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While I am in favor of Yale’s involvement in international affairs, Mark Alden Branch’s article on the new Yale Center for the Study of Globalization (“A More Global Yale,” Nov.) has raised many doubts in my mind about objectivity in Yale’s teaching about foreign countries. In the last ten years, U.S. foreign policy has been disastrous: from killing Panamanian citizens to extract their elected head of government who cooperated with the CIA for years, to funding Colombians to kill each other, to supporting a Muslim fundamentalist in Bosnia and destroying Serbian infrastructure and international navigation on the Danube, and now carpet-bombing Afghanistan. Where will it end?
Many Americans believe that the United States. has helped people and countries around the world, which is true. But as a naturalized U.S. citizen, I feel the pain of imposing human rights standards on foreign countries when these standards do not apply to Americans.
The Western world has to fight terrorism. But we have to win by involving ourselves in the emotions and cultures of the non-Western world.
Bring Back ROTC
I believe that Yale should reinstitute an ROTC program in order to uphold its famous commitment to public service and to the development of moral responsibility in students (“Light & Verity,” Feb.).
Today, the world and its inhabitants, including the Yale faculty and students, are notably different in spirit and temperament from those of the late 1960s, when Yale banned the ROTC program. In the throes of the Vietnam War, understandably many students (who were later to become teachers and other productive members of society) voiced anti-war and anti-ROTC rhetoric because of the unwarranted involvement of the United States in Vietnam.
But 40 years later, it is a more dangerous world. There is a need for ROTC at Yale, particularly after the recent terrorist attacks, fueled by an ideology which sees the United States and Western culture as its mortal enemy. Our country needs highly qualified, motivated, and well-educated individuals to serve our government at a level commensurate with their academic achievement and to combat those who twist and pervert ideology in order to further their own agendas. Our country needs talented individuals such as those at Yale to learn Arabic and other Eastern languages in order to defend against those like Osama bin Laden who erroneously distort Islamic teaching to attack Western civilization.
Yale should not expect other people to carry the burden of defending the country while Yale students do nothing in defense of the United States. Yale should reinstate the ROTC program as part of a proactive strategy to combat these evils.
The Trustee’s Role
In 1971, when I became Secretary of the University, one of the first things I did was to establish the first office of community relations. In addition, I also had the administrative responsibility for the Yale Corporation and its activities. So I have some understanding of both the issues of New Haven-Yale relations and what makes a good trustee.
The Reverend W. David Lee '93MDiv has submitted petitions so that he can run in the election for an Alumni/ae Fellow seat on the Yale Corporation (“Light & Verity,” Nov.). There are 17 members of the Yale Corporation: the President, who presides; ten successor Fellows, who are self-perpetuating; and the six Alumni/ae Fellows, one elected each year by the vote of graduates of all the schools at Yale.
I shall urge my fellow alumni to vote against the Reverend Dr. Lee. I do so because I understand he has stated that he wishes (a) to represent the interests of the New Haven community, and (b) to see that more groups are represented on the Yale Corporation.
The Yale Corporation is a board of trustees. A trustee is one to whom something is entrusted. In this case, what is entrusted to these 17 individuals is all that is Yale: its buildings, its endowment, its books, the intellectual freedom it espouses, its history, and, most important, its future.
Let us suppose for a moment that each of the Fellows of the Corporation represented an interest: libraries, football, the employee unions, the alumni, intellectual freedom, the New Haven community, conservatism, the Music School, maintaining the buildings, the art galleries, Yale history, the students, women’s sports, the PhD programs, the School of Management, the Peabody Museum, and the School of Drama—that’s 17. Who then will represent Yale College? And so on.
And if these trustees were to see to it that Yale’s resources go to the area they represent, who will see to it that there are funds in the future for financial aid? Who will support the new programs that every university must have to be current? A governing body that is made up of interest groups seldom takes care of the whole and often forgets the future.
In thinking about who will make a good trustee, it is essential that those who choose or vote seek out individuals who understand that being a trustee means that one does not represent any particular interest group. Being a good trustee means applying one’s wisdom to the complex decisions involved in allocating Yale’s resources, while taking into account all the interests, as well as Yale’s past, present, and future. It means managing Yale’s endowment so that it will be as splendid tomorrow as it is today. It means protecting the intellectual strength of one of the world’s greatest universities. It does not mean fighting to see that one segment of Yale gets more than another.
The Corporation should remain one step above and away from the day-to-day activities. Any group should be allowed to plead its cause through the administration or in person, but, in the end, the Corporation must be able to sit alone in judgment as to what is best for Yale as a whole.
I find it unusual that the Reverend Dr. Lee believes that if he wins the plurality of votes from the Yale graduate body (most of whom do not live in New Haven) that he may then represent New Haven. The elected mayor and the board of aldermen represent New Haven. They, individually and collectively, meet with officials of Yale, and occasionally with the Corporation, to present the interests of New Haven. In addition, the newspapers report that the Reverend Dr. Lee has accepted funds from the labor unions at Yale for this his campaign, thus obligating himself to them.
In my experience, no graduate of Yale who has been elected an Alumni/ae Fellow has imagined that he or she represents a class or a segment of the graduate body or anyone else. Rather, they have believed that they are expected to bring their wisdom and experience to solving Yale’s problems and to directing its future. One need only think most recently of a man like Theodore Shen '66, who was elected last spring and is a man of extraordinary wisdom and common sense; or, in the past, of a woman like Marian Wright Edelman '63LLB, whose vision for all people was and is extraordinary; or of a man like the late Senator John Chafee '44, who was renowned for putting the interests of his country above the interest of his state or his party.
If the Corporation becomes nothing but a group of representatives of special interest, it will certainly fail to do what is best for the whole of Yale.
Because the Reverend Dr. Lee seems so lacking in understanding what trusteeship is, I do not believe he deserves to be a trustee of Yale.
The Divinity Doctorate
In Matthew Holden Lewis’s article, “Belief, Bricks and Beyond” (Nov.), the author avers that “YDS used to grant PhDs.” This was never the case. Prior to 1963, PhDs in religious studies were granted by the Graduate School through the Graduate Faculty of Religion. That latter group was composed both of Divinity School and of Yale College faculty. Some of the latter also taught at the Divinity School. The department of religious studies at Yale College was originally organized solely as an undergraduate department. By 1963, that arrangement didn’t sit well with the department, led then by Julian Hart, and so the Graduate Faculty of Religion was wiped out and a number of Yale’s finest theologians were removed from the PhD program in religious studies. The department wanted parity with other University departments. The change was not well handled by the University administration, although graduate students who entered under the Graduate Faculty were permitted to complete their degrees.
I know this history personally. I lived through it with the full support of Jaroslav Pelikan, who was director of graduate studies at the beginning of the new arrangement. I earned a PhD in Christian education and contemporary theology in 1964.
I find it interesting that the new dean, Rebecca Chopp, holds a PhD from the University of Chicago, where its divinity school grants PhDs in religious studies.
I would like to congratulate Cara Hyson on her fine article, “My Life as a Person” (Nov.). When I left New York City at the age of 28 to return to Tacoma (and, for me, a more suitable lifestyle), a fellow Yalie asked, “Are you retiring?”
Although I moved to the West Coast, I found that personal identification through one’s job title and achievement is not limited just to Yale graduates. It may be true that Yale gives its graduates a greater sense of expectations, but the drive to be the best and to achieve the highest level possible exists whether one goes to Yale or Tacoma Community College.
However, Cara, there is hope. At our 35th Reunion, I noticed a big difference in the attitude of most of my classmates. It was a “what you see is what you get” attitude, with many of the brightest and most accomplished telling of challenges they had encountered personally, financially, or otherwise. And do you know what? No one judged that person because of the shortcomings, but respected and appreciated that person as he was.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we all could be recognized for who we are in every respect—and not just in material accomplishments?
I noted the item about Old Saybrook’s observance of Yale’s Tercentennial in December’s YAM (“Light & Verity”). I thought you would be interested to know that Clinton, Connecticut, had its own celebration on October 26. Rather than remove to Saybrook, Abraham Pierson conducted the College’s early classes in his Congregational parsonage here until his death in 1707. Commencements were held in Saybrook. Continuing a tradition begun at our church’s bicentennial in 1867 and again in 1917 and 1967, Yale sent an eminent emissary and the Pierson presidential chair to honor the relationship between the University and this shoreline community.
The Film Version
I noted with interest the rise of Film Studies (“Lights! Camera! Yale!,” Apr.). I also noted with more than casual interest the resurrection of the Yale Film Society. During my attendance (1948-52), I was a member of Yale Cinema, which used to be known as the Yale Film Society. So you see, YFS’s lineage extends back beyond 1958 by more than a decade. Yale Cinema (considered to be a more soigne title than YFS) worked on a subscription basis, showing classics that are complacently accepted as such today. Then, a screening of Citizen Kane was regarded as a real oddity.
On the production side, our only effort was a 16mm sound film of Chaucer’s “Pardoner’s Tale”—updated. In those Pre- Cambrian days of film production, there was no way to get competent sound and lighting other than to hire New York professionals. Therefore, our 20-minute epic (black and white, of course) wound up costing $10,000. It was screened once at the Lincoln Theater. After the attrition caused by graduations, we lost track of the negative. For all I know, it may have been transformed into 10,000 mandolin picks. I would be most pleased to hear from anyone with knowledge of the subsequent fate of our epic.
Congrats to all who pursue film studies.
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