Reports of President Salovey’s Webinars

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