Strobel commits to increasing faculty size, salaries in annual address
In his speech to members of Yale’s Faculty of Arts & Sciences about the year’s budget priorities, the Provost also committed to expanding childcare benefits and increasing staff paid family leave to eight weeks.
Yale Daily News
Yale will commit to expanding the size of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences and increasing faculty salaries, University Provost Scott Strobel said in a faculty-wide meeting Thursday.
Each year, the University Provost — Yale’s chief educational and budget officer after University President Peter Salovey — gives an address to faculty at the invitation of Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences Tamar Gendler. At Strobel’s third address since assuming the role of provost in 2020, he summarized the year’s budget priorities, emphasizing closing the gap between Yale’s FAS size and salaries and those of its peer institutions. The message caps off a slew of spending commitments the University has made in recent weeks.
This is not the first time that Yale has promised to increase its faculty size — Strobel made the same commitment at an April 2021 FAS Senate meeting. He also acknowledged while attending his first FAS Senate meeting as provost in January 2020 that compensation for Yale faculty had fallen below that of the University’s peers. Thursday’s address, however, marked the first time in recent years that Yale has committed to reaching 700 faculty members — a goal first set in 2008 — and to increasing faculty pay.
Strobel also announced that the University is on track to allocate a total of $13 million to pandemic-era childcare benefits to support working families, and that it will, beginning next year, offer a new childcare stipend for certain faculty, staff and postdoctoral associates and fellows. He also promised that new details about childcare, including support for PhD students, would be announced in the coming weeks.
Managerial and professional staff will also see paid family leave extended from four to eight weeks starting in January 2022. Also beginning next year, those staff members will no longer be required to use their sick days for taking short-term disability leave.
Faculty members expressed excitement about many of the spending initiatives, and in particular the plans to invest in faculty. Professor of economics John Geanakoplos said that Yale has an “extraordinary” opportunity to dramatically increase the number of faculty as well as their average salaries.
“I hope that they follow through and do something really bold,” Geanakoplos said. “[Strobel] could go down in Yale history as a transformative figure if he marshals the resources in the right way.”
New details about hiring will be announced over the coming months, University spokesperson Karen Peart said.
In his speech, Strobel also said that the University will increase its yearly contribution to the city of New Haven by an unspecified amount, echoing similar commitments made by Salovey in October. Strobel also nodded to the University’s recently-announced plans to eliminate the student income contribution, a move student advocacy groups have called for since 2012. The elimination was announced in late October, along with an expansion of aid for international students and a new child care subsidy for Yale College students with dependents.
Thursday’s address represented a relative “return to normal” after last year’s unusual circumstances, which saw the University making adaptive policy decisions designed to address the constantly-shifting situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gendler told the News.
The 2021 fiscal year saw the University endowment’s increase by a staggering $11.1 billion, or 40.2 percent. Because the University aims to spend 5.25 percent of its endowment each year, this increase results in $600 million in extra spending over the next five years in accordance with Yale’s “smoothing rule,” of which $120 million is available for spending next year.
While the year’s budget priorities have been broadly defined, the exact details of where money is allocated have yet to be finalized. For example, the implementation and scope of a possible new childcare subsidy for faculty, postdoctoral fellows and associates, and other staff members are still being deliberated, Strobel said.
FAS Senate Chair Valerie Horsley told the News that the Senate will soon create a new budget subcommittee to identify and advocate for faculty budgetary priorities in conjunction with Gendler and Strobel.
Strobel began the meeting by committing to increasing the size of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, acknowledging that Yale has lagged behind peer institutions over the last decade. The FAS currently has 676 tenured and ladder-track faculty. He also committed to increasing average faculty salaries to match those at peer institutions.
Funding the FAS costs around $200 million annually, Geanakoplos pointed out. He also expressed appreciation for the provost’s prioritization of investments in faculty and “upfront” admission of Yale’s gap compared to its peers.
The coming investments in faculty is welcomed by faculty members, Horsley said.
“These are issues that the FAS Senate has been advocating for over the past few years as it became clear that FAS faculty salaries are not on par with our peers at other institutions and faculty are teaching more and more students as the undergraduate student body has increased,” Horsley wrote in an email to the News.
Professor of computer science Michael Fischer suggested that Gendler, who oversees hiring and salary decisions, should be granted greater fiscal autonomy in order to achieve best results.
“I was pleased to learn that Provost Strobel welcomes broad input from the faculty and that Dean Gendler is empowered to put new mechanisms in place for setting priorities within FAS,” Fischer wrote in an email to the News. “I hope this will also come with giving the dean greater budgetary discretion.”
The FAS Senate will next meet on Nov. 18.
Correction, Nov. 15: This article has been updated with an accurate timeline of Strobel’s past comments and to reflect that changes announced pertain specifically to members of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences. announced pertain specifically to members of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences.