On Sunday, May 19, alumni will have their final chance to vote David Millstone onto the Board of Trustees. This is no presidential election, but the future of Yale may depend on it given the power of the board to shape university policy and operations. The question remains to be addressed in earnest: does Mr. Millstone have what it takes to be a good steward of the University?

Mr. Millstone is known as a businessman — and for good reason. With 20,000 employees operating in 82 countries, his company, Standard Industries, is a juggernaut that oversees a wide variety of business including industrial manufacturers, solar roofing companies and a venture capital fund that invests in tech companies. More than the business, however, is the man.

In 1995, David Millstone left his hometown of Bethesda, Maryland, to attend Yale College. He was on the crew team during his four years and, thanks to a friend on the rowing team, he met his wife, Jennifer Heyman — now Millstone — in his sophomore year. 

Not only did Mr. Millstone meet his wife at Yale, but he also appears wedded to the university itself. Since 2019, he has served as a member of the University Council — which offers recommendations to the President on many facets of University life. In 2022, Mr. Millstone and his wife provided a generous gift to the Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies to establish the Millstone Fellowship. The annual fellowship supports students “exploring careers in public service through summer internships in government.” Of the seven inaugural fellows, four have prior internship experience with Democrats in Congress, one is the president of the Yale Undergraduate Prison Project, and another served as legislative captain for Yale College Democrats — a testament to Mr. Millstone’s dedication to leadership and serving the public. 

Mr. Millstone’s commitment to public service does not stop at the gates of High Street, though. He and Mrs. Millstone are among the key sponsors of the Service to America Medals at the Partnership for Public Service and Mrs. Millstone serves on the organization’s board of directors. These awards recognize federal employees who, among other things, “defend the homeland, protect the environment, explore the universe, ensure public safety, make scientific and medical discoveries, respond to natural disasters.”

As The New York Times wrote last year, Mr. Millstone is deeply “interested in issues of sustainability and social justice,” which Yale holds dear. In his day job as co-CEO of Standard Industries, he has pushed aggressively to harness the power of solar energy and possessed the gall to take on Elon Musk in doing so. In his philanthropy, he and his wife support the Innocence Project, which works to free the innocent and prevent wrongful convictions, along with a prison education organization called the Bard Prison Initiative and Fortune Society, which integrates formerly incarcerated people into society to reduce recidivism rates. He also established The Millstone Fund for Criminal Justice Reform at Yale Law School, another example of the passion for positive reform which Mr. Millstone will bring to the Board. 

Despite his demonstrated commitment to Yale, public service and social justice, critics make haste to point out David Millstone’s donations to Republican politicians and causes. Yet, a quick look through FEC filings just as easily reveals his donations to Democrats such as Kristin Gillibrand, Chuck Schumer, Ritchie Torres, Mikie Sherrill and Michael Bennett. Mr. Millstone does not play party politics. He engages with both sides of the aisle, and does not blindly, nor dogmatically, support one over the other. His allegiance to public service and causes of sustainability and criminal justice suggest that he understands the necessity of working with both parties to achieve tangible reform. This will prove essential to work on the Board of Trustees as it requires compromise, nuance, and the ability to cut across political divides.

Mr. Millstone has shown that, in addition to his pragmatic experience as a business leader, he is a thoughtful intellectual. He studied mathematics and philosophy during his time at Yale, and remains a “big fiction reader” to this day. He leads a speaker series at Standard Industries, including conversations with Marjorie Garber on Shakespeare’s plays and with theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli on how we perceive time and build knowledge.

Yale alumni ought to be furnishing the Board of Trustees with those who possess intellectual curiosity and real-world experience, and who are committed to strengthening Yale, public service and virtuous causes. Mr. Millstone manages to do it all, while raising four daughters. Given that it’s a Goliath-like task to improve the state of our university, it’s a good thing there is a David up for the job. 

GABRIEL DIAMOND is a senior in Branford College at Yale majoring in political science, and a research assistant at the Yorktown Institute. He can be reached at gabe.diamond@yale.edu