Yale’s newest trustees share vision for a post-COVID University
Maurie McInnis and Marta L. Tellado, the Stony Brook president and a business leader, will join the Yale Corporation’s board of 16 trustees.
Tim Tai, Staff Photographer
The Yale corporation has added two new successor trustees: President of Stony Brook University Maurie McInnis ’90 M.A. ’96 Ph.D., and President and CEO of Consumer Reports Marta Lourdes Tellado ’02 Ph.D.
McInnis and Tellado replace two outgoing trustees of the Yale Corporation — Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo LAW ’98 and Lei Zhang GRD ’02 SOM ’02 — who completed their terms over the past year. According to the Corporation’s senior trustee, Joshua Bekenstein ’80, the new trustees will bring extensive experience in research and public service to the board.
“When you think about the trustees, what we’re trying to build is a group of trustees who each individually bring a lot to the party, but then also, as a group, have a diversity of background, professional experience and points of view,” Bekenstein told the News. “And so we want this combination of 16 people who, each themselves are very talented, but who also knit together and don’t have too many similarities.”
McInnis served as a professor, provost and executive vice president at the University of Texas at Austin from 2016 until 2020, when she joined Stony Brook University. Bekenstein pointed in particular to her extensive experience in academia and research as integral to the University’s leadership body.
Bekenstein and the incoming members expressed their views on the role of the trustee of the Yale Corporation. For Bekenstein, he stressed that the board is a governing — not legislative — body, and so does not benefit from individual members bringing “pet issues” to the board.
“What the trustees are responsible for is a governance role and making sure that we can support a great faculty and a great senior leadership team, and what we’re trying to bring us some outside perspectives and some outside views from our life experiences, and ask good questions and challenge issues in a very positive and constructive way,” Bekenstein said. “We don’t need someone to come on the Board and lobby for climate …[or] other really important issues. These are issues the university has taken on. We need people who bring perspectives.”
“Front and center” for Tellado’s vision of her role as a trustee is sharing her ideas for combating the pandemic, she said. She stressed the importance of continuing to look out for the safety of the community while also bringing campus back to life and noted it as one of her priorities as an incoming member of the board.
Tellado has previously served on the University Cabinet — an advisory committee convened by University President Peter Salovey —an experience which she said allowed her to deeply explore a number of issues facing the university.
In an email to the News, McInnis expressed a similar concern for combatting the pandemic, but also wrote that she believes the University has an important role to play in advancing social causes.
“The pandemic has thrown social and economic inequities into stark relief across the globe.” McInnis wrote to the News. “I believe that Yale University can continue to play a leading role in addressing these issues and advancing a more just society. And simultaneously, it can continue its work to promote equity, inclusion, and diversity on campus, both within its student body and for its faculty and staff.”
As the University continues its investment in the STEM fields, Bekenstein said, it is important to have people on the board who have experience with research institutions, and he pointed to McInnis as someone who could bring that experience.
“So having been Provost at the University of Texas, that’s an enormous responsibility around an enormous research operation,” Bekenstein said of McInnis. “And then being president at Stony Brook, again, we cared a lot about the fact that Stony Brook is a research institution.”
McInnis described her own experiences in academic institutions as integral to the perspective she will bring to her role as a trustee. Before joining the University at Texas at Austin, she was a professor of art history and American studies at the University of Virginia, where she says she began to understand the “interrelationship between my scholarship, my teaching, and my academic leadership.”
“Like Yale, [UT Austin and Stony Brook University] are members of the Association of American Universities (AAU) as well as powerhouse research institutions with academic medical centers and a strong tradition of creativity, research, and scholarship,” she wrote.
Tellado and McInnis bring varied backgrounds to the trustee role. While McInnis has spent her life in academia, which Bekenstein said will suit her well to look out for the University’s academic concerns, Tellado’s professional experience lies in public service.
Tellado led the largest nonprofit consumer organization in the world, Consumer Reports, since 2014. Before that, she was vice president for global communications at the Ford Foundation for a decade.
“I have been really fortunate that in my entire professional life, I have been in mission driven organizations,” Tellado told the News. “And that has really not been by chance. It’s really a commitment I have to serve to public service.”
She described a “continuous thread” of public service throughout her career, from government service to philanthropy. Tellado also discussed how her view of the importance of public service will inform her approach to the University, pointing to specific goals like having “our business schools really think about the greater impact of being a good corporate citizen.”
For Tellado, public service at a place like Yale begins with “values of service and contribution” as well as an acknowledgement that those contributions can be made in a variety of sectors.
“So I see this institution as another incredible contributor to serve as well as to give back and I think it has a tremendous legacy. And so I look forward to maintaining that standard of excellence and in impacting the world in positive ways,” she said.
Connecticut’s governor and lieutenant governor serve as ex officio members of the Yale Corporation.
Correction, Feb. 12: A previous version of this article misspelled Tellado and Zhang’s names. The News regrets these errors.