I fear I have been blinded for a period of years by my institutional affection and great memories from noticing what appear to be some disturbing long-term trends at Yale. The much-publicized recent campus culture issue involving hate speech vs. freedom of speech and similar matters of a quasi-political nature are only marginally related, if at all, to these concerns.
Pasted below (shaded area) is a piece put together last year by Yale Alumni For Excellence, using credible publicly-available sources. It summarizes some alarming statistics indicating a degree of deterioration in the quality of Yale’s educational mission; simply stated Yale is lagging behind its peer institutions.
Responsibility for Yale’s educational mission is vested in the board of the Corporation and there are six Alumni Fellows, one elected each year for a six year term. In theory these Fellows represent Yale’s alumni.
However, this election process is structured to preserve the status quo. The Corporation selects two candidates each year for alumni to vote on, but there is no disclosure as to how these candidates were chosen, where they stand on issues important to Yale, or what they hope to accomplish.
The process for alumni to put their own candidate on the ballot is torturous. By getting signatures from 4,400 alums from now until October 1, 2020, a candidate will then be on the ballot for Alumni Fellow in May 2021.
Victor Ashe ’67, is seeking the position of Alumni Fellow through this petition process. Among other things, he has pledged to work to make this whole process and the actions of the Yale Corporation more transparent.
You can see Victor’s impressive background and learn more about these issues at his website: www.asheforyale.com.
A networking campaign has been organized to help Victor collect the signatures he needs between now and October 1, 2020. As a member of the network, I would like your support. You can sign the petition easily online here (or download the form provided there, sign it and mail it).
If you are as concerned as I have become about these trends at our beloved alma mater, please also consider volunteering to help Victor overcome the unfair petition process. Details and signup form are on his website here.
Please consider active participation in this important, perhaps watershed, campaign.
ALUMNI FOR EXCELLENCE AT YALE
Recent activities at Yale raise serious questions about the University’s future. It seems that not a month goes by without yet another negative report. As alumni, it gives us no pleasure to discuss these developments, but they are impossible to ignore. The uncomfortable truth is that Yale is falling behind its peers in many areas.
- The 2019 FAS Senate Research and Scholarly Excellence Report revealed that “69 percent of tenured faculty members said they do not believe that their respective department ranks within the top five in their respective fields among institutions of higher education” and “just 1 .8% said their department was the clear leader in its field.”
- Faculty salaries lag behind peer institutions by 13%.
- According to the FAS Senate, the administration has ignored these concerns.
- Yale is the undisputed Ivy League heavyweight champion of bureaucracy, with 81 .8 bureaucrats per 1 1000 students (compared to, for example, 45.2 per 1 ,000 students at Harvard). In fact, Yale seems to be closing in on the national championship of bureaucracy: Out of 1 ,622 colleges and universities surveyed by The Chronicle of Higher Education, only four had more bureaucrats per student than Yale.
- From 1 995-96 to 201 6-1 7, Yale’s managerial and professional staff increased by 77.25%, compared to a 10.44% increase in service and maintenance staff.
- Despite this vast bureaucracy, Yale was caught up in the recent national bribery scandal in admissions, indicating an embarrassing failure of oversight.
- Yale’s alumni giving rate of 28.3% is lower than Stanford’s, lower than MIT’s, and lower than all but one of its Ivy League peers. (Yale Daily News, citing U.S. News & World Report)
- In a recent survey of alumni leaders, 63% of those who expressed an opinion said that alumni have become less enthusiastic about donating to Yale in recent years.
- Yale seems increasingly hostile to freedom of speech, to unfettered inquiry, and to heterodox opinions.
- Yale’s free speech policy, articulated in the Woodward Report in 1 975, is first rate. But principles matter when they are tested, and the Woodward Report now seems to be a hollow promise. Following the embarrassments of 201 5, Yale hardly seems committed to “the right to think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable.”
- According to the Yale Daily News, 75% of students “believe Yale does not provide a welcoming environment for conservative students to share their opinions on political issues.”
- The cost of tuition, room, and board has soared to $72,100, more than doubling in less than twenty years and far outpacing inflation.
Where did this money go, if not to the University’s core academic mission? As other commitments consume ever larger amounts of the budget, investments in faculty, students, and academic pursuits are paying the price. This trajectory is unsustainable and a new direction is necessary.