Reports of President Salovey’s Webinars

President Salovey’s Webinar, May 16, 2024

Present Peter Salovey began the Webinar discussing the two recent demonstrations at Yale. He stated there were three important principles: freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and freedom for members of the Yale community to move freely about the campus. These were broken twice. On the Beinecke Plaza an area was cordoned off to allow only those with one point of view to enter, which interfered with student activity. It resulted in the arrest of 42 participants. The second protest was smaller with only two arrests. Yale encourages diversification and cherishes different points of view. But protestations must be civil and peaceful, and it is essential that the Yale community be safe. He said he created a committee with a Connecticut Supreme Court Judge and the Yale Campus police to investigate the disturbances and issue a report.

He said there would be a graduation ceremony for the Class of 2024 this year, for those who were prevented by Covid-19 from having a high school graduation; they would not be prevented from attending their Yale Graduation. Since thousands of family members and friends of graduating students would be coming to Yale, and, soon thereafter, thousands of alumni would be returning for reunions, plans and preparations were being made to keep the campus safe.

He announced that Alison Cole had been named Director of the YAA. She is a member of the Yale Class of 1999 and, while an undergraduate, as Captain of the championship Woman’s Lacrosse Team.

Asked about admissions to Yale College, he said there were 57,000 applications for the Class of 2028, an increase of 10% from last year. Of those who Yale accepted, 70% decided to attend, totaling about 1500. For applications from legacy students, that category was considered as one of several for admission. Yale is committed to having a diverse student body. He favored the return of the SAT, absent for four years, in order to better identify qualified candidates from towns or areas who otherwise might have been overlooked. For those admitted from families earning less than $75,000 per year no tuition would be charged and for those from families from earning from $75,000 to the mid $200,000 range, financial assistance would be available. Furthermore, he reported there was no tuition for students in the Music School and in the Drama School and that several substantial gifts were given to the Law School and to the Medical School for student scholarships.

In answering a question concerning the majors of undergraduates, he listed Economics as the most popular followed by Computer Sciences, with History fourth and English sixth. A third of the undergraduates majored in the humanities, a third in social sciences, and a third in science and engineering. He emphasized that the Engineering School has been given high priority so that it could be competitive. Artificial Intelligence did not present a problem to him: teachers he thought would be able to deal with AI engineered papers and theses. It is the development of a teaching tool the way the slide rule gave way to the calculator gave way to the computer.

He emphasized the popularity of Peabody Museum, which has the highest number of student visits in the state. Admission is free, but attendance required a ticket of admission to prevent overcrowding. Several banquets will be held there for reunions.

To a question about the West Campus, Salovey mentioned the many laboratories, the extensive art collection and restoration facilities there with its 1600 employees. Also there is the School of Nursing and the School of Public Health, where initiatives are under way to assist African countries to eradicate poverty and improve the public health.

May 16, 2024

William H. H. Rees,
YAA Representative
Yale College Class of 1956


 

President Salovey’s Webinar, February 20, 2024

President Salovey noted Maytal Saltiel had been named as the University Chaplain, the second female and first Jewish chaplain, who began her career at Yale in 2013 and is well known and highly respected. He then announced Professor David Blight, the Chairman of the Working Group on Yale and slavery, had finished research of slavery at Yale and published his finding: Yale and Slavery. The reviews very positive. While Yale did not own any slaves, 200 of its officials did. Most of Connecticut Hall was built by slaves. Blight’s book is also available for purchase online: https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300273847/yale-and-slavery/.

Asked about his successor, Salovey said he was not involved in the search but that he hoped he/she would continue the current momentum to construct the building for the School of Public Health on the West Campus and the building for the Engineering School on lower Hillhouse Avenue, and complete plans for a new building for School of Drama on Wall Street, to house not only its students but also Yale Rep, and the Yale Dramat, as well as the dramatic clubs of the undergraduate colleges. He praised David Geffen for his gift to enable students to attend the Drama School free of tuition. Also of concern were plans for creating a center to this study Artificial Intelligence, for which faculty members were being recruited, and for the continuation of enhancing Yale’s commitment to studying climate change.

Asked about admissions to Yale College, he said there were 57,000 applications, an increase of 10% from last year, that applications from legacy students were treated the same were the rest, a legacy considered one factor among several others, and that some form of the SAT would be required for admission. Currently, he reported an enormous change in accommodations for students: 25% of juniors and 50% of seniors live off-campus, thus foregoing the benefits of the unique Yale college experience. He hoped there would be a policy allowing only seniors to do so. The administration has tried to enroll off-campus students in a dining room program to encourage collegial behavior, a program that has met with some success. The President emphasized the attempts being made to give Yale students the sense they belonged here, which was especially acute with those who are the first in their family to go to college. Important also is fostering a climate of civility and a passion in a diverse student body for appreciation of different opinions. The result of these efforts has contributed to a reasonably peaceful campus, compared to the turmoil on many others. In answer to a question about undergraduates working in professional laboratories, he answered that hundreds of them were able to do so.

Regarding financial gifts, the policy of maintaining academic freedom at Yale has been made abundantly clear to donors and is explicitly stated in gift agreements. That led him to acknowledge the fact that trust in higher education in general and Ivy League in particular has declined, from being highest rated to the middle, politically attacked from the left for being too elitist and from the right for brainwashing. He hoped that by calling attention to the benefits of academic research that resulted in products like vaccines and cell phones would improve that trust.

He concluded his remarks announcing that the Peabody’s renovation was finished and the results were outstanding: it is the Yale building that attracts the highest number of students from New Haven schools.

February 27, 2024

William H. H. Rees,
YAA Representative
Yale College Class of 1956


 

President Salovey’s Webinar, December 07, 2023

Nearly half of President Salovey’s comments on this Webinar were on the war in the Middle East as he affirmed that keeping the campus safe was an important part of his responsibilities, especially since October 7. Israel, he said, had the right to exist and to defend itself, and he condemned the violence of the Hamas, in which two of his cousins had been killed.. After the increasing national anti-Semitism over the past year, the Yale police were put on notice and increased their presence at possible trouble locations such as the Slifka Center. Not only was the Jewish community at Yale at risk, so too was the Muslim community. He insisted that both free speech and diversity are essential ingredients of a sound education. Differences of opinion are to be protected and must be conducted in a civil and respectful manner. Hateful, harassing speech and prejudicial activity will not be tolerated; those engaging in them would face penalties. The student rallies and protestations that took place recently at Yale were peaceful, probably the result of the work of the advisory group, established year ago, of students and faculty members to promote opportunities for sharing different positions without rancor and for open respectful dialogue. Indeed, when an expert was invited to give lecture, opposing points of view were made available. He further announced that requests by Islamic students for a larger facility for worship and for the appointment of a second Imam were being considered. He hoped that this approach would be a model for other schools.

It was thrilling to hear the President’s report of several exciting endeavors: the facility for the new Quantum Institute, which hopefully will be the foremost in the country, in a building the size of the Yale Bowl to be completed in 2029, the faculty for which is being currently recruited; the new Engineering Buildings that are being built on Lower Hillhouse Avenue; the partnership of Yale with Alexion for the study of neuro-sciences in a new building; the plans for a building for the Geffen School of Drama, for which a fund raising campaign is being created; and in the new building for the School of Public Health on the West Campus. There are renovations underway for the former President’s Office in Woodbridge Hall, but there is a problem of ventilation in the underground floor, and there is no elevator for the various floors. He said he was very proud of the enormous amount of educational space that has been created during his tenure.

Asked about the New York Times article regarding the high number of students receiving the grade of A, he said it was a matter for the Dean of the college. When he was teaching, he said everyone who deserved an A was given an A, and, if no one deserved an A, none were given, and that about 35% of his students received an A, and the next 35% got a B, and the rest received lower grades. He guessed trenchers probably gave more As during the pandemic to avoid adding to the pressure students were experiencing.

Regarding the Supreme Court decision on diversification, he stated some rewording on the application for admission might be necessary. Yale is however committed to a diversified student body in which no applicant gets special treatment, not even athletes, as important as athletics is. He also said that many current students are having difficulty making friends, the apparent result of their addiction to social media, and that attempts are being made to assist them. Help is also available for the 400 students who are the first member of their family to attend a college, many of whom are minority students.

When he retires on June 30, 2024, he will return to teaching psychology at Yale. His advice to his successor would be to avoid distractions and to concentrate on having a vision and attracting a team and providing the resources to achieve that vision.

December 13, 2023

William H. H. Rees,
YAA Representative
Yale College Class of 1956


 

President Salovey’s Webinar, August 18, 2023

I was invited to attend this presentation by President Salovey as representative of our Collage Class to the Yale Alumni Association. What follows is a report of his Webinar a few days before he announced he was resigning as President of the University.

He began by praising the completion of the two million square feet of added space, which included the Schwarzman Center and the Humanities Quadrangle and described plans for Divinity School’s Living Village project, construction of which began this year, to be completed in August 2025. This will be an affordable student facility that will hopefully inspire and teach a community to live in harmony with the earth. It will be an ecologically,\ sustainable structure with a zero-carbon footprint. He also spoke of the plans for new construction of science buildings on lower Hillhouse Avenue.

President Salovey announced a new Graduate School: in addition to the Jackson School for Global Affairs, the Yale School of Public Health would be a separate graduate school located with the Yale Nursing School, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary this year, on the West Campus, where 1600 people are employed.

He announced the establishment of a new commission to report on Yale’s relationship with slavery, including details on the building of Connecticut Hall by slaves and that two outstanding ministers, James Pennington and Alexander Crummell, both were enrolled in the Yale Divinity School in the early 19th Century but were not granted graduate degrees because of their color. They would, however, be honored by Yale in a special ceremony later this year.

He said Yale supported Harvard in the law suit against its affirmative enrollment policies, which the U. S. Supreme Court had ruled unconstitutional. He said that Yale had always supported and will continue to support a diverse student body and that attorneys were studying how under that verdict Yale’s policies could be maintained. In answer to a question of the role of legacy in admissions, He said that legacy was one factor along with many others. An applicant with a legacy would be allowed into the second pool but would not then be guaranteed admission. Indeed, in the 1600 members of the Class of 2027, 20% of the students were from families who have never had a college graduate member.

Artificial Intelligence received attention: a committee has been formed to investigate its ethical ramifications and the methods of incorporating it in educational activities.

In answer to a question on anti-Semitism at Yale, the President said he was aware of its growth nationally, but that there were no such disturbances at Yale. Nevertheless, additional police services have been activated and positioned.

His last subject – money – was not the least in importance: he was proud of Yale’s contributions to the City of New Haven in lieu taxes, which compared very favorably with what other comparative universities were doing, and, likewise, was proud of the 60% of the five billion dollar fundraising campaign that has already been banked.

September 18, 2023
Submitted by William H. H. Rees
YAA Representative, Yale College Class 1956