Marisa Peryer

The Yale Corporation and members of the presidential search committee are hosting listening sessions to solicit feedback from students, staff and faculty on the search before convening for the Corporation’s first meeting of the year on Saturday.

The Yale Corporation, composed entirely of alumni, is the University’s highest governing body and is in charge of choosing the next University President. In a purported effort to include voices across the Yale community, the Corporation will hold listening sessions at the Yale University Art Gallery Lecture Hall over the course of three days this week.

Upon arrival to the listening sessions, participants will be able to sign up to speak for up to three minutes. 

“[The Yale Corporation] at this stage is less focused on names, more focused on the attributes and characteristics that the Yale community, students, staff, faculty and alumni would like to see in the next president, ” University President Peter Salovey told the News. “They’ve reserved a lot of time at the next meeting to work on those things and they will do that without me.”

Yale College Council Vice President Maya Fonkeu ’25 wrote to the News in an email that the listening sessions are a “great step” to gauge student opinion in the presidential search but are “not necessarily sufficient.” 

Fonkeu added that it is important for the Corporation to create a “more formal, structured, and hands-on approach” to incorporate student feedback.

Given that the listening sessions were announced “on such short notice,” Fonkeu also wrote that she anticipates student attendance will be “tremendously” lower than it could have been. 

Josh Bekenstein ’80, the Corporation’s senior trustee, sent email invitations to the Yale community on Tuesday morning. The three days of listening sessions are set to begin on Wednesday, one day after Bekenstein’s email. 

When Salovey announced that he plans on stepping down this coming June, Bekenstein wrote in an email to the University that the search committee would “move swiftly” to create additional methods of soliciting input from the University community beyond hosting listening sessions at the end of September and receiving anonymous feedback through an online form

Following his announcement, the YCC, Graduate Student Assembly and the Graduate and Professional Student Senate passed a resolution demanding more student representation in the search committee.

“I encourage students to sit down and carefully consider the qualities and qualifications they want in their future University President and why, ” Fonkeu wrote to the News. “Hopefully the Board of Trustees members will take all of these suggestions into consideration as they go through the search process.”

Bekenstein previously told the News that designing more ways to get feedback on the presidential search process from University constituents was among the Corporation’s first agenda items. 

In an email to the University, Bekenstein told the News that the Corporation intends to offer as many opportunities as possible for people to share their opinions directly with the search committee.

“The most important thing that we’re going to do is get input from the community, ” he told the News. “We will use that input to develop the characteristics that we’re going to be using in identifying the president.”

On Wednesday, the Corporation will host sessions from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. for staff and from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. for graduate and professional students. On Thursday, the Corporation and members of the search committee will be present from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. at William L. Harkness Hall, room 201 in Sudler Hall and 100 Wall St. for undergraduate students. 

They will also host a session at the O.C. Marsh Lecture Hall in the Science Building and in room 110 of the Hope Building for faculty. From 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., listening sessions will be held at Marsh Lecture Hall for any University student, in room 114 at Sheffield, Sterling, Strathcona Hall for faculty, and the Conference Center Event rooms A&B on West Campus for West Campus affiliates.

The Corporation will convene on campus for four other meetings on Dec. 2, Feb. 17, April 20 and June 8.

Benjamin Hernandez covers Woodbridge Hall, the President's Office. He previously reported on international affairs at Yale. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, he is a sophomore in Trumbull College majoring in Global Affairs.