Building on Yale’s iconic strengths: Salovey updates alumni delegates on the mission of the university

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President Peter Salovey told the alumni delegates, “We have been bringing pieces of Yale together to create new areas of research and teaching.” (Photo by Michael Marsland)

What does it take to make Yale a truly great research university in the global context? President Peter Salovey posed that question to a crowded Sprague Memorial Hall during his address to delegates of the Association of Yale Alumni (AYA) Assembly. Salovey told the audience that Yale can make the strongest contribution to the world “through educating our students through the scholarship and research that goes on at Yale. And to do that we have to have a very strong faculty and a very strong sense of purpose and mission.”

See related story: Annual alumni assembly celebrates Yale’s strengths in the arts

The theme of this year’s assembly — the first organized under the leadership of the AYA’s new executive director J. Weili Cheng — was “Teaching to Our Strengths: Yale’s Schools of Art, Architecture, Drama, and Music.”

In his talk, Salovey discussed his academic priorities for the next 5 to 10 years, and reviewed some of the initiatives that have taken place since his appointment three years ago. These included: 

Strong leadership team

Salovey noted that eight out of 15 deans are recently appointed, and of those, six are women. Yale’s administration now has 10 vice president-level positions, half of which are also recently appointed. “I am quite confident in the blend of old and new in the leadership team here at Yale,” says Salovey. “The balance is quite good.”

Strong commitment to mission

Working to create a more unified Yale by firming up Yale’s mission statement was another topic that Salovey addressed in his talk. “We have been bringing pieces of Yale together to create new areas of research and teaching,” he said. Some of the examples include the School of Management creating joint degree programs with the Schools of Drama, Public Health, and Forestry & Environmental Studies. “Through these programs we are proliferating not just joint programs but collaboration and interaction,” Salovey explained. “We are doing everything we can to celebrate the research mission and the teaching mission side by side, and we are the research university in the world that is the most committed to teaching.”

Shoring up Yale’s financial positions

Salovey noted that Yale has run a balanced budget with a small surplus for three years in a row, and explained that has been accomplished by numerous initiatives, among them the management of the endowment. “We are in a far greater position now to absorb the ups and down of the market, and to create reserves for initiatives and new projects,” said the President.

Facility projects that are changing the face of the university

Fostering community, collaboration and the interaction of teaching and research are all aspects of Yale’s mission,” said Salovey, and these include numerous building projects that are taking place on campus. He named several:

  • New residential colleges, which will increase the size of Yale College by 15%.
  • New Yale Science Building, which Salovey says will be a “buzz of activity across disciplinary boundaries all happening in a cutting-edge science space.”
  • New Schwarzman Center, which Salovey described as a hub not only for students, but also for faculty, staff, and alumni.
  • Renovations to the Hall of Graduate Studies, which will, according to Salovey, create “collisions between disciplines and will break down silos and walls of disciplines in graduate humanities.”
  • New Adams Center for Musical Arts, where the School of Music and Yale College’s Department of Music will share rehearsal space for musical groups.

“I am very excited about how all of these projects support the mission and vision of a more unified Yale,” said Salovey.

Salovey ended his talk by saying that, even after 35 years at Yale, he wakes up every morning grateful that he was asked to do the job that he does: “I fell in love with this place 35 years ago and have never left. I feel lucky that I have gotten to experience this place in so many different ways, as a student, as an alumnus, as a faculty member, and now as a leader.”

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