Ellie Park, Photography Editor

This Wednesday will mark five months since the Yale Corporation — the University’s 16-member board of trustees — officially began its search for Yale’s 24th president. Although the Search Committee emailed several progress updates to the Yale community throughout the opening weeks of the search, it has now been over three months since the last such update.  

Amid national scrutiny surrounding presidential conduct and qualifications at several of Yale’s peer institutions, the Corporation has yet to comment on how it plans to vet its next leader, nor has it divulged qualities and characteristics it may be seeking.

Less than two months into Yale’s last presidential search — which culminated in the appointment of current University President Peter Salovey — the Search Committee released a set of nine characteristics that it would look for in the next president. No similar list has been made available during the current search process.

On Nov. 30, the News reached out to the University spokesperson to inquire about any updates in the search process. The News has reached out to University officials again at least ten times since then — with no direct response — inquiring about how controversies at peer universities, including the public resignations of Harvard University president Claudine Gay and University of Pennsylvania president Liz Magill ’88, could impact Yale’s own search process, but the University declined to comment. Similarly, University officials declined to offer specifics about the vetting process for potential candidates, which may be especially pertinent given the plagiarism allegations raised against Gay during her final weeks in office. 

The searches that led to Salovey’s appointment and to the appointment of former Yale president Richard Levin took 65 days and 10 months, respectively. Salovey’s appointment was expedited, in part, due to two simultaneous presidential searches at peer institutions — namely, Princeton University and Dartmouth College. Yale is now joined by three other elite universities seeking new presidents; still, the process seems to be moving slower than last time. 

“The search committee will benefit greatly from a robust and inclusive process,” Corporation senior trustee Joshua Bekenstein ’80, who is leading the search committee for Salovey’s successor, wrote in his Aug. 31 email. “It is of the utmost importance that we actively seek input from the Yale community, and the trustees are fully committed to engaging with students, faculty, staff, and alumni.”

In September, the Yale College Council, the Graduate Student Assembly and the Graduate and Professional Student Senate drafted a resolution calling for students to be formally incorporated into the Search Committee. Following student demand, the Search Committee announced the incorporation of a Student Advisory Council to the search process that would include four students each who are undergraduates, graduates and professional students. The SAC was tasked with gathering input from students across the University, hosting listening sessions and soliciting responses to an anonymous feedback form. 

Yalies and external experts in education have also called for diversity at the institution’s top post. Of its 23 presidents, Yale has never been led by a person of color. And except for Hanna Holborn Gray, who served as acting president following the resignation of Kingman Brewster Jr. ’41, the University has also never had a woman at the helm.

Former dean of Harvard College Harry Lewis previously told the Harvard Crimson that transparency was not considered a top priority in collegiate presidential searches because it could increase the possibility of name leaks.

He added that a wholly transparent process might cause some high-profile candidates to refuse consideration to prevent facing issues “at their home institutions or the institution that they’re now leading.”

“A fully-transparent process, where everybody knows who all the candidates are, will have very quickly a very small pool,” Lewis told the Crimson.

Last week, the News published a list of five key questions about Yale’s presidential search in light of recent turmoil at peer universities. 

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.