All posts by yalie

An Antarctic Explorer’s Mental Journey

Weekend Confidential

Endurance athlete Colin O’Brady was the first person to cross the Antarctic continent alone and unaided—thanks to an epiphany with 77 miles to go

Fifty-three days into his solo trek across Antarctica and 77 miles from his goal, Colin O’Brady was exhausted and starving. Running out of food, he had stretched out his daily rations to keep himself alive. “My ribs were sticking out, my hips were sticking out,” he recalls. “I had frostbite on my hands and cheeks.” It was Christmas Day 2018, and he could barely summon the energy to pack his bags onto the sled he pulled behind him. But then he started and, step by step, something in him shifted: “My mind came alive. I said to myself, ‘What if I don’t stop? What if I just keep going?’”

From that point, Mr. O’Brady, an explorer and endurance athlete with multiple world records to his name, pushed on for 32 hours straight to the end of his 932-mile quest. He beat his rival, British Army Capt. Lou Rudd, by two days to become the first man to complete a crossing of Antarctica alone and unassisted. But the real journey, he says, was an internal one: “Being alone in this stark white landscape, without music, without podcasts, and figuring out where that would take my mind and my soul.”

Mr. O’Brady, 34, had come to Antarctica with the hope of finding and exploring the “flow state”—a psychological term for the immersive focus of athletes who are “in the zone”—that he had experienced in short spurts in earlier endeavors. In the euphoria of his final push, “It was like I was hyper-present every single minute, like those 32 hours lasted weeks in my mind,” he says. “My senses were super heightened. I felt connected to all of the people in my life, which is very bizarre when you’re completely alone, surrounded by nothing but ice.”

By contrast, he points out, tucking into breakfast at a restaurant in Manhattan, we can also be surrounded by millions of people and feel completely alone.

I love to explore the edges of the world.

In his just-published memoir, “The Impossible First: From Fire to Ice—Crossing Antarctica Alone,” Mr. O’Brady also revisits his unlikely route to his adventurous career. In 2007, after graduating from Yale University, where he had been recruited for the swim team, he set off on a yearlong backpacking trip. On a Thai island, a freak accident changed his life. Joining in a common, though perilous, activity on Thai beaches—skipping a flaming jump rope—he got caught in the rope and suffered severe burns on his legs. A doctor at the local hospital told him he’d never walk normally again.

“I was downward-spiraling,” says Mr. O’Brady. “I’d been a lifelong athlete. I thought, ‘Who am I without that?’” His mother urged him to set a goal, so he did—completing a triathlon. Back at his childhood home in Portland, Ore., she pushed him every day to walk a few steps farther. “I look at that as a sliding-doors moment in my life,” he says. “If I had leaned into the negativity, the fear, the diagnosis, it’s really hard to say where my life would have gone. But instead this other door was opened to me.”

His rehabilitation turned into training, and in 2009, he won the Chicago triathlon. Having completed one goal, he set another and another, winning a spot on Team USA at the 2010 World Triathlon Championships. In 2016, he completed the Explorers Grand Slam, a challenge to climb the highest mountain on each of the seven continents and complete expeditions to the North and South Poles—and he did it in world-record time. The string of athletic highs happened “not in spite of the burn accident but actually because of it,” he says. “They’re a continuation of that curiosity—what more am I capable of?” He hopes that his records create a ripple effect, inspiring other people to “take on the seemingly impossible in their own lives.”

Mr. O’Brady about halfway through his trek across Antarctica, on Nov. 28, 2018. Photo: Courtesy Colin O’Brady

What drew Mr. O’Brady to Antarctica, he writes, was “the idea of the blank canvas, of life unfolding with its deep uncertainties and possibilities wrapped up together.” Growing up hiking the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, he was fascinated by stories of explorers and frustrated to be born when so much had already been explored. But trudging across the ice on his mohair-covered skis in Antarctica, he would remind himself that 99% of his steps were on ground that no one had touched before. “I love to explore the edges of the world,” he says.

His previous records were about speed, optimizing feats that others had already accomplished. There was no blueprint, though, for the Antarctic crossing. Those who had attempted it before him had given up or died. The continent posed a “giant math problem”—carry too much food and equipment and the sled would be too heavy; carry too little and he might die. His wife, Jenna Besaw, the organizer behind his exploits, packed and weighed and repacked his gear. On an early night in his trek, when his sled was too heavy and he was crying tears that froze on his face, she ran the numbers and talked him through how much more he could leave behind at a way station. They talked almost every night. “That’s my favorite part of this,” he says. “It’s not a single man’s effort. Not even close.”

If I had leaned into the negativity, the fear, it’s really hard to say where my life would have gone.

He trained with an ex-Navy SEAL, who contrived exercises such as doing planks with his hands in ice buckets and wall-sits with his feet in ice buckets while solving a Lego set. “It seemed crazy at the time,” Mr. O’Brady says, but the ability to concentrate on tying a knot properly, for instance, in the middle of a storm with frozen hands would be key to his survival.

Another crucial bit of preparation: 10-day silent meditation retreats. On the best days of his journey, the empty landscape would start to fill with vivid memories he didn’t know he had, like wandering through a lucid dream. “It was wild,” he says. “All of a sudden I could tap into these moments—for 12 hours pulling my sled, I’d go into these memory palaces. It was like, oh my god, it’s all in there. We all have that!”

On the darker days, though, he began to lose his grip on reality. Not having seen his rival, who started at the same time, since they crossed paths on the sixth day, he began to wonder if Capt. Rudd was a figment of his imagination. “Is Lou real?” he asked his wife on the satellite phone. He became obsessed, too, with the fate of Henry Worsley, an explorer who died attempting the crossing in 2016.

After Mr. O’Brady reached the finish line, a tiny post sticking out of the snow, he waited two days to congratulate Capt. Rudd.

This past Christmas, Mr. O’Brady set another world first—rowing a boat with five other people across Drake Passage, from Cape Horn to Antarctica. “Forty-foot swells, tiny little rowboat, no motor, no sails, never slept more than 60 minutes at a time,” he says, still riding the high of seeing the giant icebergs and jumping penguins as they reached the peninsula. “Anyway,” he shrugs, “that’s a whole other story.”

Write to Elizabeth Winkler at elizabeth.winkler@wsj.com

Danger to our University

          The dangers to our university are non-faculty bureaucracy and student activism.  These are clear and present dangers to the original idea of a University.  Perhaps the first purpose of a university came from Socrates who said, “Never cease from the practice and teaching of philosophy”. But he also disclaimed any involvement in politics and the struggle for power.

          Another problem is that our youth approaching the University lack discipline.  No one doubts the truism that after two years of military service the person was better for it.  High schools which have a universal job program for all for an hour in the morning produce more disciplined students.

          The non-faculty bureaucracy and student activism are pushing for dangerous developments in the university:

  1.  The ascension of narrow ideological fields of study, usually at the expense of study of the great events and ideas of world history.
  2.   The erosion of the due process of the rights of faculty and students.
  3.   Denying the special place America represents with its freedom and justice and the 1st choice of most immigrants.
  4.   Dangerous efforts to regulate permissible limits of classroom discussion.
  5.  Unwelcome ideas are condemned as is “hate speech” by some.

Every needy student activist asserts demands that require expansion of the bureaucracy. The new bureaucracy encourages and facilitates the student agitation.

Example:  The students demand that the name “Calhoun” be changed for one of Yale’s residential buildings because Mr. Calhoun owned slaves at one time. 

       Result:  Under President Salovey a board convinced a study group and agreed to change the name.

        Pres. Salovey announced the creation of a “Name Calling Committee” and a budget of $3 million dollars was included so that a proper consensus could be reached with student approval for their demands.

Opinion:  This spineless “give in” to student demands, produced new student life coordinates, more officers, more diversity deans, more sexual climate professionals, more non-faculty bureaucracy.

A weak leadership will create still another diversity and an inclusion study group to avoid elitism, to force diversity, to improve access to academic programs and alumni networks to outsiders not connected to Yale, to end legacy admission, to increase equal opportunity, and to increase economic and social mobility.

Note:  Most of the above are pet projects of the new head of Yale’s Board, C atherine Hill, who was “let go” from Vassar (President from 2006.  Debt was $172 million.  By 2015 the debt rose to $254 million).

Sometimes the new bureaucrats promote activist causes directly. At a well-known midwestern college the vice president and dean of student life (formerly the college’s special assistant to the president for diversity, equity, and inclusion) was found to have been directly involved in a student effort to libel and injure a local business on fabricated charges of racism!

Thus, this new non-faculty bureaucracy and student activism seek to change education as we knew it.  How did we get there?   Yale’s mission statement before 2016 was; “Yale has as tripartite mission:  to create, preserve, and disseminate knowledge”.  This statement is just about right.  But in 2016 President Salovey announced a new longer statement.  Here are two representative sentences:

          “Yale is committed to IMPROVING the world…. Yale educates aspiring leaders worldwide who serve all sectors of society…”

The focus on knowledge is gone, replaced by leadership, practice and world-improvement.  The shift is from inquiry and deliberation to institution of assertiveness and action.

          Universities do not exist to implement the conclusion of our social, cultural, moral or economic debates.  Maintaining that distinction between inquiry and action has always been crucial to academic freedom.  It is the totalitarian who rejects this distinction, who insists that society may regulate opinion as it regulates action.  The Gestapo or Inquisition are good examples.

          Now the ambitions of our university staff are greater:  the achievement of diversity, inclusion and equity, avoid elitism, restore regulation of the for-profit sector, regulate economic and social mobility, get rid of legacy admissions.

The dreaded Title IX has metastasized into a vast bureaucracy that oversees orientations, investigations and mandatory bystander training, amounting to a re-education which is a new part of the University’s business.  The university is changing from the teaching of philosophy and inquiry to the service of social change.

This cancer begins with the new “professional admissions” departments.  These admissions professionals are not interested in traditional academic criteria but flashier virtues such as “the need for change, activism, leadership, or overcoming adversity”.  In the old days under President Kingman Brewster it was simpler. “Welcome to the privilege of Yale.”   vs.   Now.

                                               Inquiry vs. activism                                                             Speech vs. conduct

              Process of understanding the world vs. impose our will on it.

               Authority with the faculty vs. non-faculty bureaucracies

How do we change it back to where it was?

  1.  The faculty has to wake up.
  2.   Trustees should demand detailed outlines of jobs they offer.
  3.   Alumni should become wiser in their philanthropy and limit gifts  to a year, subject to direction and results.
  4.  Enforce restrictions on charitable gifts.
  5.  Clean up admission process (intellectual virtues over activism)
  6.  Clean out the mass of activism and bureaucracy.

Those who seek to politicize the University to collapse the distinction between educational inquiry and action claim that the old university is a “shield for the privileged” and “justice is paramount”.  These activists have a morose self-loathing of the past and seek to recast our constitution and academic principals into their enlightened power.  It will FAIL.

Our newest arrivals have already voted with their feet.  Immigrants by the hundred thousand at the border are eager to learn and embrace our national traditions. Our university’s purpose was and is to teach students in methods and habits of free inquiry – in deliberation assessment of evidence and the expansion of knowledge.  Universities did NOT exist to implement the conclusion of our social, cultural, moral, or economic debates. -1-

                                                                      John Allen Franciscus

1.  This whole article quotes much and leans heavily on the Remarks of Judge Jose A. Cabranes on the occasion of the 2019 Philip Menall Award by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.  Washington D.C.  

          Also we refer to –  Selection of Articles and Quotes 8 Oct 2019 from Catharine Hill in the Media:  Boilerplate Mag.  18 Jan 200.    New York Time 2016.  Poughkeepsie Journal. 20 July 16.

Yale Alumni Association – 2011 assembly Peter Salovey Leadership Advancing Yale’s Mission.  Belonging at Yale,  Supporting Diversity,  Equity, and inclusion on Campus.

11-21-2019

Yale, Al Sharpton and the Attacks on New York’s Jews

Disdain for the ultra-Orthodox leads the elites to tolerate hatred, which turns into violence.

By Abigail Shrier

Jan. 3, 2020 6:18 pm ET

  • My entering class at Yale Law School in 2002 had one Jew who might be called “ultra-Orthodox.” He traveled some two hours to campus each Monday from Brooklyn, N.Y., and before the weekend, as far as I knew, he headed back. On Fridays when Sabbath came in early and he needed to get home, he could be seen racing white-faced for the exit, one hand pinning a velvet yarmulke to his head, the wheels of his tagalong briefcase crying out.

Yale Law School was about as secular a place as I had ever been—an institution where God seemed not only absent but strangely irrelevant. I sympathized with his need to chase spiritual renewal somewhere else. But the open snickers of our classmates surprised me. They imitated how he raised his hand in class (palm a little too rigid and tilted slightly forward). They joked that it looked like a Nazi salute. They rolled their eyes whenever someone mentioned his name.

In an institution pledged to champion the downtrodden, contempt coalesced happily on his head. Most surprising to me was how readily and wordlessly our classmates seemed to have agreed on their target. How did they know whom to kick around? Their defense of minorities stopped at his feet. So many unspoken rules of communication arranged themselves in a target on his back.

I thought of him this week, and the week before, and for many weeks before that, as the frequency of assaults in the New York area targeting ultra-Orthodox Jews rises from alarming to commonplace. The beatings in Brooklyn; threats hurled at ultra-Orthodox Jews on all manner of public transport; the brick bludgeoning in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood; the machete attack in Monsey, N.Y., north of the city; the shooting in a Jersey City, N.J., supermarket meant for the yeshiva upstairs filled with children.

Videos of the Brooklyn assaults seem borrowed from another time and place: of Jews attempting to mind their own business in black hats and dark suits, beaten by street thugs. The black hats and dark suits, provocation enough. The ghastly silence of the elites—or worse, intimations that the Jews themselves are responsible.

The AP tutted in a tweet that has since been removed: “The expansion of Hasidic communities around New York City has led to predictable civic sparring, but also flare-ups of what some call anti-Semitic rhetoric.” This came days after a madman charged the home of a Hasidic rabbi, hacking at Jewish heads with a machete. NBC New York tweeted from the same script: “With the expansion of Orthodox communities outside NYC has come civic sparring, and some fear the recent violence may be an outgrowth of that conflict.” Some fear . . . what exactly? That the Jews got what they deserved? That the attacks are a logical response to gentrification? Good people on both sides, is it?

This is Bill de Blasio’s New York, but it could just as easily be David Dinkins’s. And perhaps that is why we are seeing this again: the demon of hate, never exorcised, floats freely around. Our sin was to have whitewashed the Crown Heights pogrom of 1991 and lavished its instigator Al Sharpton with respectability.

After a car crash involving a Hasidic driver resulted in the death of Gavin Cato, the 7-year-old son of Guyanese immigrants, Mr. Sharpton led a three-day riot in Crown Heights. He blamed the accident on “diamond merchants,” and his followers chanted, “Kill the Jew.” They did. The Jew they killed was Yankel Rosenbaum, 29, a doctoral candidate from Australia. Nearly 200 more were injured in the melee.

The political and media elites forgave Mr. Sharpton. Democrats called no harm, no foul. The ultra-Orthodox vote Republican anyway. Mr. Sharpton rose to the Democratic debate stage in 2004 and now hosts a show on MSNBC. This year’s Democratic candidates for president have kissed his ring.

And so the ultra-Orthodox Jews find themselves sitting ducks again in a New York hostile or indifferent to their fate. Their values have never been so out of step with the city where they live. They have many children in a time when most Americans have few. Global warming doesn’t rate on their lists of top concerns. They lead traditional lives, directed toward God, and maintain traditional families. They don’t know the meaning of “genderqueer.”

They are, in other words, of increasingly little use to the Democrats in charge of the city, who now withhold law-enforcement protection. Perpetrators of anti-Semitic assaults have been quickly released on bail, or not arrested, or have had their verbal assaults deemed “not a hate crime.”

And this is what Martin Niemöller got wrong in his famous poem we can all recite from memory: “Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” Other people don’t worry that they are next when ultra-Orthodox Jews are beaten each week—because they aren’t. There is no practical, selfish impetus to protect these Jews.

But there is a moral imperative. Because an America that allows its religious minorities to be harassed, assaulted and murdered in the streets is not a free country at all. If religious liberty means anything today, then it must be something we afford those peaceful minorities whose political views have become unfashionable, whose customs appear to be throwbacks, who remind us more of another place and time, where they were hunted and killed in unspeakable numbers. At stake isn’t merely the lives of these Jews, but the soul of a nation that once welcomed and embraced them.

Ms. Shrier is author of “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters,” forthcoming in June.

Please look at this. Don’t hide your head in the sand!!

Sent from my iPhone
On Jan 7, 2020, at 12:16 AM, Trey Reynolds <staglane@gmail.com> wrote:

This is what’s happening In your country!

https://barenakedislam.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/muslim-candidates-2020-1-800x533.jpg
https://barenakedislam.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Screen-Shot-2020-01-05-at-4.05.40-AM.png

Arizona

Mohammad Arif is a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Arizona. Read more about Arif here.

California

Kaisar Ahmed is a candidate for the 3rd District seat on the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors in California. Read more about Ahmed here.

Shahid Buttar is a candidate for Congress in California, District 12. Read more about Buttar here

Ammar Campa-Najjar is a Democratic candidate for Congress in California’s 50th District. *Campa-Najjar claims he is not muslim but his grandfather was a muslim terrorist, therefore I thought he should be added to this list. Read more about Campa-Najjar here.

Florida

Imtiaz Ahmad Mohammad is a Democratic candidate for Congress in Florida District 22.

Altaf Ahmed is a Democratic candidate for Broward County Commission District 1.

Saad Khan, a 27-year-old muslim man, is running for Weston City Commission, Seat 2, in Florida. The Primary Election is on August 25th 2020. Read more here

Georgia

Nabila Islam (Democrat) is a candidate for U.S. House of Representatives in Georgia, District 7.

Illinois

Raees Yawer is a Democratic candidate for Illinois State Senate, District 22.

Rush Darwish is a Democratic candidate for Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House.

Massachusetts

Ihssane leckey, a muslim immigrant from Morocco, is a Democratic candidate for Congress in Massachusetts, District 4. The primary election is on September 15, 2020.

Nichole Mossalam is a Democratic candidate for Massachusetts State Representative of the 35th District.

Michigan

Solomon Rajput, a 27-year-old muslim man, has announced plans to challenge U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell in Michigan’s 12th congressional district. Read more about Rajput here.

Minnesota

Amal Ibrahim is a Democratic candidate Minnesota House of Representatives, District 60A. The Democratic primary election will be held on January 21, 2020.

Mohamed Issa Barre is a Democratic candidate Minnesota House of Representatives, District 60A. The Democratic primary election will be held on January 21, 2020.

Saciido Shaieis a Democratic candidate Minnesota House of Representatives, District 60A. The Democratic primary election will be held on January 21, 2020.

New Jersey

Alp Basaran is a Democratic candidate for New Jersey’s 9th congressional district. Read more about Basaran here.

New York

Badrun Nahar Khan is a Democratic candidate running for Congress in New York, District 14. Read more about Khan here.

Mary Jobaida is a candidate for New York State Assembly in West Queens. 

North Carolina

Nasir Shaikh is a Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in North Carolina’s 4th Congressional District. The Republican primary is on March 3, 2020.

Ohio

Mohamud Jama, a Somali immigrant, is running for Ohio House of Representatives in District 25. Read more here

Texas

Sri Preston Kulkarni is a Democratic candidate for Congress in Texas, District 22. *Kulkarni is not muslim but is associated with CAIR.

External Sender:

At 52, I was accepted to Yale as a freshman. The students I met there surprised me.

My Semester With the Snowflakes By James Hatch

At 52, I was accepted to Yale as a freshman. The students I met there surprised me.

In May of 2019, I was accepted to the Eli Whitney student program at Yale University. At 52, I am the oldest freshman in the class of 2023. Before I was accepted, I didn’t really know what to expect. I had seen the infamous YouTube video of students screaming at a faculty member. I had seen the news stories regarding the admissions scandal and that Yale was included in that unfortunate business. I had also heard the students at Yale referred to as “snowflakes” in various social media dumpsters and occasionally I’d seen references to Ivy League students as snowflakes in a few news sources.

I should give a bit of background information. I was an unimpressive and difficult student in public schools. I joined the military at 17 and spent close to 26 years in the US Navy. I was assigned for 22 of those years to Naval Special Warfare Commands. I went through SEAL training twice, quit the first time and barely made it the second time. I did multiple deployments and was wounded in combat in 2009 on a mission to rescue an American hostage.

Every single day I went to work with much better humans than myself. I was brought to a higher level of existence because the standards were high and one needed to earn their slot, their membership in the unit. This wasn’t a one-time deal. Every time you showed up for work, you needed to prove your worth.

The vetting process is difficult and the percentage of those who try out for special operations units and make it through the screening is very low.

In an odd parallel, I feel, in spite of my short time here, the same about Yale.

After receiving my acceptance email and returning to consciousness, I decided to move to Connecticut and do my best in this new environment. Many people have asked me why I want to attend college at 52, and why at an Ivy League institution like Yale? I could have easily stayed in Virginia and attended a community college close to my home. Well, based on my upbringing in the military, I associated a difficult vetting process with quality and opportunity. I was correct in that guess. More importantly, I simply want to be a better human being. I feel like getting a world-class education at an amazing institution like Yale will help me reach that goal. Are there other places to get a great education? Of course, but I chose Yale.

My first class of the semester was absolutely terrifying. I don’t know if it was for the kids in my class, but it damn sure was for me. It was a literature seminar with the amazing Sterling Professor of Comparative Literature, Professor David Quint. He is an amazing human in that he has dedicated his life to literature, and he knows what he is talking about. The discussion was centered around the Iliad. I had read a bit of the Iliad in the middle part of my military career and decidedly didn’t get it. Listening to Professor Quint demonstrated exactly how much I didn’t “get it.” The other students looked like children to me. Hell, they are children, but when they speak, and some of them speak English as their second language, they sound like very well-spoken adults. My Navy issued graduate degree in cussing wasn’t going to help me out here. These young students had a good grasp of the literature and although they lacked much experience to bounce it off of, they were certainly “all in” on trying to figure out its underlying meaning.

At one point I said, “Hey, I’m just an old guy sitting here with a bunch of smart people, but I think….” And they all smiled, some of them nervously because I was essentially an alien. I was an old dude with tattoos all over his arms and a Dutch Shepherd service dog, brandishing a subdued American flag patch on her harness, sitting next to me. Professor Quint later approached me and said, “Hey, don’t downplay your intelligence. You are smart as well.”

I thought, I’ve got him fooled! Turns out I didn’t fool him at all when I turned in my first paper, but that is another story for another time.

After a few classes, I started to get to know some of my classmates. Each of them is a compelling human who, in spite of their youth, are quite serious about getting things done.

One young woman made a very big impact on me. She approached me after class one day and said, “I am really glad I can be here at Yale and be in class with you. My grandfather came to Yale and when WWII started, he left for the Navy and flew planes in the Pacific theater. After he came home, he came back to Yale, but he couldn’t finish. He locked himself in his room and drank and eventually had to leave, so I feel like I am helping him finish here at Yale and I’m doing it with a veteran, you.”

I was surprised and quite emotional. Exceptionally emotional. She went on: “I can send you a photo of him!” and I told her I would love one. That evening she sent me this photo of her grandfather.

I used to read stories about men like him and they are heroes to me. Clearly her grandfather is a hero to her as well, and she is going to make him quite proud. This connection with a WWII vet through his amazing granddaughter is a gift. One of many I receive on an almost daily basis in this amazing institution. I think it’s worth taking a moment here and acknowledging that this thing we now call “PTSD” has always been around. Some of us veterans escape it while others, like me and likely this gent in the airplane, felt the sting of it.

One day in another lit class, I brought up a book I’d read a long time ago called “Taxi Driver Wisdom” by Risa Mickenberg, Joanne Dugan and Brian Lee Hughes.

After that class a couple of the students approached me and explained that their dads were cabbies when they first came to the United States, and that their fathers had told them that the things they sometimes heard from people in their cabs were amazing.

Think about that for a second. These students are first generation Americans. Their fathers immigrated to this country and started out by being taxi drivers. Now, their children are attending Yale University. I’m a patriotic man and those are the stories that help me understand how, in spite of the seemingly endless stream of negativity surrounding it, the American Dream is still alive and kicking. It makes my heart sing every time I see those kids.

Let me address this “snowflake” thing. According to the Urban Dictionary, a “snowflake” is a “term for someone that thinks they are unique and special, but really are not. It gained popularity after the movie Fight Club from the quote ‘You are not special. You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.’ ”

I hear the term occasionally from buddies of mine who I love. They say things like, “How are things up there with the liberal snowflakes?”

Let me assure you, I have not met one kid who fits that description. None of the kids I’ve met seem to think that they are “special” any more than any other 18–22-year-old. These kids work their assess off. I have asked a couple of them to help me with my writing. One young woman volunteered to help me by proof-reading my “prose” and, for the record, I believe she will be the President someday. I recently listened while one of my closer pals, a kid from Portland, Oregon, talked to me about the beauty of this insane mathematics problem set he is working on. There is a young man in our group who grew up in Alaska working on fishing boats from a young age and who plays the cello. There is an exceptional young woman from Chicago who wrote a piece for the Yale Daily News expressing the importance of public demonstrations in light of a recent police shooting. She and I are polar opposites. I am the “patriarchy” at first glance, and she is a young black woman who is keen on public protests. Not the type of soul I generally find myself in conversation with. We come from different worlds and yet we both read classic works with open hearts and minds.

We recently met with a prominent writer from a think tank who is researching the state of the humanities in the university setting. There were four of us students: two young men, the young woman from Chicago, and me, the old guy. As the younger students started to express their thoughts, the young woman (truly a unicorn of a human) used the word “safe space” and it hit me forcefully. I come from a place where when I hear that term, I roll my eyes into the back of my vacant skull and laugh from the bottom of my potbelly. This time, I was literally in shock. It hit me that what I thought a “safe space” meant, was not accurate. This young woman, the one who used the phrase, isn’t scared of anything. She is a life-force of goodness and strength. She doesn’t need anyone to provide a comfortable environment for her. What she meant by “safe space” was that she was happy to be in an environment where difficult subjects can be discussed openly, without the risk of disrespect or harsh judgment. This works both ways. What I mean is, this young woman was comfortable, in this university setting, wrestling with things like the Aristotelian idea of some humans being born as “natural slaves.” She was quite comfortable in that space. The question was, how comfortable was the 52-year-old white guy in that discussion? Did it make me uncomfortable? Yes. I’m grateful for the discomfort. Thinking about things I don’t understand or have, for most of my life, written off, is a good thing.

Being uncomfortable is KEY in this world of ours. Not altogether different from the world of special operations, where the work needs to be done, regardless of weather or personal feelings. The climate in this educational institution is one where most students understand that there HAS to be a place where people can assault ideas openly and discuss them vigorously and respectfully in order to improve the state of humanity. I’ll call that a “safe space” and I’m glad those places exist.

Here in the “Directed Studies” program, instead of “tuning in” to our favorite self-confirming “news” source, we are given a timeless text with heavy ideas and then we throw them out on the floor and discuss them with people who have, as I mentioned earlier, made these works and their meaning, their vocation.

In my opinion, the real snowflakes are the people who are afraid of that situation. The poor souls who never take the opportunity to discuss ideas in a group of people who will very likely respectfully disagree with them. I challenge any of you hyper-opinionated zealots out there to actually sit down with a group of people who disagree with you and be open to having your mind changed. I’m not talking about submitting your deeply held beliefs to your twitter/facebook/instagram feeds for agreement from those who “follow” you. That unreal “safe space” where the accountability for one’s words is essentially null. I have sure had my mind changed here at Yale. To me there is no dishonor in being wrong and learning. There is dishonor in willful ignorance and there is dishonor in disrespect.

On Veteran’s Day, there was a great scene on Cross Campus. A bunch of American flags had been placed there and I stopped on my morning walk to class and took photos of my dog in front of them and sent them to my friends. Later at some point during the day, a young student placed a glove with red paint on it on one of the flags as she wanted to demonstrate her displeasure with something…I’m not quite sure what.

That same afternoon, some of my fellow students from “Directed Studies,” after a lecture, gave me this:

It is a card thanking me for my service to our nation. I was humbled and amazed.

These hardworking kids are very kind and thoughtful. A far cry from the picture that is often painted of them.

One of my professors, a Professor of Philosophy, told me once “a good leader is a bridge builder.” Professor David Charles is a man who has been teaching bright young people, and some slow and old ones like me, the most difficult subject for me, at Oxford and now Yale. He’s been doing this for over 30 years. He is extremely humble and very kind, in addition to being brilliant. I’m motivated by his words and I want to build bridges and lead, in some small way, a new conversation where we stop pointing out the perceived differences in each other, or this group vs that group, and start pointing out similarities. We don’t need more condescending friction in humanity. We need less. One step in the direction of less societal friction is to seek commonalities. Another step, and one that is sorely needed, is respect.

Now before you think I’m preaching, please know that I come from a place where I was distinctly the opposite of this ideal. I looked for reasons to disregard the opinions of those I didn’t respect. I discounted the ideas of people I felt like hadn’t earned the right to share what was in their mind. Particularly when it came to national security issues, I felt that if you hadn’t taken a gun into combat, I didn’t give a damn what your opinion was.

I’d like to count this as my first brick in attempting to build a bridge between the people here at Yale and those like me before I arrived here. We need everyone who gives a damn about this American experiment to contribute and make it succeed. We humans have much more in common than we have different. Thanks Yale, for helping me to become an aspiring bridge-builder at the age of 52.

In our welcome speech at the beginning of this semester, with all of us Freshman sitting in Woolsey Hall, me sitting next to another veteran, one who’d served in the 82nd Airborne, President Salovey said:

“There is so much we do not know. Let us embrace, together, our humility — our willingness to admit what we have yet to discover. After all, if you knew all the answers, you would not need Yale. And if humanity knew all the answers, the world would not need Yale.”

Now back to that bridge. I need to figure out how to actually build one. Good thing I’ve found a place where I can get help. If this place is peopled by “snowflakes” I’m proudly one of them. I’m a snowflake with a purple heart.

Peace.

Yale faculty agree it has no real political diversity

‘Basically all that diversity means here is skin color’

What happens when a university prioritizes every kind of diversity except in thought?

You get Yale University, where it’s not just the exceedingly few right-of-center professors who are faulting the school for woefully underrepresenting non-leftist viewpoints in faculty hires.

The Yale Daily News has a feature on the perspectives of right-leaning faculty such as David Gelernter (above), but other professors also gave their two cents to The Wall Street Journal in response.

When Gelernter, a renowned computer scientist (in)famous for his skepticism of Darwinian evolutionary theory, estimated the rate of faculty political diversity was “0%,” another faculty member told the Journal “I agree with the calculation”:

A third Yale faculty member, a self-described liberal, says the faculty is “moving further to the left” and has become increasingly intolerant of conservative viewpoints. This faculty member, who also requests anonymity, says that some faculty bias is subconscious: “They think people who agree with them are smarter than people who disagree with them.” This professor adds: “Universities are moving away from the search for truth” in favor of a search for “social justice.”

The Journal compares the criticisms to the “conversation-killing” warnings issued by Anthony Kronman, the former dean of Yale Law School and recent guest author for The College Fix.

MORE: How the assault on American excellence threatens our democracy

“Yale talks a lot of diversity, but basically all that diversity means here is skin color,” history professor Carlos Eire, a Cuban emigre, told the News.  “The liberal point of view is taken to be objective — not an opinion, not a set of beliefs”:

Eire said his political beliefs are the source of faculty whispers, which he said can prevent open dialogue and contribute to a culture of silence. In turn, this leads to alienation that Eire said also weeds out conservative graduate students, resulting in a faculty hiring pool filled with liberal-leaning professors.

It was actually easier to be an open conservative at Yale in the 1990s, according to English professor Mark Oppenheimer, who was an undergraduate then. He thinks “the social cost that one would pay for having certain conservative views is very strong” on campus today, resulting in “a form of censorship” because people don’t want to be socially marginalized.

The News did a survey two years ago that has probably not changed much: three in four Yale faculty self-identified as liberal, 7 percent expressed “conservative leanings,” and “nearly” all opposed the Trump administration.

Yale leaders have not always used their words carefully in explaining the heavy political tilt on campus. The dean of its undergraduate college, Jonathan Holloway, said conservative students might feel unwelcome on campus because they say “stupid” things. (He’s now provost at Northwestern.)

MORE: Famed computer scientist quits believing Darwin’s theories

President Peter Salovey is intent on overcoming Yale’s reputation for ideological monoculture, telling the News the university is “actively seeking to recruit scholars from a range of backgrounds with different perspectives.”

But he’s not looking for right-leaning faculty per se:

According to Salovey, looking for faculty members from different geographical areas and “off the beaten path” universities are some examples of hiring strategies that result in more intellectual diversity. He added that while the Provost’s office oversees hiring ethics and legality, specific departments select candidates, conduct interviews and speak to references.

Salovey said looking for candidates with “unusual” or “iconoclastic” views is one general strategy that can be used in hiring without “relying on a political litmus test.”

He also suggests resurrecting an approach he tried five years ago with a “very hardcore libertarian”: professors with diametrically opposed views co-teaching seminars together. The benefit of the approach was that students “became increasingly comfortable disagreeing with each other” as they saw two opposites having civil disagreements.

Gelernter asks the News why instead of these indirect half-measures, Yale doesn’t just “hire them all” – the right-leaning academics who have “interesting things to say, at any rate.” It has the money to do so, and it would make Yale “the one intellectually serious elite university in the country.”

It would certainly embolden students from the center to the right to speak their views a little more freely. But that’s probably what Yale fears – more open disagreement that leads to more “shrieking girl” moments where petulant snowflakes have public meltdowns.

MORE: Conservative Yale students feel unwelcome for saying ‘stupid’ things?

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Higher Education’s Enemy Within

Higher Education’s Enemy Within

An army of nonfaculty staff push for action and social justice at the expense of free inquiry.

By

José A. Cabranes

Nov. 8, 2019 5:25 pm ET

American higher education seems to be in a permanent state of crisis. Almost monthly, a federal court has occasion to reprimand some college or university for improperly chilling speech, even as some students continue to complain that campuses are too friendly to the wrong kind of speakers. Many institutions have cut back on faculty hiring, even as the cost of tuition grows. Two basic, and mutually reinforcing, phenomena are behind the chaos on campus.

First, colleges and universities have subordinated their historic mission of free inquiry to a new pursuit of social justice. Consider the remarkable evolution of Yale’s mission statement. For decades the university said its purpose was “to create, preserve, and disseminate knowledge.” The language was banal enough, but nevertheless on the money. In 2016, however, Yale’s president announced a new mission statement, which no longer mentions knowledge. Instead, Yale is now officially “committed to improving the world” and educating “aspiring leaders”—not only through research, but also through “practice.”

Second, American colleges and universities have been overwhelmed by a dangerous alliance of academic bureaucrats and student activists committed to imposing the latest social-justice diktats. This alliance has displaced the traditional governors of the university—the faculty. Indeed, nonfaculty administrators and activists are driving some of the most dangerous developments in university life, including the erosion of the due-process rights of faculty and students, efforts to regulate the “permissible limits” of classroom discussion, and the condemnation of unwelcome ideas as “hate speech.”

How did the university lose its way? How did this new alliance of activists and administrators supplant the faculty?

Though there are many factors, they all point back to a far-reaching intellectual confusion that pervades the nation’s campuses, from dorm rooms to classrooms. Too many in higher education are unwilling or unable to maintain a distinction that lies at the core of the liberal democratic project, and at the center of the West’s intellectual tradition: the distinction between inquiry and action, speech and conduct.

At one time, not so long ago, it was obvious that colleges and universities were the embodiment of this distinction, dedicated above all to serious reflection. Their purpose was to instruct students in methods and habits of free inquiry. It was equally clear what universities were not. They were not places to absorb and enforce “correct” answers to our unsettled social, cultural, moral or economic debates.

Maintaining that distinction between inquiry and action has always been crucial to academic freedom. It is difficult, after all, to obtain the truth while you are being bludgeoned into submission.

But today that distinction has been blurred, with nonfaculty administrators doing the blurring. Gone is the approach that I took for granted when I was one such administrator. As the legal adviser to three Yale presidents, I was pleased to think that my job was largely to protect our faculty from undue risks, so that the university could fulfill its core mission as a place of inquiry.

But now the ambitions of university staff are much greater. They seek to achieve diversity, inclusion and equity—defined, ever vaguely, on their terms. And so the nonfaculty staff—who, unlike the faculty, are dedicated to doing rather than deliberating—set the tone on campus.

A similar conceptual confusion has facilitated the rise of today’s student activists.

It may surprise you to learn that the faculty plays almost no role in the admissions process at most universities. Instead, that process has been handed to specialized “admissions departments.” Faculty members who want to be involved in admissions are relegated to toothless advisory committees, where they are lucky to be invited to glimpse the making of the sausage. Admissions “professionals” are less interested in traditional academic criteria, such as scholastic talent and intellectual openness, than they are in flashier virtues such as “activism,” “leadership” or “overcoming adversity.” Students now arrive on campus having been instructed to promote themselves as “social entrepreneurs” or “change makers.” It has become common for applicants to claim to have “founded,” at 17, some shiny-sounding nonprofit devoted to beneficent acts.

The contemporary admissions process thus reflects and advances a transformation of the university from a place of thought to an instrument of social action. Is it any wonder that students go searching for windmills at which to tilt?

As the new species of bureaucrats and student activists have come to dominate the university, they have reshaped it in their image. Wherever possible, they have sought to muddle the distinction between intellectual deliberation and political action—thus making certain thoughts, like certain deeds, into crimes.

What can be done to counteract these baleful developments? We must look to the faculty itself, which can still exercise substantial influence, even if only in self-defense. The faculty, besieged though it is, must reassert its historic centrality in the university and stand ready to protect the search for truth. If it fails to do so, faculty members have only themselves to blame for their disempowerment.

But the faculty needs help. Trustees and alumni have a role to play. Trustees can start by recalling their considerable legal authority. They should demand detailed justifications for each and every deputy deanship and assistant directorship that swells the bureaucratic ranks. Trimming nonfaculty staff positions would require effort, but it wouldn’t be impossible—unlike faculty, these positions lack the protections of tenure.

Alumni must also become wiser in their philanthropy. At big-name institutions, bureaucratic bloat is made possible by immense endowments and endless fundraising campaigns. For too long, the exchange has been simple: Donors provide funds and, in return, they receive recognition—but little influence.

This should come to an end. Donors should decline to provide single-lump gifts. Instead, donors should provide annual support for specific programs—but only as long as certain criteria are met. Of course, donors have no business telling professors what to teach or write. But neither should donors meekly trust that Alma Mater knows best.

Above all, concerned trustees and alumni should not shy away from using all available levers, including financial and political pressure, to reassert the university’s true mission.

If they fail to do so, our country—not just its colleges and universities—will be worse off. For even in this moment, our storied academic institutions still maintain a gravitational force, pulling in eager students from around the country, and, as important, from around the world, to learn in a free and open environment.

Indeed, reinforcements from abroad, attracted by the promise of what America’s institutions—including its colleges and universities—have to offer, may yet ensure that our country remains a source of inspiration and hope.

Judge Cabranes serves on the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He was Yale’s first

Yale and the Purpose of Great Universities

Why is Peter Salovey so obsessed with the origins of Yale’s students rather than their intellectual achievements?

May 2, 2019 3:35 p.m. ET

In his response (Letters, April 29) to Heather Mac Donald’s “At Yale, ‘Diversity’ Means More of the Same” (op-ed, April 24), Yale University President Peter Salovey does a better job at confirming everything Ms. Mac Donald asserts about Yale. Why is Mr. Salovey so obsessed with the origins of Yale’s students rather than their intellectual achievements? Apparently, Yale University, any university, must be a sort of universal pacifier: “Yale engages with contemporary challenges, including racism, discrimination and intolerance in this country and world-wide. Such engagement isn’t ‘bureaucratic bloat:’ it is a university fulfilling its mission.”

This is a very odd view of a university. There are many other institutions whose proper, assigned mission is to “engage with contemporary challenges.” Is the university not different in important ways?

Segregation by Design on Campus

SegHow racial separatism become the norm at elite universities like Yale, Brown and Wesleyan.

By Peter W. Wood and Dion J. Pierre

April 29, 2019 2:58 p.m. ET

In his inaugural address in January 1963, Gov. George Wallace of Alabama thundered: “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever.” About “tomorrow,” Wallace was right. More than half a century later, racial segregation comes as easy as breathing to many American colleges and universities.

Wallace had in mind the exclusion of blacks from white-only institutions. Today’s racial segregation, by contrast, consists of ethnic groups walling themselves off within institutions. In the past two years the National Association of Scholars surveyed 173 colleges and universities, public and private, in all 50 states. We found 46% of schools segregate student orientation programs, 43% segregate residential arrangements, and 72% segregate graduation ceremonies. Though these arrangements are ostensibly voluntary, students can’t easily opt out. The social pressure to conform is overwhelming.

This kind of racial separatism on campus isn’t new. We pursued case studies of Yale, Wesleyan and Brown universities, where we found that black students began to organize exclusive groups with separatist agendas as early as the 1960s.

Begin with Yale, the subject of a 210-page study released by NAS this week. The Black Students Association at Yale, or BSAY, was founded in 1964 as the Yale Discussion Group. Black students started the organization because they felt Yale recruited them merely for show. The accusation may have been unfair but it touched something real.

In 1964 Yale’s newly appointed president, Kingman Brewster, declared an all-out “effort to cure racial injustice.” This meant discarding Yale’s old policy of admitting only highly qualified black students in favor of aggressive outreach to the inner cities. Brewster’s like-minded admissions dean, R. Inslee “Inky” Clark, openly set forth a plan to enroll black students regardless of their test scores or other evidence of academic achievement. Brewster and Clark believed they could turn anyone into a Yale man. (The university didn’t admit female undergraduates until 1969.)

The new zeal to boost numbers brushed aside hard questions about college readiness and cultural adjustment. The results were catastrophic for the students. More than a third of the 35 black students Yale enrolled in 1966 dropped out during their first year, and many others lagged behind academically and felt unwelcome.

To stem the exodus, Yale set up a summer remediation program for black students. It did little to encourage their academic success, but it unexpectedly reshaped relations between black students and the university. The program isolated the black students as a group and gave them a sense of solidarity and shared grievance.

Out of this seedbed sprang BSAY, which was Yale’s first racial identity group. BSAY found its voice by demanding that Yale provide an ever-greater number of accommodations, including separate advisers, a separate orientation, and a separate center in a separate building. BSAY also became the leading advocate for a separate curriculum—the African-American studies program—that entailed hiring new faculty members with appropriate qualifications. A new world began to open up at Yale bearing a strange resemblance to the “separate but equal” arrangements that the Supreme Court had ruled unconstitutional in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education.

Though this happened more than 50 years ago, the pattern set down in the turmoil of the late 1960s continues. BSAY’s goal wasn’t a university where racial difference ceased to matter, but a university that aggrandized race and celebrated separation. Brewster agreed to almost anything activists wanted, apparently hoping a golden age of racial integration would follow.

Instead, BSAY grasped that racial intimidation yields rich rewards. The intimidation expanded beyond BSAY itself to a broader coalition of identity groups. Yale now steers its course with a compass of group rights, with each group asserting its own demand to be compensated for past wrongs. The most famous example is the 2015 mobbing of Prof. Nicholas Christakis over Halloween costumes. Yale President Peter Salovey responded by praising the “affirming and effective forms of protest,” and the trustees soon set aside $50 million to meet protesters’ demands.

Yale is a private institution with abundant resources to deploy as it pleases. But Yale is also one of the templates for American higher education as a whole. Its readiness to appease racial separatists who hold the ideal of racial integration in contempt has become the campus norm.

Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., became one of the first schools to embrace residential segregation when it created the Afro-American House (now called the Malcolm X House) circa 1968. In 1972 Cornell began accepting black students to its Ujamaa Residential College, a 144-resident building for blacks who have “personal knowledge” of the black experience. Other elite schools, such as Columbia University (Pan African House), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Chocolate City), the University of California Berkeley (African American Theme Program), Stanford University (Ujamaa), and Amherst College (Charles Drew House), made similar arrangements. In 2016 the University of Connecticut opened the Scholars House for black male students. The crush of protests across academia in fall 2015 was driven by racial organizations composed of students primed to see themselves not as individuals but as members of persecuted racial groups.

Today’s campus segregation puts people in a racial box. And like other forms of segregation, it has been a major source of tumult in higher education across the decades. Institutions of higher education should stop deliberately balkanizing their student bodies, and work instead to unify them around the common purpose of seeking truth and knowledge.

Mr. Wood is president of the National Association of Scholars. Mr. Pierre is a research associate at the association and primary author of its new report, “Separate But Equal, Again: Neo-Segregation in Higher Education.”

UP CLOSE: Woodbridge loyalists question Salovey’s leadership

By Serena Cho , Yale Daily News April 26, 2109

One afternoon last fall, four of Yale’s most generous alumni joined former University Secretary Sam Chauncey ’57 and Chief Investment Officer David Swensen GRD ’80 for lunch at the Racquet and Tennis Club — an exclusive, all-male social club on Park Avenue. The net worth in the room hovered in the billions.

But the Yale loyalists — which also included Sandy Warner ’68, Nicholas Brady ’52, Vernon Loucks ’57 and Charles Johnson ’54 — had not gathered to reminisce about their bright college years. Instead, the six men convened to discuss concerns about University President Peter Salovey’s leadership and his ability to head Yale’s upcoming capital campaign, the University’s next major fundraising push.

“The general consensus of the people at the meeting was that Peter had shown some real signs of weakness,” Loucks said.

These six alumni have footed the bill for several of Yale’s most ambitious projects and served as right-hand men to previous University presidents. Johnson, the biggest donor in University history, gifted the $250 million that funded the construction of the two newest residential colleges, while Brady, a former secretary of treasury, endowed the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy with Johnson in 2006. Warner, a former chairman of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., is one of the longest-sitting members of the Corporation. Chauncey served as special assistant to former University President Kingman Brewster between 1963 and 1972. Loucks was a senior fellow of the Yale Corporation in the 1980s and 1990s. And Swensen, the University’s highest-paid administrator, is renowned for inventing “the Yale Model,” now the mainstream model used in endowment management worldwide.

In interviews with the News, Loucks, Warner, Johnson and Chauncey described their accounts of the meeting. Swensen did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Brady declined to comment on the private lunch. Salovey also declined to comment on the meeting.

While the group discussed the University’s upcoming major projects, including the creation of the Yale Jackson School of Global Affairs, much of the conversation focused on how Salovey has handled past controversies, such as the 2017 decision to rename Calhoun College. According to Loucks, the discussion centered on whether a change in leadership is necessary, given that Salovey has not articulated a clear vision for Yale.

Johnson told the News that he attended the gathering to discuss candidates for the Yale Corporation. But Loucks and Warner both agreed that such conversations were incidental to the main focus of the meeting.

Warner said he attended the lunch to meet with “longtime friends” and answer their questions about the University’s current affairs. Meeting with alumni to discuss concerns about Yale is “part of an everyday diet for a Corporation member,” he explained. But Chauncey and Loucks both told the News that they had never been to a meeting like the one at the Racquet and Tennis Club, where several of Yale’s biggest names discussed their concerns about University leadership.

According to Loucks, while all six men at the gathering shared similar criticisms of Salovey’s leadership, Warner was “more hesitant” to criticize the president because he is “in a different position and is a sitting member of the Corporation … and has to continue to be a part of that.”

“[The current University administration] does not have a solid vision and that bothered everybody,” Loucks said. “They don’t have a good sense of where they are going and the strength to pull it off, and that’s not a good position to be in when you are going after a lot of money in a new campaign. That’s the job of the president. … [The goal has] never been articulated in a way that ties everything together and says where we are going as a university.”

But the group, which does not have authority over the University leadership, has since paused its considerations.

According to Warner, the six men left the fall meeting without a conclusion on what their next steps should be. When asked whether the Yale Corporation — which has the power to fire a sitting University president — has confidence in Salovey, Warner said last month that “the view of the Corporation has been and continues to be that Peter is our leader.” There is “work to do in some areas,” but the University is “in the process of getting it done,” he added. But Warner declined to specify what those areas of concern are.

According to Loucks, Warner said at the meeting that the Corporation is unlikely “to be supportive of anything that would result in [Salovey’s] ousting.” Still, Loucks said he knows from his private conversations with former and current members of the Corporation that several are concerned about the University administration’s lack of direction and vision. Warner told the News that it takes internal debate to develop one collective view formally espoused by the Corporation.

In an interview with the News last week, Salovey, countering the group’s concerns, said he has been articulating his visions for the University since his inauguration in 2013. But 40 interviews with current and former trustees, deans, administrators, faculty members and alumni underscored the uncertainty surrounding the current administration’s goals for the University.

Now, six years into his presidency, Salovey is preparing to launch his first major fundraising push. But as Salovey embarks on the project that will define his legacy, many members of the University community remain confused about the direction Salovey is steering Yale.

IN LEVIN’S SHADOW

When Yale began searching for a new president in 2012, Salovey was frequently mentioned as then-University President Richard Levin’s most likely successor. He had held almost every senior position in the University administration, including dean of Yale College, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and provost.

While the presidential search that led to Levin’s appointment in 1993 took 10 months, the University appointed Salovey after just 65 days. According to two individuals with knowledge of the situation, Salovey received an offer to be president of Dartmouth College in the midst of Yale’s own search.

“If your top candidate is offered a position elsewhere … of course it’s going to change the Corporation’s view about … what the best strategy is,” former trustee Francisco Cigarroa ’79 — who was a member of the search committee that appointed Salovey — told the News. “But just because somebody else is recruiting a candidate doesn’t mean that we are going to make that candidate our top candidate as well.”

Cigarroa added that Salovey’s commitment to be “really inclusive in developing strategy and making decisions” for the University impressed members of the search committee. Many students and faculty members told the committee that they wanted the next University president to have “emotional intelligence” — a term coined by Salovey himself — Cigarroa explained.

Once Salovey took the helm of the University, many of his early goals echoed those that Levin had already announced. At the freshman address in August 2013 — the first speech he gave as president — Salovey vowed to make Yale more accessible. During his tenure, Levin quintupled the University’s annual financial aid budget, raising it from $24 million to $120 million. Moreover, several of the priorities Salovey laid out in his October 2013 inaugural address — including improving the University’s relationship with New Haven and making Yale “a global and more unified university” — were projects that had defined Levin’s presidency. In the address, Salovey also presented a few new goals, such as increasing research and teachings about Africa as well as encouraging collaboration among units and departments across the Yale community.

Shortly after his inauguration, Salovey also announced “seven critical ambitions” to make Yale more unified, innovative and accessible. The ambitions, bold and imprecise, left much to be said about what Salovey would concretely do to improve the university he had inherited. The goals included making Yale the “most committed to teaching and learning,” “shar[ing] more broadly Yale’s intellectual assets with the world” and diversifying the student body.

Indeed, Salovey’s early goals for the University were broader and more ambiguous than what Levin envisioned in the early days of his presidency. Unlike Salovey, in his inaugural address in October 1993, Levin identified two specific goals: improving Yale’s relationship with New Haven and making Yale a global research university. Levin told the News that many of the projects and investments throughout his presidency were specifically undertaken to advance these two goals.

“[Levin] mastered his own vision for Yale … [and] it seems to me [that] he has left a unique imprint on the face of the University,” history of art professor Mary Miller, who succeeded Salovey as dean of Yale College, said in an interview with the News. “There are the years before Levin and after Levin.”

DIVERGING STRATEGIES

Two years into his presidency, Salovey was in the midst of developing and refining his goals and priorities for Yale. But on the night before Halloween in 2015, an email from Silliman College Associate Master Erika Christakis and an alleged “white girls only” party at a Yale fraternity unleashed a series of racial controversies that catapulted Yale into the national spotlight.

From October 2015 to February 2017 — when the University announced the renaming of Calhoun College — Salovey published at least 13 statements in response to heated discussions about race and free speech on campus.

According to School of Management Dean Ted Snyder, the months Salovey spent debating whether to rename Calhoun exacted an opportunity cost. By focusing on the “issues of the day,” the University missed opportunities to “think about the long-run health of the institution” and develop its academic priorities, Snyder said.

In November 2016, Salovey finally announced that Yale is “in a position to move forward on the strategic academic investments.” In the University-wide statement, he identified faculty excellence, the sciences, arts and humanities and social sciences as priorities for investment and explained that while the descriptions these categories are “of course, not comprehensive,” they are meant to “provide a sense of our overall academic focus … and to serve as a starting point.”

But the approach Salovey took to identify specific areas for investment diverged from that of his predecessors. In fact, Salovey removed much of his own agency in the process by assembling committees of faculty members and administrators — such as the University Science Strategy Committee, University Humanities Committee and University-wide Committee on Data-Intensive Social Science. He then delegated to those committees the task of identifying specific and achievable academic objectives that can be pitched to donors by to those committees.

According to former Vice President for Development Inge Reichenbach — who coordinated the University’s previous capital campaign, Yale Tomorrow — Levin’s strategic planning process “was less formal … and a little bit more direct.” As his capital campaign came around 10 years into his presidency, Levin had a clearer idea of which major projects to pursue, and Levin himself identified areas for investment in consultation with deans, Reichenbach said.

Reichenbach added that it is the University president’s responsibility to “pull all [the committee recommendations and plans] together and articulate how [the smaller-scale projects and initiatives] add up to an overarching vision” for Yale.

Chauncey — a longtime administrator who served as special assistant to former University President Kingman Brewster between 1963 and 1972 and secretary of the Corporation from 1973 to 1982 — agreed that the ways in which former presidents like Brewster, A. Whitney Griswold and Bartlett Giamatti developed academic priorities were “much closer to the Levin model than the Salovey model.” While Salovey’s predecessors also commissioned committees, those committees were tasked with implementing a plan that the president had already decided on, Chauncey explained.

Still, in an interview with the News last week, Salovey said his collaborative approach allows him to make full use of the expertise on Yale’s campus. His strategic planning method — which he described as “both top-down and bottom-up” — will produce achievable and targeted objectives for the University in the next decade, Salovey argued.

He emphasized that leading by force is no longer an effective strategy for running a global research institution and said collaboration is key to running what he admitted to be an already crisis-ridden university. Towards the end of Levin’s presidency, many faculty members criticized him for establishing Yale-NUS College without adequately soliciting their feedback.

“A more collaborative style — yes, it takes longer — but I think it’s necessary,” Salovey said. “At the end of the day, I want everybody to feel like they were heard. … What we are doing … will change the University in the next decade and position it for decades beyond that. We’ve got to get it right. The way to get it right and the way to make sure that the campus is all marching in the same direction is to use a collaborative method.”

A LACK OF DIRECTION

Still, interviews with professional school deans, faculty members and alumni revealed that many members of the University community remain confused about Yale’s direction under Salovey’s leadership.

Political science professor and chair of the humanities program Bryan Garsten told the News that Salovey does not “have a sense of one driving mission” for the University, unlike Levin during his tenure. He added that while it is difficult to get all members of the Yale community behind one vision, it “would be healthy” to articulate the University’s priorities and visions more proactively.

Treasurer of the Class of 1963 Mike Freeland ’63 echoed Garsten’s remarks. He told the News that many alumni feel that the University “is running Salovey, rather than the other way around.” Many alumni members are reluctant to donate to Yale because they think Salovey’s goals are unclear, Freeland explained.

And even in Salovey’s inner circle — the University Cabinet, which includes all professional school deans and functions as a sounding board for the University president — there remains discontent with a lack of clarity in Yale’s strategic institutional direction. Yale Divinity School Dean Greg Sterling said he and several of his decanal colleagues share concerns about the fact that the University lacks an overarching vision. While the University administration has developed an academic plan, it has yet to announce a vision that will connect the constituent parts of that plan together, Sterling explained.

“We have a strategic plan [at the Divinity School] and we live and die by that,” Sterling said. “Some of those are pretty big goals … that would change the school. I don’t think Yale has that as a university right now. I couldn’t tell you what those goals are for Yale University. … Yale needs a vision. I would say certainly among the deans, yes, we are concerned about that.”

He added that while Levin’s “very decisive” leadership style brings faster progress, forcefully driving an agenda can create backlash among administrators and faculty members. Although Salovey’s collaborative approach may leave some wondering about the lack of changes at the University, it builds consensus and moves everybody along together, Sterling said.

“Enterprises with great resources should have aspirations that make the status quo unacceptable,” Snyder said in a statement to the News. “While Yale continues to progress on many fronts, a relevant question is whether these steps have generated excitement, momentum, and an overarching sense of purpose.”

A BATTLE YALE CAN’T WIN

In an interview with the News last week, Salovey said confusion about the direction of the University could, in part, be a result of the “recency effect” — when more recent information is better remembered and thus receives greater weight when forming a judgment.

“They ask themselves, ‘What’s happened in the past few months?’ and say, ‘Well, nothing seems to have changed,’” Salovey explained. “So they wonder whether we are making progress. But all you have to do is walk up the Science Hill and see a big science building getting finished. That’s an enabling project for our science strategy.”

In November, Salovey accepted the University Science Strategy Committee’s recommendations — which identified five “top priority” areas for STEM investment — and announced that Vice Provost for Research Peter Schiffer would lead the implementation of the committee’s findings. In an email to the News on Wednesday, Vice President for Communications Nate Nickerson said Salovey’s biggest accomplishments in science and engineering include renovating the Wright Laboratory, creating the undergraduate neuroscience major and teaching labs at the Sterling Chemistry Laboratory.

Still, many faculty members said there remains a major disjunction between what Salovey has promised and the current state of Yale’s STEM departments. Since November, the University administration has not released further guidelines or updates on how the recommendations of the University Science Strategy Committee report will be carried out. Meanwhile, many faculty members, alumni and administrators have voiced doubts on how Yale will compete against other universities that have traditionally excelled in the sciences, expressing concerns about the ongoing dearth of resources and the lack of clarity in Yale’s plans to enrich its science program.

Sterling, the dean of Yale Divinity School, emphasized that the University must select a few areas in which Yale can excel and clarify how its STEM departments will compete with their counterparts at other institutions. He added that while Yale should strengthen its sciences to remain a world-class institution, the University must also maintain its comparative advantage in the humanities and arts.

Yale Alumni Association delegate and Vice President of the Yale Club of Silicon Valley George Chen ’77, who conducts interviews with Yale applicants for the Yale Alumni Schools Committee, also emphasized the importance of capitalizing on Yale’s strengths. Persuading students who are interested in science and entrepreneurship to choose Yale over universities that have traditionally had a stronger STEM program is not only difficult, but often futile, Chen explained.

“[Yale] seems to be chasing things it cannot win,” Chen said.

Computer science professor Michael Fischer said Yale’s investment in STEM still falls far below what is needed for Yale to remain competitive with its traditional peer institutions. Similarly, mechanical engineering professor Juan de la Mora noted that the number of graduate students in his area of research, fluid dynamics, has greatly decreased due to a lack of resources and funding. Regardless of the intent, University administration seems to be letting research in the field die rather than restructuring the program and increasing support, de la Mora said.

Moreover, the School of Engineering & Applied Science has failed to name a new dean more than two years after the school’s former dean, Kyle Vanderlick, announced her resignation from the post. Unlike other professional school deans, the dean of the SEAS — which is both a school within the University and a division within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences — lacks the authority to independently set the school’s budget. According to FAS Dean Tamar Gendler, while the school made an offer to a candidate in February 2018, the candidate eventually “decided to remain at their home institution, for a range of academic and personal reasons.”

And five out of 10 John C. Malone professorships — which were created in 2011 when business mogul John Malone ’63 donated $50 million to the SEAS — remained empty until earlier this year.

While giving a PowerPoint presentation at a SEAS faculty luncheon Dec. 12, the acting dean of the school, Mitchell Smooke, said that Malone professorships may be taken away, three SEAS faculty members told the News. They added that Smooke instructed faculty members at the meeting to accelerate the search for faculty to fill the endowed professorships and avoid such a situation. Many faculty members inferred that Malone was upset because for almost eight years, the University had failed to recruit faculty members for half of his professorships, the three individuals said. While all three faculty members were present at the luncheon, they requested anonymity to discuss confidential matters discussed at the meeting. Smooke did not respond to request for comment.

“If Salovey’s goal is STEM, why hasn’t he filled all the Malone professorships?” one of the anonymous SEAS professors asked. “If Salovey’s goal is STEM, what are the accomplishments he can speak to after six years?”

In March, computer science professor Holly Rushmeier and physics professor Hui Cao — both of whom were already faculty members at the University — were appointed to the professorships. SEAS departments are currently conducting a search to name three more Malone professors, Salovey said in an interview earlier this year.

Salovey declined to comment on his conversations with a donor, but said “any donor who donates professorships

[gets]

great pleasure out of seeing them filled.” Still, Salovey added that most donors also want their professorships to be reserved for the best candidates and recognize that recruiting leading scholars in the field requires time.

In an interview with the News, Salovey also acknowledged that the University has faced challenges in “strengthening exciting areas of engineering that is already attracting a lot of students.” Yet he also noted that Yale must “pick our shots” to successfully expand the sciences and said administrators and faculty members must have time to mull over their strategic investment plan and “come to a consensus.”

GEARING UP FOR THE CAMPAIGN

As Yale gears up for the next capital campaign — which is likely to launch in 2021 — University administrators have been solidifying relationships with prospective donors and identifying intersections between the University’s needs and donors’ interests, according to Vice President for Development Joan O’Neill.

Salovey has a tough act to follow. In the last capital campaign, the University raised a record $3.88 billion, which many attributed to Levin’s clearly articulated vision.

“We earned their confidence from having succeeded in the early projects, like rebuilding the campus and improving our relationship with New Haven,” Levin explained. “That made it easier to convince people that [Yale] should move on to [its] next priorities. … It fit nicely to go global after having improved our local relations.”

But for Salovey, his campaign also comes on the heels of controversies that have thus far defined his presidency.

The News surveyed all 1,301 individuals listed in the Alumni Leaders Directory — which includes Yale Club officers, class officers, regional directors and reunion chairs — and gathered responses from almost 250 alumni. The survey results suggested that alumni are less willing to donate to Yale compared to the early 2000s. According to the survey, 24.5 percent of the respondents believe that alumni are “unenthusiastic” to donate compared to the 2000s, while 7.5 percent believe that they are “very unenthusiastic.” On the other hand, only 12.9 percent and 5.8 percent of the respondents said alumni are “enthusiastic” and “very enthusiastic” to donate, respectively. The remaining 49.4 percent of alumni said they “don’t know” how enthusiastic alumni are. to donate compared to the 2000’s.

Yale Daily News