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Steering Committee Chair:
Richard C. Levin
President, Yale University





Steering Committee
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In the summer of 1998, President Levin convened a committee of senior administrators and advisers to discuss plans for the University's 1999 Reaccreditation. Those assembled included Alison Richard, Provost of the University; Richard Brodhead, Dean of Yale College; Charles Long, Deputy Provost of the University; Joseph Gordon, Deputy Dean of Yale College; and Penelope Laurans, Associate Dean and Assistant to the President.

    The group discussed the ways in which the reaccreditation process as a whole, and the self-study process in particular, might demonstrate the University's fitness for accreditation and be of most specific use to the University at this particular moment. The 1989 Yale Self-Study had given focused attention to Engineering and interdisciplinary programs in the Social Sciences. Because of these special emphases, undergraduate education in Yale College had not been given the sustained and disinterested consideration the group believed it should have at regular intervals. With the president's approval, therefore, the decision was that this self-study should be a compromise between a self-study with emphasis and one without emphasis. Committee members agreed that it should, to the degree possible, present a full and thorough consideration of all standards, with special emphasis given, where appropriate, to Yale College.

    With this as background, this working group advised the president in the nomination of a steering committee, eleven subcommittee chairs, and subcommittee membership drawn from the faculty, Corporation, administration and student body. The number of members involved in this process was purposely large-more than eighty people in all-since the president wished to draw into the process a representative segment of the community.

    In September the president met with the Steering Committee and Chairs, and gave them their charge. Virtually all eleven committees began meeting immediately, drawing on others around the University for information and help. In October 1998, Dr. Charles Cook, the Executive Director of the NEASC, visited Yale and helped the Steering Committee and Chairs refine their approach. In January President Levin received progress reports from the Chairs and met with them to review their work. A closed Web site was developed to allow committee members to view and consider one another's reports. In April, President Gerhard Casper of Stanford University, the Chair of the University's Visiting Team, came to campus and, along with the members of the Steering Committee, met with the Chairs and reviewed some of the major issues identified by the reaccreditation self-study process.

    The first drafts of each committee's report were received in the late spring of 1999 and then reviewed by the president. After revisions were made, this draft was submitted to Dr. Peggy Maki, Associate Director of the NEASC. Her comments and corrections were incorporated into the draft by the Chairs in the late summer of 1999. In September the self-study was reviewed by the Steering Committee. Final changes were made before the self-study was placed on the Web, and sent to the Yale Corporation, which endorsed it at its October meeting.

    Gratitude goes to Patricia Klindienst for her meticulous help in coordinating all technical aspects of the report and for her editing vigilance. Richard Beck of Information Technology Services provided superb computer and Web site expertise. The Yale Reaccreditation Web Site was designed and executed by both Ms. Klindienst and Mr. Beck.


Steering Committee
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Like any institution or society, Yale is a partnership between those who have gone before, those who are here now, and those who are yet to come. As partners in such a society we are the custodians of its character and purposes. As the warden of its treasures we have the opportunity and obligation not just to conserve them but to augment them for the future use of those who will enter into this partnership with us long after we have gone. And participation in such a compact confers a kind of immortality upon us, because it amplifies our energies and accomplishments while it protects them against the erosions of time and the depredations of change.
—Martin Griffin, Dean of Undergraduate Studies 1976-1988

This has been a propitious moment for a Yale self-study. The institutional stability experienced in the past six years has enabled Yale to undertake long-range planning and new initiatives in a number of different areas. As the University nears its Tercentennial year in 2001, it has been timely to stop and consider what has been accomplished and to identify in particular what special challenges lie ahead.

    Undoubtedly the time was ripe for change in many areas. In the faculty, an older generation was retiring, placing particular pressure on the University to seek an equally distinguished younger generation of scholars and teachers. The scarcity of academic positions in many fields meant that graduate education, and the services offered to graduate students during their Yale careers, needed sustained attention. The move towards merit scholarships on the part of some private and flagship state institutions meant that recruiting a superior student body from across the nation and around the world was going to grow ever more challenging. Many of Yale's facilities, built during the 1930s and 1940s, were long overdue for renovation. The advent of the technological age mandated that Yale's administrative systems required reorganizing and updating. Students' expectations for services were taxing offices still yoked to older ways of doing things. The University's growing understanding of its interdependence with New Haven meant that new forms of partnership with the City had to be created and put in place.

    The University has responded to these challenges, and others, with a period of exceptional activity that is visibly captured in the updating of the physical face of the campus. Faculty recruitment has responded to the changing nature of the culture, of academic fields, and of student interests. New benefits and services have been developed for graduate students to enhance their life at the University, their development as scholars and teachers, and their career trajectory. The undergraduate student body has become increasingly diversified, with more than 30 percent of its population from minority groups. A massive rebuilding effort in many of the professional schools, as well as the College, has meant better facilities for study and living. University systems have been revolutionized, with a particular eye towards service to students. An expanded commitment to the City has led to the development of a new Officer of the University-the Vice President for New Haven and State Affairs-and to the development of a sustained and comprehensive set of initiatives to promote economic development and neighborhood revitalization in New Haven.

    When first charging the Chairs of the committees for this self-study, President Levin announced that he wished to use the occasion as a serious opportunity to take stock. He emphasized that he wanted a balanced, thoughtful study-focusing in particular, in those chapters where it was appropriate, on Yale College-that would not only assess the distance Yale had come in the past ten years, but also help set up road signs for the future. To this end, the current self-study has identified a number of issues for attention. Some of these-such as the question about how the University can support the innovative use of information technology by faculty-did not exist ten years ago. Some -such as the issues having to do with space for student organizations-are well understood and agreed on but their solution depends on resources that are not yet available. Still others-such as teacher evaluation-are the knotty, recalcitrant issues that have been around for a long time, discussed and studied by committees, pondered by wise faculty and administrators, and subjected to experiment and re-experiment. For these stubborn issues, the ideal solution does not currently seem to present itself. But the general belief, after this self-study, is that the experience of deliberating about them has helped Yale make headway in clarifying what next steps to take in their regard.

    A full list of the issues identified for discussions in considering the eleven standards would be ponderous to place in this Overview. But among the more important questions on which we reflected were the following:

    In an age where students are increasingly using college to prepare for their working lives, is Yale's emphasis on training the mind rather than on preparing students for a profession still appropriate? Does Yale have a sufficiently well-thought-through process for the recruitment, deployment and support of non-ladder faculty? How should we be reallocating faculty positions in response to emerging fields? Do the advantages of Yale's rigorous appointment procedures outweigh its disadvantages? Are our initiatives for affirmative action in hiring and retaining faculty sufficiently aggressive? Have we found the appropriate balance for our graduate students between educating them to be scholars and educating them to be teachers? How can we better encourage faculty and students to use the range of Yale's extraordinary learning resources in the educational process? Given the extraordinary amount of capital renovation and refreshment taking place, have we made a sufficient commitment to improving the regular management and maintenance of our buildings and facilities? What are the most strategic ways that Yale can leverage its human and other resources in partnership with the City to promote continued improvements and growth in New Haven?

    In the particular area of Programs and Instruction (Standard 4) and Student Services (Standard 6) in Yale College some of the signal questions have been: What really constitutes a major and what role does this play in the education of our students? Do our distributional requirements adequately reflect out commitment to our philosophy of education? Should Yale frame its goals for language in terms of certification of competence rather than the successful completion of a required number of courses? How well can technology supplement or even substitute for traditional education? Are there ways in which we might enhance the teaching of writing? What are the ways in which we might improve the advising of first-year students? Are there reasons for us to undertake a review of the Advanced Placement Program? Given the remarkable level of extracurricular activity, how best should we address the problem of space for student organizations? Are our processes adequate for considering the complex issues concerned with undergraduate housing? Have we identified adequate solutions for addressing the problem of undergraduate alcohol issues?

    The eleven committees of Yale's 1999 Reaccreditation Self-Study, with the help of the Steering Committee, have found engaging these issues provocative and profitable. We now look forward to the fresh perspective on them that President Casper of Stanford University, and our colleagues on the Visiting Team from schools across the nation, can provide. With their help, Yale can take satisfaction in having completed this process in a thorough and useful way, and can use the lessons it has learned to move forward into its fourth century.

LINKS TO STANDARDS:      |  S1  |  S2  |  S3  |  S4  |  S5  |  S6  |  S7  |  S8  |  S9  |  S10  |  S11  | 
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Steering Committee
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We would appreciate your assistance to the Yale Reaccreditation Committee by filling out this response form.

We would enjoy knowing who you are, and may wish to contact you for further dialog on your observations. However, this information is NOT REQUIRED.

If you would prefer to respond via US POST OFFICE Mail, the committee would be most grateful to receive your comments. Please send them to

Patricia Klindienst
Office of the President
149 Elm Street
New Haven, CT 06520-9998
Please indicate which of these pages you are specifically responding to, and understand that a copy of your comments will be sent to the Chair/CoChairs of the Committees on whose pages you are commenting.

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This page was created by PK on 05/20/1999; last modified on 10/07/1999.
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