Yale University played a prominent role in the American fight for democracy, with four graduates signing the Declaration of Independence. Now some Yalies want to bring a more modest revolution to campus by re-introducing an element of democracy for the Yale Board of Trustees, known as the Yale Corporation.
The Yale Daily News reports that nearly 90% of Yale students overwhelmingly voted “yes” to two questions on a referendum. These were: “Should the board of trustees for Yale Corporation consist of democratically elected trustees?” and “Should students, professors, and staff be eligible to vote for candidates for the board of trustees for Yale Corporation?”
It’s the latest backlash against Yale’s May 2021 decision to eliminate a process that had allowed alumni to become candidates for the board if they submitted 4,394 signatures (3% of alumni) on a petition. Now only candidates nominated by the official Alumni Fellow Nominating Committee qualify. A Connecticut lawsuit filed by two alumni accuses Yale of voter suppression and will proceed to trial some time this spring.
The Yale Corporation consists of the president, six trustees elected by alumni, 10 appointed members and two ex-officio members (Connecticut’s governor and lieutenant governor). Even when Yale allowed alumni candidates by petition, the last one to be elected to the board was William Horowitz in 1965—the first Jewish trustee.
Yale is far from alone. Harvard in 2020 limited the number of petition overseers to one-fifth of the board. In 2007 Dartmouth rigged its process by doubling the number of appointed members to stack the board and reduce the influence of any free-thinkers after three had won seats. “It is demoralizing that my alma mater is slamming the door on challenges to a status quo that grows more stale ever day,” says Michael Poliakoff, Yale ’75 and president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.
It seems the wealthier American universities get—Yale’s endowment is $41.4 billion—the less open they are to different voices. At a time when it’s become fashionable to cast any political disagreement as a “threat to democracy,” some of the institutions that trumpet democracy the loudest don’t mind undermining it in their own governance.
Has it become a nasty place where an ideological monoculture is imposed through intimidation?
If so, what can you do about it?
Many people are creating alumni free speech groups. They band together with fellow graduates to bring back a democratic culture of free speech.
I have joined mine: the Cornell Free Speech Alliance. And our group has joined the Alumni Free Speech Alliance, which includes the free speech groups of MIT, Stanford, Princeton, UVA, and many others.
New groups are forming all the time, so if your alma mater doesn’t have one, you can help found one. The Alumni Free Speech Alliance will help you with the steps.
This is a very effective way to do something.
The students at your university aren’t fighting back because they want the approval of professors and peers, and they expect to leave in a few years.
Faculty and administrators aren’t fighting back because their livelihood depends on conforming to the totalitarian mindset.
Alumni can fight back. We are at a place in life where we’re concerned about the world we leave to our children. Maybe you’re wondering how you can educate your child without enmeshing them in this mean-spirited mindset. Maybe your children have already absorbed it. Maybe they resisted and were shunned and denigrated.
Here are some examples of how we get involved on campus.
Ann Coulter was “canceled” at Cornell in November 2022 in a carefully planned way. Administrators haven’t punished the students who disrupted her talk to the point where she had to end it. The Cornell Free Speech Alliance is working with support groups to communicate the seriousness of this situation and negotiate a way to repair it. We are supported by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. Administrators are learning that such behavior is unacceptable to alumni donors. We anticipate a well-attended campus talk for Coulter in the near future!
Cornell owned a copy of the Gettysburg Address, and it had been on display in the library with a bust of Abe Lincoln for decades. One day, it was gone. A courageous Cornell professor noticed and spoke up. The university resisted acknowledging that it had canceled Lincoln due to a complaint. The CornellFSA helped to get the word out, and the bust was restored to its place without comment.
Our group is encouraging the administration to include free speech training during orientation so students can practice this essential skill. It’s a steep climb because students have already had anti-free-speech training for years. The administration hasn’t yet acted on this, but we keep finding new communication channels to pursue this urgent goal.
We have been contacting as many fellow alumni as possible to let them know what is going on. We created an informative website, and we send letters to all the fellow alumni we can find. We methodically reach out to students, faculty, and trustees of the university as well.
Instead of viewing this as a conflict, I like to imagine that students, faculty, and trustees are relieved to see our efforts. If they fear speaking out themselves, they must be glad someone is calling out this erosion of our national culture. They must be glad someone is holding their institution accountable to its educational purpose instead of using it as a training camp for a political war.
We do it with a sense of humor, too! Satire sites have been created at multiple universities, on the model of the Babylon Bee. MIT has the Babbling Beaver, and Cornell has the Babbling Bear.
Winston Churchill once said that an Iron Curtain had descended across Europe. Today, a Whining Curtain has descended upon your university. It’s dangerous to say anything other than the prescribed orthodoxy because someone will whine and demand that you be punished, and administrators will cave into such demands. I hope you will resist.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Virus experts and doctors say a combination of holiday gatherings and the arrival of the XBB.1.5 subvariant is causing more Covid-19 infections, as reflected in rising hospitalization numbers and a recent climb in wastewater virus levels.
Nationally, the XBB.1.5 subvariant represented an estimated 27.5% of cases in the week ending Jan. 7, second to the BQ.1.1 strain, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. XBB.1.5 has already soared to roughly three-quarters of cases in New England and the New York region, the CDC estimated, and has become a fast-rising Covid-19 strain in Europe, too.
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“Our concern is how transmissible it is,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, an infectious-disease epidemiologist and technical lead for the Covid-19 response at the World Health Organization. Researchers are still studying the new subvariant, but there is no indication thus far XBB.1.5 causes worse disease, Dr. Van Kerkhove said.
The CDC’s latest estimate for the national prevalence of XBB.1.5 declined from the 40.5% the agency estimated a week ago. A CDC spokesman said these projections can fluctuate when a new version of the virus is just starting to spread. The agency uses projected estimates in its weekly reports because it takes time to analyze newly sequenced samples.
U.S. health authorities are encouraging people to get Covid-19 vaccine boosters to increase their defenses. Only about 38% of adults age 65 and up—people in this age group represent the vast majority of Covid-19 deaths—have received an updated, bivalent booster shot, CDC data show.
Some epidemiologists and virus experts are hopeful that built-up immunity from both vaccines and prior infections will continue to dull the impact and ward off the kind of extreme, deadly surges seen the past two winter seasons.
Passengers disembarking from international flights this week took anonymous Covid-19 tests for study purposes at New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport.PHOTO: SETH WENIG/ASSOCIATED PRESS
“We really are far enough into the season to say it isn’t going to be nearly as bad as it was the last two winters,” said Dr. David Dowdy, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
XBB.1.5 was first detected in New York state around late October, according to Anne Hahn, a postdoctoral associate at Yale School of Public Health. It is a descendant of the Omicron subvariant XBB, which itself is a combination of two different Omicron subvariants, according to virus experts.
This process, called recombination, occurs when two virus strains infect someone at the same time and mix genetic material, Dr. Hahn and others said. Recombination is pervasive among viruses, including common-cold coronaviruses, as they spread and infect people.
“As long as it continues to spread to other people and find new hosts, there is a risk that a new variant could occur,” said Dr. Amanda Castel, a professor of epidemiology at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University.
Experts said a particular mutation of XBB.1.5 appears to enhance its ability to latch onto cells and transmit from person to person. The variant, like the other Omicron variants before it, might also evade some of the protection people get from vaccines and prior infections, they said.
Covid-19 numbers are trending up the most in the Northeast, where XBB.1.5 is most prevalent. Wastewater readings have mostly been on the upswing there for more than a month, according to tracking firm Biobot Analytics.
Rates of Covid-19-positive patients in hospitals are also highest in the Northeast, an analysis of federal data shows. Nationally, the seven-day average for confirmed Covid-19 cases in hospitals was about 41,300 on Thursday, up about 81% since Thanksgiving. The increase is significantly concentrated among people ages 70 and up.
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XBB.1.5 hasn’t ramped up as much in some parts of the country, and recent Covid-19 trends remain mixed nationwide. Northeast wastewater virus levels, for example, appeared to decline slightly in recent days, Biobot data show. They have also slid in the Midwest while climbing in the South.
Public-health experts say the holiday season also played a role in boosting Covid-19 numbers, because many people were traveling and gathering indoors as the weather turned colder. Boston’s public school district asked all staff and students to temporarily wear masks when they returned to school after the winter break this week.
An offshoot of the Covid-19 Omicron variant is spreading quickly in parts of the U.S., particularly in the Northeast.PHOTO: JUSTIN LANE/SHUTTERSTOCK
Despite the increases, XBB.1.5 doesn’t seem to trigger more severe infections, said Bruce Farber, chief of infectious diseases at Northwell Health, the largest health system in New York. He also said most positive cases in the system are the result of people with other health issues testing positive during routine screening.
“I don’t think there is any evidence at all that it is more virulent,” Dr. Farber said.
Hospital officials also said that, though numbers are rising, this winter hasn’t triggered the same kind of Covid-19 surge that pressured them the prior two winters. Northwell, for example, had 783 Covid-19 cases in its system on Jan. 3, up 44% from a month earlier, but down 51% from the same point last year.
Epidemiologists have cautioned that the continued spread of Covid-19 poses serious risks for vulnerable people, including seniors and people with compromised immune systems, even as the risk of serious illness and death has gone down for the broader population. About2,730 Covid-19-related deaths were reported for the week ended Jan. 4, CDC data show.
Meanwhile, infections and hospitalizations because of RSV have declined, after an aggressive fall surge that put pressure on children’s hospitals and pediatrician’s offices. RSV hospitalizations in particular have dropped sharply since mid-November, according to CDC data.
The CDC also said that influenza appears to be declining in most of the country, though overall infections remain high. Doctors and epidemiologists said that it was too soon to write off the virus this early in the winter.
“We’re still in the middle of a season where we see a lot of respiratory disease, and that is going to continue into spring,” said Dr. Ian Lipkin, director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
A health care worker fills a syringe with Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in a file image. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)
COVID-19 vaccine boosters provided small boosts for people who have recovered from COVID-19, according to a new study.
Measuring the effectiveness of the Moderna and Pfizer boosters against the BA.1 Omicron subvariant, researchers found that a booster upped protection against infection by just 6.1 percent for those who had a documented prior infection or natural immunity.
The effectiveness of a primary series 14 to 149 days after a second dose was pegged as 41 percent for the group. A booster brought the protection to 47.1 percent.
Excluding people with a documented prior infection, the booster increased infection more.
People without documentation of a COVID-19 infection had 27.1 percent protection after a primary series. A booster increased that to 54.1 percent.
“While booster vaccination was associated with additional protection against Omicron BA.1 infection in people without a documented prior infection, it was not found to be associated with additional protection among people with a documented prior infection,” researchers said.
U.S. researchers including Dr. Margaret Lind, an epidemiologist at the Yale School of Public Health, performed the research. They analyzed COVID-19 tests that were entered into the Yale New Haven Health system between Nov. 1, 2021, and April 30, 2020. They compared 11,307 COVID-19 cases, including 672 cases among people who had a documented prior case, to 130,041 controls, including 10,473 with documentation of a prior case.
The paper was published on Dec. 1 by PLOS Medicine. It received funding from the Beatrice Kleinberg Neuwirth Fund and Yale.
Pfizer and Moderna didn’t respond to requests for comment.
The boosters administered during the time period studied have since been replaced by updated versions.
A number of studies have analyzed the protection that people enjoy after recovering from COVID-19 and found that the protection is higher than that conferred by vaccines. Both forms of protection have waned against infection and, to a smaller degree, severe illness, but natural immunity has held up better against both infection and severe disease.
Many people around the world have had at least one COVID-19 infection, according to seropositivity surveys.
COVID-19 cases first began appearing in 2019.
Some scientists promote so-called hybrid immunity, or vaccination despite prior infection. One recent paper found that people with infections prior to Omicron had 44 percent and 81 percent protection against infection and associated hospitalization, respectively, but that the protection was higher among those with one, two, or three doses of a vaccine.
The new study identified poor effectiveness from both a primary series and a booster against infection, particularly among the naturally immune.
Unadjusted effectiveness for a primary series among people without a prior infection was just 13.5 percent less than 14 days after a second dose and negative 28.8 percent 14 to 149 days after the final shot of the primary series. At or more than 150 days following a second dose, the effectiveness was estimated at 5.8 percent.
For people with a prior infection, the figures were 1.3 percent, 5 percent, and 9.2 percent.
Adjusted effectiveness—effectiveness after correcting for factors such as age—determined that effectiveness among the non-naturally immune group peaked at just 27.1 percent and dropped to 13.6 percent. A booster at or after 14 days increased that to 54.1 percent, but boosters quickly wane, other research has shown.
Among those with a documented prior infection, and after adjustments, effectiveness peaked at 41 percent and dropped to 32.1 percent. A booster increased effectiveness to 47.1 percent.
The study is the latest to show that a primary series—two shots—of one of the messenger RNA vaccines, both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, provides little protection against infection and severe illness.
One recent paper, for instance, pegged effectiveness for immunocompetent individuals against hospitalization at just 37 percent following a primary series, including 13 percent for people aged 18 to 49.
A booster increased the shielding to 65 percent, the American researchers said.
For people with compromised immune systems, the shielding was estimated to be 49 percent, increasing to 69 percent after a booster.
Another paper, from U.S. scientists, concluded that a primary series and an updated booster provided 50 percent or lower protection against symptomatic infection.
And a third paper estimated that two doses against infection during the Omicron era provided negative 4 percent protection, with a third dose increasing that to just 31 percent.
“Previous studies have demonstrated little to no protection against omicron infection for two doses and only mild protection against severe outcomes. We also observed minimal protection against omicron infection after one or two doses,” the researchers, based in Thailand, wrote. “We see moderate protection against omicron infection after a third dose (30–40%) and good protection (>70%) after a fourth dose.”
During the 1990s “culture wars,” universities were warned that their chronic tuition hikes above the rate of inflation were unsustainable.
Their growing manipulation of blanket federal student loan guarantees and part-time faculty and graduate teaching assistants always was suicidal.
Left-wing indoctrination; administrative bloat; obsessions with racial preferences; arcane, jargon-filled research; and campus-wide intolerance of diverse thought short-changed students, further alienated the public, and often enraged alumni.
Over the past 30 years, enrollments in the humanities and history crashed. So did tenure-track faculty positions. Some $1.7 trillion in federally backed student loans have only greenlighted inflated tuition—and masked the contagion of political indoctrination and watered-down courses.
But “gradually” imploding has now become “suddenly.” Zoom courses, a declining pool of students, and soaring costs all prompt the public to question the college experience altogether.
Nationwide undergraduate enrollment has dropped by more than 650,000 students in a single year—or over 4 percent alone from spring 2021 to 2022—and some 14 percent in the past decade. Yet the U.S. population still increases by about 2 million people a year.
Men account for about 71 percent of the current shortfall of students. Women number almost 60 percent of all college students—an all-time high.
Monotonous professors hector students about “toxic masculinity” as “gender” studies proliferate. If the plan was to drive males off campus, universities have succeeded beyond their wildest expectations.
The number of history majors has collapsed by 50 percent in just the past 20 years. Tenured history positions have declined by one-third to half at major state universities.
In the past decade alone, English majors across the nation’s universities have fallen by a third.
At Yale University, administrative positions have soared over 150 percent in the past two decades. But the number of professors increased by just 10 percent. In a new low/high, Stanford recently enrolled 16,937 undergraduate and graduate students but lists 15,750 administrative staff—in near one-to-one fashion.
In the past, such costly praetorian bloat would have sparked a faculty rebellion. Not now. The new six-figure salaried “diversity, equity, and inclusion” commissars are feared and exempt from criticism.
Since 2020, the old proportional-representation admissions quotas have expanded into weird “reparatory” admissions. Purported “marginalized populations” have often been admitted at levels greater than percentages in the general population.
Consequently, “problematic” standardized tests are damned as biased and antithetical to “diversity.”
To accommodate radical diversity reengineering, the only demographic deemed expendable is white males. Their plunging numbers on campus, especially from the working class, are now much less than their percentages in the general population—regardless of grades or test scores.
At Yale, the class of 2026 is listed as 50 percent white and 55 percent female. Fourteen percent were admitted as “legacies.” In sum, qualified but poor white males without privilege or connections seem mostly excluded.
Stanford’s published 2025 class profile claims a student body of “23 percent white.” Fewer than half of the class is male. Stanford mysteriously doesn’t release the numbers of those successfully admitted without SAT tests—but recently conceded that it rejects about 70 percent of those with perfect SAT scores.
In fact, universities are quietly junking test score requirements. Ironically, these time-honored standardized tests were originally designed to offer those from underprivileged backgrounds or less competitive high schools a meritocratic pathway into elite schools.
At Cornell, students push for pass/fail courses only and the abolition of all grades. At the New School in New York, students demand that everyone receives “A” grades. Dean’s lists and class and school rankings are equally suspect as counterrevolutionary. Even as courses are watered down, entitled students still assume that their admission must automatically guarantee graduation—or else!
Skeptical American employers, to remain globally competitive, will likely soon administer their own hiring tests. They already suspect that prestigious university degrees are hollow and certify very little.
Traditional colleges will seize the moment and expand by sticking to meritocratic criteria as proof of the competency of their prized graduates.
Private and online venues will also fill a national need to teach Western civilization and humanities courses—by “non-woke” faculty who don’t institutionalize bias.
t, overpriced indoctrination echo chambers, where therapy replaced singular rigor and their tarnished degrees become irrelevant.
How ironic that universities are rushing to erode meritocratic standards—history’s answer to the age-old, pre-civilizational bane of tribal, racial, class, elite, and insider prejudices and bias that eventually ensure poverty and ruin for all.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Victor Davis Hanson is a conservative commentator, classicist, and military historian. He is a professor emeritus of classics at California State University, a senior fellow in classics and military history at Stanford University, a fellow of Hillsdale College, and a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness. Hanson has written 17 books, including “The Western Way of War,” “Fields Without Dreams,” “The Case for Trump,” “The Dying Citizen.”
With the retirement of Jim Monde, Dick Bell is now our Class of 1954 Yale Alumni Association Delegate. Dick’s stimulating report of the recent Assembly and Convocation is found below. Please note: the links througout this report will provide you with more information about the presentations mentioned.
– Dan Strickler, Class Secretary
This year’s Assembly and Convocation, held by the Yale Alumni Association and Yale Alumni Fund on November 10th and 11th, was entitled, “Yale’s Global Initiatives: Impact for Humanity.” Three online programs preceded the actual event. One of these was an update on University affairs by President Peter Salovey, and one was by Dr. David Bercovici, Co-Director of the Yale Center for Natural Carbon Capture, explaining that organization’s role. The third was a YAA procedural.
On the weekend of the Assembly, New Haven’s Omni Hotel was the focal point of activity, Yale’s Sprague Hall the favored lecture site. “Yale’s Global Initiatives: Impact for Humanity” was the ambitious but fitting title of the event. I did not get the registration, but my guess is 200–250.
I confess to a slight touch of skepticism at the outset. This was my first exposure to a YAA event. This is the Alumni Fund as well as the Alumni office, right? It’s all about money. So I listened to the opening awards presentations with a Chamber of Commerce eye and ear. I began to think it was too repetitive and was going on too long. Wrong. A kind of subtle hum of buzz was developing and it dawned on me that this was a silent “WOW” as the geographic reach and extent of the effort and influence of the YAA became apparent. It was a case of quick conversion, capped by the fact that the attractrive young lady sitting next to me was here from the Yale Club of Belgium.
President Salovey’s update included the following: discussion of current fundraising efforts which were more than satisfactory; the need to grow the faculty in response to the recent increase in student population – there are, for instance, 37 present openings in science and engineering; dealing with the grad student request for a Union, which would be easier for Yale were it not for the Union’s concept of management “neutrality” as “prohibiting expression of a point of view,” which is unacceptable (such unions have been recognized elsewhere, e.g. Harvard, MIT); reacting to the widely publicized comments of a U.S. District Judge saying he didn’t want Yale Law School grads because they’re too liberal, a comment criticized by several other judges; more new buildings are on the horizon, with both the Public Health and Drama Schools looking for new homes, and the largest new building yet being considered for Science Hill; and finally, a fourth COVID booster will be required of students.
Yale has made an astonishing commitment to address the major problems of the world in a broad-front, interdisciplinary manner. The umbrella for this effort is Yale’s Planetary Solutions Project. Under this umbrella, the tip of the spear, so far as the greenhouse gas impact on climate change is concerned, is the Yale Center for Natural Carbon Capture, Co-Directed by Dr. David Bercovici, as noted above. Its assignment can be stated simply enough: find ways to (1) draw down the carbon which has been emitted; and (2) reduce future emissions to a safe level. The gravity of this charge is apparent, especially when one reflects on the fact that the goals of the Paris accords of a few years ago, which we disavowed, may already be insufficient.
Dean James A. Levinsohn of the newly minted Jackson School of Global Affairs enthusiastically described his vision for this new endeavor. It will take about 30 students a year, the very best that can be found, from around the world. The interdisciplinary studies at Yale will be bolstered by the services of teaching fellows from the real world of the various subject matters. Jackson will offer degrees to both undergraduates and graduates.
Finally, President Salovey turned to the political disunion of the day, and the fragile standing of Truth in the market place of ideas. There are those in or seeking power who can manipulate alleged facts, or invent them, and dress them into fanciful lies such as the Big lie or the Big Steal. It is the role of a great university to both find and defend truth. It is so that everyone has a right to his or her own opinion on matters of opinion; but not to their own facts. A university should, ordinarily, go further by offering platform, not solely to those in the right, but to the miscreants as well, so they can be heard and judged. After all, the imperative is Lux et Veritas!
Yale Law School and Harvard Law School are pulling out of the U.S. News & World Report law-school ranking that they have dominated for decades, issuing a significant blow to the credibility and power of the high-profile rankings.
The departures stand to disrupt what had become a fairly static and influential list of the nation’s best law schools, and administrators say the moves could help shift how schools make decisions in admissions, financial aid and whether to encourage students to pursue public-interest jobs.
“The U.S. News rankings are profoundly flawed,” Yale Law Dean Heather Gerken said Wednesday morning in announcing the move. “Its approach not only fails to advance the legal profession, but stands squarely in the way of progress.”
Later Wednesday, Harvard Law announced that it was withdrawing from the rankings as well, with its dean, John Manning, saying that the school had been deliberating the move for several months.
“It has become impossible to reconcile our principles and commitments with the methodology and incentives the U.S. News rankings reflect,” he wrote in a message to the school community. He cited many of the same reasons as Ms. Gerken.
He also said a student-debt metric the rankings adopted a few years ago may reward schools that offer generous financial aid, but could also lead schools to admit more well-off students who don’t need to borrow. Harvard held the No. 4 spot in the latest ranking.
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In an emailed statement after Yale’s announcement Wednesday morning, Eric Gertler, executive chairman and CEO of U.S. News & World Report, said the publication’s goal is unchanged.
“As part of our mission, we must continue to ensure that law schools are held accountable for the education they will provide to these students,” he said.
U.S. News went on to issue a point-by-point response to Ms. Gerken’s statement. It said she mischaracterized its rankings and how it collects and uses data, and that by opting out, a school deprives students of the chance to make well-informed decisions.
U.S. News has been ranking colleges and graduate programs since the 1980s, quickly growing into the definitive guide for many college-bound families and students interested in graduate and professional school. For decades, schools have highlighted their placement in promotional materials, and some university leaders even get financial incentives if their schools move up the list.
But behind closed doors, administrators have long criticized the U.S. News rankings for focusing on inputs, such as high test scores, over outcomes, and for accepting schools’ self-reported data without any audit function. Still, many have been wary of walking away, knowing how powerful a top rank can be as a lure for prospective students and for employers looking to hire new talent.
Yale Law School has held the No. 1 spot every year since 1990, and likely won’t want for qualified candidates as a result of its impending absence from the list.
“Dean Gerken has made some very salient points, and like many, we have long been concerned about the U.S. News law school rankings methodology and will be giving this careful thought,” said Stephanie Ashe, a spokeswoman for No. 2-ranked Stanford Law.
Representatives from No. 3-ranked University of Chicago Law School and Columbia Law School, which tied with Harvard at No. 4, declined to comment on whether they might pull out of the rankings.
“If a lot of other schools follow their lead, then the U.S. News rankings and the stranglehold that it has over law schools will disintegrate,” said Russell Korobkin, interim dean at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law. “I don’t think you can find a dean that would be upset to see that happen.”
Schools that don’t already have national brand recognition may be less likely to drop out of the rankings, as they rely on the lists to get noticed by prospective students.
Mr. Korobkin said that because UCLA competes so hard against a handful of other schools that are elite but not in the top tier like Yale and Harvard, “we can’t afford to unilaterally in our part of the market opt out.” However, he said, “I would suspect that we would be very seriously considering it if other schools in our band were to drop out.”
Yale’s Ms. Gerken said she understands the rankings’ pull, but they are useful “only when they follow sound methodology and confine their metrics to what the data can reasonably capture.”
Ms. Gerken said U.S. News appeared to classify graduates as unemployed if they had school-funded fellowships to take jobs in public-interest fields, or if they went on to enroll in a Ph.D. program or other graduate school. She said the ranking also doesn’t give schools credit for having generous loan-forgiveness programs, which can erase students’ debt loads.
About five years ago, she said, she and a group of other law-school deans wrote to implore U.S. News to rethink how it categorizes public-interest fellowships. That outreach didn’t yield any notable change, she said.
“Any dean who creates these risks getting punished in the rankings,” she said of the fellowships. “This is a moment in time for us to really reflect on what our values are.”
U.S. News & World Report said Wednesday that it regularly meets with deans about the rankings “and, where appropriate, incorporates their input into its methodology.”
The publication also said it gives less weight to jobs funded by the schools. “The U.S. News law school rankings are focused on determining whether a school is helping its students obtain positions in the open job market. School-sponsored jobs receive less credit as a result,” they said.
One day in 1976, she and 18 of her Yale women’s crew teammates filed into the office of the school’s director of women’s sports and stripped to reveal the words “Title IX” magic-markered on their bodies.
The point of their nakedness, Gilder says, was, “that’s part of what you do when you take a shower. We couldn’t take care of ourselves in the most basic way.”
The Yale men’s crew team had showers. The women’s team didn’t. That contrast, the women said, violated the federal Title IX legislation enacted four years earlier that barred sex discrimination in education.
Fifty years after the June 23, 1972, passage of the law, the sweatshirt Gilder removed that day is on display at a Title IX exhibit at the New York Historical Society. And Gilder is co-owner, with two other women, of the four-time WNBA champion Seattle Storm—an embodiment of the law’s enduring impact.
Title IX made it illegal to exclude women or girls from any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. It applied to the overwhelming majority of schools and universities, even many private schools, and had sweeping effects, curbing the practice of colleges barring women or limiting their numbers.
The law’s most visible effect was on sports, where schools that had fielded robust slates of boys’ and men’s teams were compelled to create ones for female athletes. Since the law’s passage, the number of girls playing high school sports has increased more than 10-fold, to 3.4 million, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation.
Title IX doesn’t cover professional sports, but Gilder traces a line from the law’s passage to the 26-year-old WNBA, which the legislation made possible. Women’s sports is now at an inflection point, with growth turning into a push for better funding and promotion. Gilder says the next step is securing the financial standing of women’s professional teams.
Since Title IX doesn’t govern pro sports, “that means we have to convince the greater culture that this is of value,” Gilder says. “And that’s shifting how people see the world, how people see women, how people see themselves. I don’t know how it happens, but it’s happening.”
WNBA players, a majority of whom are Black, have long supported off-the-court causes. But the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd in 2020 was a turning point for spectators, Gilder says, because fans sought out teams that reflected their values.
“That’s when, I think, consumers really started to shift,” Gilder says. “Especially young people.”
Seattle Storm fans at a recent game.PHOTO: STEPH CHAMBERS/GETTY IMAGES
TV ratings for the 12-team WNBA are up. Sponsorships have increased. WNBA officials aim to expand the league by one or two teams in the next three years, and are in the midst of market research and talks with interested parties.
The price tag for what would be the WNBA’s first expansion team or teams since the Atlanta Dream in 2008 will be an important barometer of the league’s trajectory. Perhaps even more interesting will be the value of the Storm, the league attendance leader this season with about 10,000 fans per game and home to veteran stars Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart.
“When we bought the team, that’s one of the things we said: Whenever we sell our franchise—and we are not selling in the near future—we were going to sell it and make a profit,” Gilder says. “Not because we’ve got to make money but because that’s the only way to secure the league’s future. Otherwise you’re a hobby.”
Gilder—who founded a family investment firm, Gilder Office For Growth, LLC, and several other businesses and nonprofits—declines to say how much she and her partners paid for the Storm in 2008. Several WNBA teams have been sold for a reported $10 million-$15 million. Gilder notes that those franchises generally were sold hastily or under duress.
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Another critical juncture for WNBA franchise valuations is a couple of years away: the renegotiation of its main broadcast-rights agreement. That deal, with ESPN, runs through 2025 and is worth about $25 million a year, according to published reports. Other content deals including CBS, Prime Video, Facebook and Twitter push the league’s annual media revenue above $35 million.
For the WNBA, as with other leagues, a richer broadcast deal is critical to helping boost franchise values.
Gilder and her partners, businesswomen Dawn Trudeau and Lisa Brummel, are so confident in the Storm’s future that they’re investing more than $60 million in construction of a 50,000-square-foot team practice and office facility. “I’m not doing this for charity,” Gilder says.
Gilder and her partners, businesswomen Dawn Trudeau and Lisa Brummel, are investing more than $60 million in construction of a 50,000-square-foot team practice and office facility.PHOTO: STEPH CHAMBERS/GETTY IMAGES
Although college facilities for women’s teams are now the norm in the era of Title IX, the projects in the works for women’s pro teams, including in the National Women’s Soccer League, are nearly unprecedented.
To Gilder, the private financing for the facilities is evidence of financial faith in women’s leagues and also a reflection that the playing field for pro sports isn’t level.
“That’s all well and good, but when the hell is a women’s team going to get what the Buffalo Bills are getting?” Gilder says of the planned construction of a $1.4 billion stadium with $850 million in public funds. “Ridiculous tax breaks. All over America you have baseball fields, you have indoor arenas where women have been locked out and told, ‘You can’t afford to play here,’ that, I’m sorry, taxpayers paid for.”
Soon after that 1976 protest at Yale, showers were built for the female rowers. In 1984, Gilder and her U.S. teammates rowed to a silver medal at the Los Angeles Olympics.
Without Title IX, Gilder says, the U.S. wouldn’t have Olympic teams on which more women than men are now qualifying for the Games—and winning more medals. It also wouldn’t have the women’s professional leagues it does. What happens next is up to the WNBA’s future owners, its media partners—and its fans.
The year was 2006 and seasons and circumstances had not been kind to the 1954 Whiffenpoofs. We had lost half the group by our mid-60’s, our dear Popo who devoted his life to healing folks in Africa but unfortunately had no interest in alumni singing had just died, our Pitchpipe a long time far removed Boulder resident, only six of us remaining, just one tenor. When the Class of 1954 gathered to mini-reunion in San Francisco that spring, organizers recruited a local singing group headed by Whiff Bill Stone ’52. There were four of our group present and at the close of the evening we four sang Slide Trombone and TheWhiffenpoof Song with them to our great enjoyment. Then the next night after dinner the four of us joined the group two and three deep gathered around the piano to sing the evening away. One thing led to another as we began to seriously discuss the possibility of singing as a group again.
My senior society, one-third its original number, had just recently added two marvelous individuals, Dick Gilder and Charlie Watson, who by the twists of fate missed the first deserved election in 1953. And I thought, we have an ideal situation. First, Yale has always attracted singers and at least three strong groups, Augmented Seven, Duke’s Men and Alley Cats, the last mostly 54’s, had started while we were in school so we likely had lots of “potential Whiffs” still living in our class.
As for audience, there again it was ideal. In 1993 another great classmate, Joel Smilow, funded the renovation of Lapham, now Smilow, Field House, next to Cox Cage and the Bowl, and the Class of 1954 was granted use of its large hall for the big football game, either Harvard or Princeton every year. The party there, pre, during and post-game, has always drawn a crowd. This plus regular mini-reunions meant we would have at least one event every year for people who loved Whiff and Yale songs, especially the old ones.
And last, but not least, we had Russ Reynolds, Class Secretary and one of our second basses, with Debbie, the perfect host and hostess, in back country Greenwich to provide the ideal place to congregate and rehearse each November.
It required a little more discussion by phone and email, but in the succeeding weeks we voted unanimously to move forward, established contact with Whiff Alumni President Dennis Cross (a much appreciated great help), elected a successor Popo, created a mission statement and a songbook, funded a kitty generously and added four members initially in order to sing at the Princeton weekend that November. We met in Greenwich on the Thursday before the football weekend to rehearse, sang Friday night at a table down at Mory’s and then the next afternoon at the Smilow Field House for our class post game party, emerging with an invitation to the next mini in the fall of 2007 in DC. We were on our way. It was just like old times, we were a group again
The re-formed Whiffenpoofs of 1954 were initially just from ‘54 – John Franciscus, Dick Hiers, Charlie Johnson, Jim Monde, honorary member Carl Shedd also now sidelined Chuck Bullock, Harold Star and renowned Dick Gregory and now deceased Obie Clifford, Nick Peay and Buddy Thompson. Early on we made the wise decision to lure current Whiff Alumni President John Burke ’72 to co-direct our singing with Pitchpipe Oak Thorne and then to bring on Jim Doak, Ash Gulliver and Al Atherton from later classes to keep our number between 12 and 14. And in 2014 President Salovey accepted our invitation to become an Honorary Whiff and sings our Song enthusiastically with us each November.
We have performed at least once each year save one since 2006 and for a charity whenever possible, the one exception 2021 due to Covid. Besides reunions and football weekends, we have gathered annually usually for at least five days in Nantucket, Harbor Springs, the Adirondacks, as far away as Puerto Rico. We met to sing together this July for the third time in Islesboro, ME, and plan to perform at the Harvard game this fall.
The one thing we now have that was absent in 1954 – our wives. We soon discovered what a privilege to get to know them and what a great resource and blessing this is for our group. As mentioned above, when we sing together it is like old times, but it is different in a special kind of way. There has always been the fun and the excitement of the performance, but in later years there is now deep appreciation in being part of this group past and present which now even includes dear wives, so many fond memories, so many good people; a humbling realization of what a talent we have been given and must share; a closer bond and appreciation for the people in our audience; and whatever we think of her today, undying thanks to Yale.
‘Universities, he proposed, are failing students and hurting American democracy.’
Aug. 12, 2021 6:30 pm ET
From the Journal’s April 27, 2013, Weekend Interview with historian Donald Kagan, who died Aug. 6 at 89:
For his “farewell lecture” here at Yale . . . the 80-year-old scholar . . . uncorked a biting critique of American higher education.
Universities, he proposed, are failing students and hurting American democracy. . . . He counseled schools to adopt “a common core of studies” in the history, literature and philosophy “of our culture.” . . .
This might once have been called incitement. In 1990, as dean of Yale College, Mr. Kagan argued for the centrality of the study of Western civilization in an “infamous” (his phrase) address to incoming freshmen. A storm followed. He was called a racist—or as the campus daily more politely editorialized, a peddler of “European cultural arrogance.”
To be grateful – To be positive – To be of service