This piece was written as a group statement by the current YAA Board of Governors volunteer alumni members of the AFNC.
Each year, a group of Yale alumni volunteers works to select one or more candidates to stand for election as an alumni fellow on the Yale Board of Trustees, aka the Yale Corporation — the governing body of the University. The candidate(s) are chosen by the Yale Alumni Association Alumni Fellow Nominating Committee, or AFNC, which is composed of both alumni volunteers and University leaders. We are the 2020-21 volunteer alumni members of that committee, and we are proud to announce David A. Thomas as our 2021 candidate for alumni fellow.
David A. Thomas ’78 GRD ’86 is a nationally recognized, award-winning thought leader and higher education professional with extensive nonprofit and corporate board experience, and he is currently the 12th president of Morehouse College. Thomas’ research focuses on executive development and cultural diversity in organizations. Thomas is a dedicated leader in the Yale alumni community, and has been a member of the Yale Black Alumni Association, Yale School of Management Board of Advisors and University Council Committee on Workplace Diversity. As a first-generation college student who earned four Yale degrees — a bachelor’s in 1978, two master’s degrees in 1984, and a doctorate in organizational behavior in 1986 — he is also a beacon of hope and opportunity, inspiring others in our community.
This has been a truly unique year for the world, for Yale and for the alumni fellow election process. This year, two petition candidates qualified for the ballot, with one candidate moving forward for possible election. As fellow alumni, we have been inspired by the petition candidates’ passion for Yale displayed through the petition process. We have also noted that the remaining candidate’s platform relies on questioning the work of this committee and the integrity of the selection process. We too believe the Yale community deserves transparency, so we are publishing this piece to set the record straight and share why we believe Thomas is best suited to become the next alumni fellow of the Yale Board of Trustees.
Many claims have been made about who chooses the AFNC candidate(s). We are a group of volunteer leaders who, based on our records of engagement with and service to the Yale community, have been elected or appointed by fellow alumni to the YAA Board of Governors, and subsequently to this committee, alongside University leaders. Collectively, we belong to classes spanning 1980 to 2011 and hold degrees from Yale College and the graduate and professional schools. Our group includes doctors, entrepreneurs and consultants, each of whom volunteers hours every week to serve the alumni community to the best of their ability.
As this process began, we set out to conduct a thorough, thoughtful and just selection process as the AFNC has always done. Our committee began its work by poring over the nominations that had been submitted via the public nomination form open to all alumni. Each of us reviewed every nominee’s profile and supporting documents. We spent many hours discussing the current and future challenges of the University, any perceived gaps in perspective and experience on the Board of Trustees and the merits of each nominee in relation to those factors. Our committee also prioritized humility, leadership and objectivity in selecting a candidate, as those qualities are paramount to a trustee’s service.
In a robust and impressive field, David A. Thomas consistently rose to the top. As volunteer alumni members of the AFNC, we believe Thomas has the expertise, vision and leadership skills necessary to help guide Yale forward. In our roles as alumni leaders, we have conviction that Thomas will represent all University constituencies, as is required of a trustee. It has been our honor to serve on this committee and to present David A. Thomas as a candidate for the Yale Board of Trustees.
We encourage you to watch the candidate video statements, read the biographies, discuss this election and the merits of each candidate with your fellow alumni and, most importantly, to VOTE for the candidate you think is best suited to serve Yale as a trustee. Let’s set a record for alumni participation in this year’s election!
Your fellow alumni and current volunteer YAA Board of Governors members of the AFNC
P.S. To nominate Yale alumni for consideration in next year’s election, click here. We strongly encourage nominations, and every nomination will be considered.
TARA FALCONE (MC ’11) is a volunteer member of the YAA Board of Governors and currently serves on the Alumni Fellow Nominating Committee (AFNC).