Gift supports initiative to help FAS faculty grow as leaders, learners

Window depicting a teacher and students.
"Learning ABCs from the tree of knowledge," a window in the Hall of Graduate Studies.

A major gift from an anonymous donor is launching a pathbreaking  program to provide faculty members in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) with a suite of opportunities to support their growth as scholars, teachers, and university citizens.

Titled “Scholars as Leaders; Scholars as Learners” (SAL2), the initiative builds on Yale’s longstanding commitment to be a national leader in best practices for faculty engagement, according to FAS Dean Tamar Gendler, who announced the five-year program on Feb. 20 in a memo to the FAS faculty. The initiative will allocate nearly half a million dollars each year for faculty development programs, she noted.

Through the SAL2 initiative, FAS faculty will have opportunities to spend a semester away from teaching to attend other FAS classes as students; to learn from their peers through “mini-courses”; to visit other institutions to investigate promising programs there; and to develop sophisticated leadership skills. The initiative also includes funding to support individual faculty coaching and proposals for additional SAL2 programs.

The initiative is part of the FAS commitment “to nourish innovation and excellence, to build collaboration and community within and beyond departments and programs, and to celebrate and sustain the quality and distinction of our faculty,” said Gendler.

Yale’s FAS is a singular place: Our relatively small scale, our permeable boundaries between departments and divisions, our unwavering commitment to faculty leadership, and our consistent devotion to excellence in both research and teaching give rise to community of colleagues who stimulate one another in unusually creative ways,” said Gendler, adding that the opportunities being offered are “designed to recognize and reinforce these distinctive features of the FAS.”

The configuration of the program is carefully designed. “The menu of activities in the SAL2 initiative was developed after a systematic study of best practices from within and beyond the Academy,” she said.

Gendler thanked the donor, a longtime supporter of the university, for providing the funding and vision to create the “Scholars as Leaders; Scholars as Learners” initiative as an important expansion in Yale’s faculty-development efforts.

The new programs for FAS faculty are:

•  Teaching Relief for Learning: This one-semester course release for FAS faculty will allow them to spend a semester as a Yale student taking undergraduate or graduate courses in another FAS department or program. Aimed at mid- and late-career faculty, the program is open to full professors and full-time multi-year senior lecturers/senior lectors II. Between four and six faculty will be selected for the program each year.

•  FAS Faculty Academy Mini-Courses: One-week mini-courses for FAS faculty by FAS faculty will be held during the last two weeks of May, and will be open all FAS faculty. Up to five courses will be offered each year.

Visits for Innovation: Through this program, small groups of faculty can visit peer institutions with successful programs or institutional structures which Yale might seek to emulate. This program is open to all FAS faculty. Up to five group visits will be supported each year.

Faculty Leadership Institute: This year-long faculty leadership training program will help tenured FAS faculty who are serving or have served in a departmental or university leadership role develop leadership skills by participate in a year-long training progam designed to help them gain awareness of the organization and operations of Yale as an institution; think broadly about the role of higher education; understand the financial landscape against which the university operates; develop fundamental leadership skills including working and communicating effectively with colleagues, staff and students within and beyond a department; effectively manage budgets and other resources; foster and inspire a commitment to excellence; and cultivate collaboration and community.

Coaching for Success: Funding will be provided to faculty to secure coaching support to help them achieve a targeted ambition, such as completing a book manuscript; balancing administrative and academic responsibilities; effective management of a laboratory or working group; or developing a media presence. This program is open to all FAS faculty.

FAS “Yes” Fund: This flexible, annual resource fund will allow staff from the FAS Dean’s Office to say “yes” to thoughtful proposals from groups of faculty that support the goals of the “Scholars as Leaders; Scholars as Learners” initiative. This program is open to all FAS faculty.

The first of the Faculty Academy Mini-courses will be offered this May, and applications are now being accepted for the other offerings, which will begin in the fall. The gift also provides funding for a half-time staff person who will oversee implementation of the SAL2 initiative.

These new programs are in addition to current faculty development initiatives, which include the Junior Faculty Manuscript Colloquium, which provides $3000 grants for assistant professors to support an occasion where they will receive high-level professional feedback on their academic work, and workshops through the Center for Teaching and Learning, the Yale University Library, and the Office of Public Affairs and Communications.