March 23, 2000
Dr. Richard C. Levin
Dear President Levin:
It is my pleasure to inform you that at its meeting on March 3, 2000, the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education took the following action with regard to Yale University:
The Commission gives the following reasons for its action.
Continuation of Yale University's accreditation is based upon the Commission's finding that the institution's fulfillment of the Standards for Accreditation is highly commendable in virtually every respect. Moreover, we commend the University for the great seriousness with which it underwent the process of re-accreditation, and for the thoughtfulness and candor of the self-study which it prepared. Yale enjoys very able and effective leadership. We are pleased to acknowledge that, in its many fields of undergraduate, graduate, and professional education, the University has earned a well-deserved international reputation of the highest order, and its extraordinary human and fiscal resources have been marshaled effectively on behalf of continuous efforts to attain an even more impressive level of academic accomplishment; the range of programmatic options now available to students at every level is unusually rich in both breadth and depth. The Commission takes very favorable note, too, of the fact that the University has paid particular attention in the past decade to the acquisition and management of financial resources to support its ambitious long-term plans, as well as to the renewal of its existing physical facilities and the construction of new ones. Moreover, though this is beyond the scope of an institution of higher education as normally construed, the University has made an admirable and effective effort to share its programs and facilities with the larger New Haven community. As Yale University approaches its tercentenary, it does so with a full commitment to its mission of excellence.
Commission policy requires a fifth-year report of all institutions on a decennial evaluation cycle. Its purpose is to provide the Commission an opportunity to appraise the institution's current status in keeping with the policy on Periodic Review. The areas to be given emphasis in Yale University's fifth-year report, along with the information included in all interim reports, are matters related to our standards on Programs and Instruction and Faculty.
The enormous range of programmatic offerings at the University is quite noteworthy, even for a sizeable institution with ample resources, and, although the quality of the programs is unquestionably very high, the 1999 visiting team raised the concern of whether they were not "proliferating," and whether a "higher threshold" for programmatic approval might not "allow resources to be redirected to other areas of need." This question seems particularly pertinent in view of the anticipated strengthening of programs in the sciences, as well as expansion of the facilities in that area. We are confident that the University will carefully consider the resource issue raised by the striking array of academic programs, in keeping with our standard on Programs and Instruction, which specifies that "the institution provides sufficient resources to sustain and improve programs and instruction" (4.2) and that "the institution allocates human, financial, and physical resources on the basis of its academic plans, needs, and objectives" (4.4). The Commission looks forward to learning of its efforts in this regard in the 2004 report.
The Commission recognizes that the quality of undergraduate education at the University is, deservedly, a source of institutional pride, and strongly commends the institution for bolstering this commitment with a presumption that senior faculty will teach undergraduates and for its increasing support of graduate student training in the art of teaching. At the same time, however, the visiting team noted that procedures for providing feedback on the quality of teaching to all levels of faculty have not been fully regularized. Because our standards specify that "The effectiveness of instruction is periodically and systematically assessed using adequate and reliable procedures; the results are used to improve instruction' (4.30), we anticipate hearing in 2004 of further progress the University has made with its efforts to systematically evaluate and enhance teaching.
We applaud the University for its admirable focus on diversifying the faculty and its specific efforts to increase the number of women and racial minorities. We are pleased to note that recent progress on this initiative includes an increase of women faculty in the social sciences, the development of an advisory group for women faculty centered in the provost's office, and the creation of extra positions that are available solely to members of underrepresented groups. Still, because the proportional increases have been perhaps more modest than the institution might have wished, and because our standard on Faculty asks that an institution "[address] its own goals for the achievement of diversity of race, gender, and ethnicity" (5.4), we look forward to learning, through the interim report, of further steps the University has taken to move in this direction.
The Commission is vividly aware that the University has managed to maintain and, in many cases, to augment a faculty of impressive quality and renown, despite a number of years in which the opportunities for hiring new faculty were relatively limited. We are also aware that the rather variable levels of morale axnong junior faculty at the University reported by the visiting team are probably typical for pre-tenure groups at any institution, and virtually unavoidable. Nevertheless, because the perception of prospects seems to be rather grimmer than the reality and because the understanding of the University's system by this cohort is less than fully satisfactory, we encourage the institution to reassure itself that all appropriate measures are being implemented to communicate its policies clearly and apply them evenhandedly and that consideration be given to improving the level of mentoring. As our standard on Faculty declares, "The institution has equitable and broad-based procedures for [the] evaluation [of faculty], in, which its expectations are stated clearly and weighted appropriately for use in the evaluative "process" (5.1 1).
Finally, the scheduling of a comprehensive evaluation in Fall, 2009, is consistent with Commission policy requiring each accredited institution to undergo a comprehensive visit at least once every ten years.
You will note that the Commission has specified no length or term of accreditation. Accreditation is a continuing relationship that is reconsidered when necessary. Thus, while the Commission has indicated the timing of the next comprehensive evaluation, the schedule should not be unduly emphasized because it is subject to change.
The Commission expressed its appreciation for. the self-study prepared by Yale University and for the evaluation submitted by the visiting team. The Commission also welcomed the opportunity to meet with you as well as the team representative, Dr. Paula Burger, during its deliberations.
You are encouraged to share this letter and the team's complete report with all. of the University's constituencies. It is Commission policy also to inform the chairperson of the institution's governing board of action on its accreditation status. In a few days we will be sending a copy of this letter to Mr. Kurt L. Schmoke. The institution is free to release information about the evaluation and the Commission's action to others, in accordance with Commission policy.
The Commission hopes that the evaluation process has contributed to institutional improvement. It appreciates your cooperation in the effort to provide public assurance of the quality of higher education in New England.
If you have any questions about the Commission's action, please contact Charles M. Cook, Director of the Commission.
cc: Mr. Kurt L. Schmoke Visiting Team
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