Tag Archive: Benjamin Polak

  1. Yale expands online education, appoints new director

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    Following a December report that encouraged the University to prioritize online education, Yale is answering the call.

    In a Wednesday email to the Yale community, Provost Benjamin Polak announced the University’s new partnership with Coursera, an online education platform used by Princeton, Columbia, Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania. Polak also announced the creation of a new standing committee on online education and the appointment of music professor Craig Wright to the new position of academic director of online education.

    In the email, Polak stressed the importance of using online education to explore new teaching strategies that can be used in Yale classrooms.

    “To build on the progress we already have made in this area, we need to take care that our online initiatives complement and enrich Yale’s traditional pedagogy,” Polak said in the email. “We are placing [importance] on web-based teaching not just as a means of global access to Yale courses, but also as a mechanism for exploring new ways to teach the classes that we offer here on campus.”

    Yale’s first courses with Coursera will be available in 2014 and will be taught by political science professor Akhil Amar, psychology professor Paul Bloom, art history and classics professor Diana Kleiner and economics professor Robert Shiller.

    Polak said these free, non-credit courses will “offer opportunities for individuals around the world to benefit from Yale’s excellent teaching and scholarship.”

    Wright, the newly appointed academic director of online education, will work closely with the Yale Teaching Center to “shape the academic policies Yale will need to address [online education],” Polak said.

    Wright previously co-chaired the faculty committee on online education and taught online courses for Yale Summer Session and for Open Yale Courses.

    Polak added that Director of Digital Media and Dissemination Lucas Swineford will continue to work with the Office of General Counsel, the Office of Public Affairs and Communications and University Chief Information Officer Len Peters to develop the University’s approach to online education.

    Polak will also appoint a new standing committee this summer to advise him on developing online initiatives. Chaired by Wright, the committee will be composed of faculty members, administrators and two students.

  2. Across-the-board reductions avoided for FY 2014

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    The University budget for the 2014 fiscal year likely will not require “across-the-board” reductions, newly appointed Provost Benjamin Polak said in a Thursday memo to University faculty and staff.

    Fiscal year 2014 will mark the second year since the 2008 financial crisis that Yale has not implemented University-wide budget cuts. Though Polak said the budget outlook is better than in the past, he acknowledged that it is not yet “sustainable” since annual expenses remain higher than annual revenues. Polak added that the current version of the budget plan — which will be finalized later this spring — does not have the flexibility to fund the new needs and initiatives that are necessary to “keep Yale at the forefront of teaching and the advancement of knowledge.”

    Polak said the 2013-’14 budget plan relies on one-time measures, including the use of reserve funds in both specific schools and departments and general University accounts.

    In order to plan the budget effectively, Polak said he intends to maintain the policies that President-elect and former Provost Peter Salovey put in place last year to promote transparency, including the use of faculty leadership on the University Budget Committee.

    The process and guidelines for the planning of the fiscal year 2014 budget will be similar to that of previous years, Polak said, adding that he will begin meeting with deans, directors and faculty members soon before presenting the budget to University President Richard Levin later this spring.