What kind of community is Yale? Wednesday’s article, “A ‘proliferation of administrators’: faculty reflect on two decades of rapid expansion,” leaves me wondering.

I’m one of those administrators. My title: associate vice president for strategy and analytics. I don’t teach or do research. I try to help Yale leaders — faculty and administrators — utilize data to make better decisions to run this place well. Sound like bloat? I don’t think so, but maybe you do. Of course, I’m conflicted. We all are. We all see this community from different perspectives. Mine is as a professional who came to Yale because I believe in it and thought I might play some small but meaningful role in helping it come closer to living out its ideals.

What do I think Yale is? I think Yale is a place that tries to shape the world for the better. A place of high ideals. A place that enjoys a special place in society for good reason. I don’t have the privilege of being in the classroom or the residential colleges. But I believe and trust that the Yale faculty are engaged in this work every day. I believe and trust that Yale students recognize the privilege of their education and will seek to do good in the world.

Likewise, I see staff deeply committed to this mission. The University is a large organization. As scale has increased so has complexity. I take the scale as a good thing — more teaching and research is better for the world, right? But managing that scale requires people. The more I’ve gotten to know those people — and COVID provided a new window — the more I appreciate the wide cast of staff who serve Yale with dedication. I wouldn’t expect faculty or students to know much about this. If staff do their jobs well, faculty can focus on what they do well, and not worry about the rest. That’s the sign of a job well done.

Now, I’m sure there are some who don’t live up to this ideal. Faculty, staff, students. That’s human nature. I care about helping Yale make itself better. I believe Yale can — and must — seek always to improve itself, in all dimensions of the mission and its operations. 

I’m a data person. We could get into the data. We should — Yale’s leadership has a duty to ensure it spends our resources well. But set that aside for now. This is about humans, and a human community. My question is: what does it say about a place when one group dismisses, tout court, the value of an entire other group? It doesn’t align with the values I hope to see Yale promulgating through its core missions. As a pragmatic matter, I don’t think it’s the way to attract the best staff to serve Yale.  

So I say: isn’t learning together, as a community, how to truly value the contributions of all individuals entirely consistent with Yale’s ideal? Isn’t that a better use of our energy? I hope all Yale community members — staff, as well as students and faculty — will take a moment for some reflection on what we want Yale to be and how we can all better make reality fit that vision.

TIM PAVLIS is the Associate Vice President for Strategy and Analytics in the Office of the Provost. Contact him at timothy.pavlis@yale.edu.


To the Editor:

As a Yale alum, a human rights advocate and a lecturer in human rights and global studies, I urge the Yale administration to make a more serious, sustained and substantive response to anti-Jewish discrimination at Yale. The administration’s response should focus on being proactive in anti-discrimination efforts, working holistically across the University community to ensure respect for and inclusion of Jewish students, faculty and staff. Greater resources need to be invested in supporting Jewish students both as individuals and as a community. The University should take a human rights-centered approach that centers affirming the dignity and equal rights of Jewish Yalies. The administration needs to listen more carefully, empathetically and act more responsively and responsibly towards Jewish members of the Yale community in tangible and genuine support and solidarity. 

NOAM SCHIMMEL ’02 is a Saybrook College graduate and an Associate Fellow at the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism at McGill University –– Faculty of Law.