At the Yale Corporation meeting in June, trustees reviewed and discussed the University’s academic, administrative and financial priorities, such as the University Science Strategy Committee’s recommendation to start a neuroscience institute.
But missing from the group’s discussion was the resolution of concern that the Faculty of Arts and Sciences published in May, when FAS senators voiced “deep concerns” about faculty members’ lack of input in major University decisions. The Corporation has yet to address those concerns and, according to the University President Peter Salovey, “no other response is planned” for the resolution. Still, Senate representatives meet with trustee faculty liaisons from time to time, and the resolution “may arise when they next meet,” Salovey explained.
“To be clear, I take seriously the concerns raised by the FAS Senate in [the] spring and have them clearly in mind as we begin a new academic year,” Salovey said on Wednesday. “Over the summer, [FAS Dean Tamar] Gendler and I had conversations with the incoming FAS Senate Chair, Professor Geanakoplos, about ways to work together more effectively.”
In May, then-chair of the FAS Senate William Nordhaus distributed a copy of the resolution among FAS faculty and Yale Corporation members. Since the Senate’s founding in 2015, the resolution marked the first time that senators openly and collectively voiced their discontent with the University leadership. Following months of elevated tension between the senate and the Yale administration, the resolution listed a set of instances where the University leadership failed to solicit the senators’ input “on key issues affecting the FAS” and called on the administration to “lay out concrete steps to improve its accountability” to the Senate and the faculty.
English professor Jill Campbell, who served as the acting chair of the FAS Senate in the summer, said there is “nothing to report” when asked about the lack of response from the University administration.
“The discussion with both the Corporation and the administration about the issues and hopes raised by the Resolution will be a longer-term process,” Campbell wrote in an email to the News.
FAS Senate chair John Geanakoplos, who recently assumed the position, seconded Campbell’s comment.
In 2015, the formation of the faculty senate led to a tug-of-war over how much influence the body would have on major University decisions. In a statement to the News, Gendler said faculty members’ willingness to take time away from research and teaching, and weigh in on major University affairs is “the sign of a healthy institution.” Still, University administrators want to make sure that most faculty time is spent on research and teaching — “the core mission of the university” — Gendler said.
“It is always a challenge to strike the right balance, and it is inevitable that there will be disagreements around the edges,” Gendler added.
According to senior trustee Catharine Bond Hill GRD ’85, corporation members occasionally meet with faculty, including members of the FAS Senate.
Salovey added that faculty members have been involved in some of the most important decisions made by the University in recent years, including planning for the renovated space in the Hall of Graduate Studies and the decision to create a new School of Global Affairs.
“More generally, faculty committees have always governed the academic decision-making throughout the University, such as faculty hiring, promotions to tenure and the curriculum in Yale College and each of the schools,” Salovey said. “Faculty have always been central to decision-making at Yale and will continue to be so.”
But the Resolution of Concern listed a variety of instances in which the University did not consult the Senate, including the renaming of Calhoun College, the conversion of the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs into a degree-offering school and the establishment of the Schwartzman Center.
It also said Yale’s administration failed to solicit input related to faculty excellence initiatives, composition of University budgets and the objectives of the impending 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.”
The FAS Senate will reconvene in September.
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