendler and University Provost Ben Polak received a draft of the document. In April, the senators decided to delay the discussion on the resolution by just one vote. According to two senators who were present at the meeting last week, “a vast majority, if not all” of the senators voted to publish the resolution of concern in the May meeting. The senators requested anonymity to speak candidly about a confidential meeting.
According to the resolution, the senate also argued that the administration repeatedly failed to respond publicly to its reports, including the 2019 Research and Scholarly Excellence Report and the 2017 Report on the Status, Pay and Conditions of Non-Ladder Faculty. The senate has “deep concerns” about the administration’s lack of consultation and response to its reports, the resolution stated.
The publication of the resolution comes as the relationship between the senate and the University administration grows increasingly confrontational. This spring, 13 tenured professors withdrew from the Ethnicity, Race and Migration program and refused to return until the University added five new faculty positions in early May. Concerns about transparency emerged when Gendler advised the Senate not to release the Research and Scholarly Excellence Report at a meeting in December, saying it would reflect badly on the University administration.
According to the two anonymous individuals and another senator — who also requested anonymity in fear of retribution — Gendler criticized the tone of the resolution at the senate’s April meeting. Gendler did not respond to questions about which parts of the resolution she found concerning.
Still, Gendler emphasized in an email to the News that the FAS senate is a relatively new organization created in 2014 and said the University leadership is “committed to optimizing the way [it] work[s] with” members of the senate. Contrary to the statements in the resolution, Gendler argued that the University leadership has responded to the Senate’s reports and solicited faculty input before making institutional decisions.
“We have responded to those reports, as is Yale’s custom, through action rather than written response, gratefully adopting the many suggestions that were feasible to undertake,” Gendler said. “… There has been substantial faculty involvement — often through faculty committees — with respect to other initiatives that the Senate mentions in its resolution, including the establishment of the Jackson School of Global Affairs (including a formal discussion with the FAS Senate in February), and the diversity and faculty excellence initiatives.”
Gendler added that she meets with the Senate leadership at least twice a month, including a monthly meeting with the Senate executive committee and Salovey. She also frequently communicates with senators involved in subcommittees, Gendler said. She explained that Salovey met with about two hundred faculty members to discuss the renaming of Calhoun College and said faculty committees were involved in the establishment of a global affairs school and the faculty excellence initiatives.
The FAS Senate is in recess until September.
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