Salovey promises to clarify donation protocols

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The University’s gift policy committee, convened by the president after the Grand Strategy program controversy, recommended tougher policies regarding academic freedom in its May report.


Staff reporter


Robbie Short, Senior Photographer

A year after news broke of alleged pressure from wealthy donors, Yale will soon formally strengthen its language and policies around gift agreements and academic freedom.

The announcement from President Peter Salovey came in response to a May report released by the University’s Donation Policy Committee, which made several recommendations aimed at limiting future instances of donor pressure.

The committee was established in February earlier this year after months of concerns from students, faculty and alumni about history teacher Beverly Gage surprise resigned as director of the Brady-Johnson Grand Strategy program. The reportsubmitted to Salovey in late May, contained his recommendations for oversight of gift policy but did not examine individual donations to the University.

“A system of checks and balances must ensure that normal commitments between donors and the University do not conflict with the fundamental institutional commitment to academic freedom,” the report states.

The committee recommended several mechanisms for faculty to share their concerns about accepting a gift from the University, including the establishment of a faculty review committee or an ad hoc committee of at least three faculty members with academic expertise to investigate a gift complaint and report complaints. anonymously via the university hotline.

In another instance, the committee recommended that language be used in gift agreements with donors limiting the donor’s role in decisions about their gift to the University. The report also mentions the need for a more explicit policy regarding academic freedom, which it says is “little” referenced in the faculty handbook. In general, the committee considered the formal and informal procedures of Yale, as well as other universities.

In his faculty-wide announcement on Sept. 9, Salovey pledged to “implement many of the committee’s recommendations.”

“The committee’s work and your engagement with it underscores the centrality of academic freedom to our community,” Salovey wrote in his statement. “The actions implemented in response to the committee’s recommendations ensure that practices surrounding donations at the university…remain aligned with the institution’s unwavering commitment to free inquiry.”

Salovey explained that the University has added language to the official gift policy to clarify the principles by which gifts can be accepted, as well as plans to hold workshops by the Development Office to help staff and managers. gifts responsible for administering Yale’s gift policy.

The memo also included the incorporation of a clause in relevant gift agreements emphasizing that faculty and staff have the authority to make all decisions regarding the use of a donor’s gift, rather than the donors.

The issue of donor pressure spilled onto campus after Gage alleged that donors Nicholas F. Brady ’52 and Charles B. Johnson ’54 had tried to influence the agenda of the Grand Strategy program and pressured Salovey to install a group of a conservative-biased external advisory board to vet program appointees. The news captured national attention and sparked alarm among Yale academic circles.

Professor Julia Adams, who chaired the Gifts Policy Review Panel, told the News that university giving has long been a complex issue.

The Woodward Report, which was released by the University in 1974, played an important role in defining the University’s role in “discovering and disseminating knowledge,” Adams said. But she also added that the report was “of its time” and primarily focused on freedom of expression.

Today, the University sees an “ever-changing landscape” of financial support and other forms of giving, Adams said. The Committee, she said, is tasked with examining the impact of the gifts on “freedom of inquiry and academic freedom.”

“We close [the report’s preamble] saying that the committee understands that its responsibility is to suggest ways to mitigate, if not prevent, such [donor] transactions to conflict with the general principles by which the university operates – and this refers to all donations, no matter how large or small,” Adams said.

Adams also pointed out that the committee was able to do all of the above “without any extra bureaucracy or bureaucratic positions.” Instead, the committee relied on existing mechanisms in the faculty handbook and clarification of existing institutional principles.

John Gaddis, professor of history and co-founder of the Brady-Johnson program in grand strategy, stressed the importance of clarifying the procedures of the University’s donation policy and putting them in writing. He saw Salovey’s response to the committee’s report as a “good start”.

“[Salovey] seems to have taken [the committee’s] recommendations … seriously,” Gaddis said in an interview with The News. He added that in the statement he saw “strong support for the concept of academic freedom.”

Gaddis said faculty independence from gifts was an issue the Grand Strategy program struggled with. He had previously shared his concern with the News about Gage’s resignation from the program and called on the administration to reaffirm its commitment to academic freedom.

Gaddis stressed that academics are expected to “think independently” and have the power to teach “whatever we think is relevant in our fields.”

“It is deeply important that faculty and staff at universities and liberal arts colleges safeguard the intellectual independence of research and teaching, for that is how the best teaching and learning evolves and how research academic is achieved,” Adams told the News.

Neither the report nor Salovey’s response was officially announced to the students. Instead, Salovey’s response, posted on the president’s office website, included a link to the report.

“The president’s statement has been posted online for all members of the university community to read as soon as it is posted,” university spokeswoman Karen Peart told The News. Peart also mentioned that the gift policy is posted on the provost’s website and is available to all members of the Yale community.

Adams pointed out that while the report was initially directed only at faculty and staff, “these concerns extend to all of … Yale University.”

The Grand Strategy program was founded in 2000.




WILLIAM PORAYOUW




William Porayouw handles international affairs at Yale and is part of the YDN business team. A native of Southern California, he is a freshman at Davenport College majoring in ethics, politics, and economics.

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