Courtesy of Selin Nalbantoglu

Last Friday, Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary John Tien visited campus for at least two closed-door meetings with University President Peter Salovey and other members of administration, faculty and students.

Tien and his team joined over a dozen members of the School of the Environment — including Dean Indy Burke, professors and students — in talks focusing on climate change mitigation, and met with Salovey in a separate meeting at his office. Burke told the News that students and faculty asked “great questions” about the tradeoffs between response and proactive planning as well as how to address urban resilience to climate change. DHS officials also spoke about their work with climate-vulnerable communities and urban nonprofits, according to Burke.

“The Deputy Secretary and his team were really inspiring, with a focus on climate change mitigation and adaptation, and on equitable solutions for climate change disasters,” Burke told the News. “They focus both on forecasting and planning, and on responses to disasters.”

Salovey told the News that Thien spoke about the potential for Yale faculty and students to “develop and implement strategies to foster climate resilience.”

One faculty attendee of the meeting with School Environment members, who requested anonymity due to the confidential nature of the meetings, told the News that its focus was on how the Department of Homeland Security sees its role in managing the climate change crisis.

“In short, it was mostly a conversation about how DHS sees its role and the seriousness with which it takes resiliency and equity,” they told the News. “One student talked about her thesis work on these issues and DHS seemed excited. Another student talked about his experience in advocacy in helping vulnerable communities.”

While both the administration and the DHS expressed optimism about collaboration, they continued to explore other issues affecting Yale and peer institutions.

Salovey told the News that he spoke privately  to Tien about international student policy at U.S. universities. Over the past few years, University administrators have lobbied the government over a range of issues affecting Yale’s international community, including visa limitations and academic major restrictions. One policy instituted by the Trump administration in 2020 and continued by the Biden administration is Proclamation 10043, which has prohibited Chinese graduate students in the United States with ties to Chinese universities from obtaining a visa.

In July 2020, following a Department of Homeland Security announcement that international students could not arrive in the U.S. if they took online classes due to COVID-19, the University successfully lobbied to remove the policy.

“As I discussed with President Salovey, there are real opportunities for partnership,” Tien wrote in a Twitter post following the meeting.

DHS was founded in November 2002.

William Porayouw covered Woodbridge Hall for the News and previously reported on international strategy at Yale. Originally from Redlands, California, he is an economics and global affairs major in Davenport College.