President Peter Salovey and Senior Fellow Donna Dubinsky announced on March 27 initiatives to make the Yale Corporation more accessible to the Yale community, and to help its members better understand the wide-ranging activities and concerns of all faculty, students, staff, and alumni.
“We’ve sensed an unintentional feeling of distance between the Yale Corporation and the rest of the Yale community,” said Dubinsky. “So we've put together a package of initiatives to bridge that gap. Several of the initiatives serve to clarify what the Yale Corporation does whereas others are designed to help its members understand better what’s going on in the Yale community today.”
“Part of the confusion surrounds the name: The Yale Corporation,” said Salovey. “Many members of the community do not understand that this is Yale’s name for our board of trustees, made up of alumni who volunteer their valuable time and expertise.”
To communicate the responsibilities and work of this group, Salovey and Dubinsky announced that the Yale Corporation, while keeping its formal name, will now be referred to as the Board of Trustees. In addition, the board’s website has been upgraded, making public the schedule of meetings, and providing additional detail about the board’s responsibilities. Salovey will conduct a briefing for the campus press after each board meeting to discuss meeting highlights as well.
The board also is taking steps to connect more regularly with faculty, staff, and students on campus. Individual or small groups of trustees will hold meetings with a variety of campus groups on the day before each board meeting, and the new website includes a form where Yale community members can ask questions, make comments, or request meetings.
Trustees will be paired for a year with a dean — whether the dean of Yale College, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, or one of the professional schools — allowing them to forge a closer relationship with the faculty and students of that school. After a year, the trustees will rotate to a different dean. In addition to the routine board sessions that focus on academic priorities, the full board will now also receive a regular report on notable faculty research, publications, prizes, and awards. “The faculty is the heart of the university. Helping trustees understand faculty scholarship, research, and teaching is very important,” Salovey said.
“Over a trustee’s term, he or she will develop a broader understanding of the academic issues on campus,” said Dubinsky, adding that the interaction with faculty and students is the reward for serving as a trustee. “We volunteer our time; we spend a lot of effort on our board service. Why do we do it? Because we want to support Yale’s amazing research and our amazing students.”
Going forward, the university will evaluate these initiatives to determine their effectiveness and work to strengthen further the board and its relationships with the campus and alumni communities.