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No More Starving Musicians

Every fall, deans from the nation’s top 11 music schools gather to compare notes and kibitz about the future of music education. At last year’s meeting, Northwestern’s music school dean, Toni-Marie Montgomery, was struck by a casual comment from outgoing Yale School of Music dean Robert L. Blocker. Offhandedly, Blocker mentioned the possibility of full-tuition funding at Yale—a feat that none of the schools, besides the renowned Curtis Institute of Music, has ever quite managed to orchestrate.

Montgomery thought nothing more of their conversation—until November 2, when her in-box was flooded with reactions to the news that, thanks to an anonymous $100 million donation, Yale will grant full tuition remission for all School of Music students beginning next fall. “I immediately sent the message to our president and provost,” Montgomery says. “We compete with Yale. The fact that tuition is now covered means it will attract the cream of the crop in grad students.”

Montgomery wasn’t the only one to express shock, and a little bit of envy, at the largest donation to a music school in American history. Since Joseph Battell presented Yale College with $5,000 in 1854 to establish one of the nation’s first music schools, music administrators have struggled to achieve what Curtis dean Robert Fitzpatrick calls the natural evolution of the music school: “quality faculty, superior student selection, and full tuition.”

“Since Yale had the first two already,” Fitzpatrick surmises, “the next goal was to keep the cost down for students.” Yale has expected the gift for about a year; once administrators knew it was in the offing, they immediately started thinking about ending student tuition. The school also plans to use some of the money for global advances (such as acquiring technology to broadcast events and lectures worldwide) and local ones (expanding relationships in the New Haven public schools). “Tuition is just the beginning,” says Thomas C. Duffy, acting dean of the School of Music. “This generous gift will make it possible to realize many of the school’s goals in a matter of years instead of decades.”

Making more beautiful music is nice, but for many of the 200 students at the school, the help with their bottom line is the announcement’s high note. Though her parents' college savings plan took care of her first $23,750 in annual tuition, first-year violinist Caroline Shaw “considered not coming back because it was so expensive. It’s really hard the first two years after school to find a job to make ends meet, so I wanted to be in grad school at the right time in my life.” With her new windfall, it looks as if her timing couldn’t have been better.


Campus Revolution?

Only on a campus like Yale—where George W. Bush finished third behind Ralph Nader in the student vote in 2000—could the election of a self-proclaimed “moderate Democrat” seem like a conservative coup. But on November 8, Nick Shalek '05 scored a surprise win over Democrat Rebecca Livengood '07 in the aldermanic race for New Haven’s first ward, which consists almost entirely of Yale undergraduates. The victory started speculation that campus politics is inching to the right.

Shalek defeated Livengood 431-373, an unusually high turnout. (The 2003 total was only 531.) Usually, after the Ward 1 Democratic Committee endorses a candidate, the election itself is just a formality. Livengood, who won the endorsement, fit the profile for a Ward 1 alderman: she has a history of political involvement at Yale, most notably with the Undergraduate Organizing Committee, a broad-based group that works closely with Yale unions. Shalek, on the other hand, is a former president of the Yale Entrepreneurial Society who has worked since graduation for the Yale investment office—neither group a springboard for leftist politics.

Shalek’s platform would qualify as progressive virtually anywhere. But he emphasized economic development in New Haven, and a centerpiece issue was his support for the $430 million cancer center that Yale–New Haven Hospital is seeking to build. City government and union activists have held up approval for the center as part of a drive to unionize hospital employees (Light & Verity, March/April). The high-profile debate has been a divisive one on campus and in the city, with competing rallies and advertisements from hospital and union forces.

Alyssa Rosenberg '06, a member of the Democratic Town Committee, thinks Shalek’s election suggests a political awakening among campus conservatives and “a major reaction against the campus left.” But Livengood doesn’t agree. “I don’t think there’s been any transformation in the political culture,” she says. “Nick simply did a good job of registering people who'd never voted in New Haven.”

Indeed, while Livengood’s campaign focused on traditional door-to-door canvassing, Shalek’s relied on networking through athletic teams, singing groups, fraternities, and other close-knit groups. “A lot of kids felt like this was finally an opportunity to weigh in,” says Shalek. A former Yale hockey captain himself, Shalek arranged for vans to bring athletes off the practice fields to the polls. “When the entire lacrosse team showed up to vote at five o'clock,” says Rosenberg, who was working the polls, “I knew Rebecca was going to lose.”


Native Americans mark a centennial

“Tomorrow, Mother, I’m going to Harvard to see the Yale-Harvard game. I’m a fool. I can’t afford it, but I’m going.” Henry Roe Cloud, Class of 1910, Yale’s first Native American student, understood the importance of big events. To honor the 100th anniversary of his matriculation—and to celebrate the growing Native American community at Yale—it seemed only fitting to host a large fall celebration. And so, on the afternoon of November 5, the Mystic River Singers were seated under orange-leaved trees on Cross Campus, warming up their drums with a portable blow dryer. Out-of-towners on the grass discussed friendship circles and New Haven lunch options. Students videotaped curious passersby.

“I love talking about where I come from,” said Ken Bernard '06 as he passed out fliers. Raised on the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Reservation in North Dakota, he finds that his ethnicity attracts a certain brand of question. “People ask about powwows, tribes, how you become a man,” he said, laughing.

The drumming session was the third event of the weekend. Early risers had toured the Native American collection at the Peabody Museum and read Cloud’s family letters at Sterling Memorial Library. Discussion groups on higher education followed, and a formal sit-down soiree would honor Sam Deloria '64 and Howard Lamar '51PhD as the first recipients of the Henry Roe Cloud Medal. Deloria, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, was recognized for his work as an activist and director of the American Indian Law Center. Lamar, the Sterling Professor Emeritus of History and a scholar of the American West, was cited for his mentorship of Native American students and leadership in Native American studies.

Ashley Hemmers '07, president of the Association of Native Americans at Yale, works to raise the visibility of Yale’s 75 current Native American students. “You get tired of being a spokesperson,” she says. “We’re just trying to let people know that Native Americans are still around and we’re dealing with modern issues. We try to foster unity among the Native American students, but many of us are from different tribes.” Hemmers grew up on the Fort Mojave Reservation in California. “I remember calling my grandmother and telling her I was rooming with a Navajo.” Hemmers’s grandmother, a member of the rival Mojaves, couldn’t believe her ears. 

Many Native students have what Hemmers describes as a “love-hate” relationship with Yale. “When Native Americans first get here they are very excited about Yale,” she says. “But once they settle in they realize that Yale does not have classes in Native American studies or a thriving cultural center—things that West Coast schools do offer.” But the Native community is growing. “In the past four years, the number of applications has leaped,” says Rosalinda Garcia, an assistant dean of Yale College and director of the Native American Cultural Center. She largely credits the increase to the work of the admissions office, with help from active alumni, the Yale Group for the Study of Native America, and the year-old Native American cultural advisory board. “All cultural groups struggle with visibility. That’s why events like this celebration are so important,” she said as she waved goodbye to a group of students.

Hemmers hopes the anniversary educates both Yale and her tribe. “I want to take my educational experience back home,” she said, watching the day’s events unfold on her camera. “I want to teach my tribe how to maneuver in different situations—how to voice its opinion, be non-confrontational, function in everyday society. Yale is about as 'America' as you can get.” If she can survive four years as a Bulldog, Hemmers says, anyone can.


International incident?

On October 20, the Graduate Employees and Students Organization staged a rally in front of the Hall of Graduate Studies to protest alleged discrimination against Chinese nationals at Yale. Afterward, GESO, which works for graduate student unionization at Yale, delivered a grievance to the dean of the Graduate School signed by more than 300 graduate students, including over half of the Chinese student body. Media caught wind of the rally, and stories appeared in the New York Times, Associated Press, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and even the evening news in China.

The grievance centered on the case of Xuemei Han. Last summer, Han was told that she was no longer in good academic standing with the ecology and evolutionary biology department, a statement she disputes. She requested a transfer to the environment school, but was told she would lose her fellowship.

According to GESO, Han’s was “the latest of a string of cases … in which Chinese scholars have been singled out in their departments for ‘bad academic standing.’” GESO did not have statistics on the number of Chinese and other students found in bad academic standing. Asked whether experiences such as Han's are unique to Chinese students, GESO chair Mary Reynolds said that “many international students face the same insecurities.” GESO focused on Chinese students, she said, because they “make up a majority of the international graduate student body.”

Yale spokesman Tom Conroy says, “Yale does not discriminate against any students, including those in the Chinese community.” In response to the complaint, Yale says it will form an ad-hoc student-faculty committee to explore advisory and funding issues affecting international students. “There are many potential solutions,” says Jon Butler, dean of the Graduate School. He declined to comment on the specifics of the grievance, but he stressed that Han will keep her scholarship when she transfers to the environment school.


Peru wants Machu Picchu objects back

Ever since Yale archaeologist Hiram Bingham '98 led the 1911-1916 expeditions that unearthed the ruins of Machu Picchu, Peru’s “lost city of the Incas” has been one of the world’s most celebrated cultural sites. Many of the items the explorers brought back to Yale are currently on display at the Peabody Museum after a six-city U.S. tour. But some in the Peruvian government now contend that the university has kept those objects illegally. They are threatening legal action to get the material back.

Yale and Peru have been in talks about the collection—some 5,000 objects, though Yale says only about 250 are of “exhibitable quality”—for the past three years. But in November, Luis Guillermo Lumbreras Salcedo, chair of Peru’s National Institute of Culture, told the Associated Press that his country’s foreign ministry was preparing to file a lawsuit in the United States. The Peruvians say that a 1916 government resolution gave the explorers permission to take the objects for only one year (later extended by 18 months). Yale says that the resolution applied only to artifacts taken during a second expedition in 1914-15, and that Yale returned those objects long ago. Objects from the first expedition, the university says, belong to Yale under Peru’s Civil Code of 1852.

Richard Burger, former director of the Peabody and co-curator of the current Machu Picchu exhibition, argues that exhibits like these, paid for by Yale with donor support, have benefited Peruvian tourism. Burger charges that President Alejandro Toledo, whose term ends in 2006, is using the dispute to drum up political support. “I view this not as a conflict between Peru and Yale,” says Burger, “but between a very unpopular government in Peru that is about to leave office and Yale.”

Yale officials say they hope to resolve the matter without litigation. In a December 8 letter to Gustavo Pacheco Villar, president of Peru’s Commission on Foreign Relations, Deputy Provost for the Arts Barbara Shailor outlined Yale’s proposal for “collaboration” with Peru “in overseeing the return to Peru [of] a substantial number of the artifacts at issue and creating facilities in Peru that will ensure the continued conservation and exhibition of these objects.”


New push for faculty diversity

Like most elite universities, Yale has been talking about the need for a more diverse faculty for decades now—and it has made progress. But as critics continue to decry the slow rate of change, the university says it is stepping up its efforts.

Immunologist H. Kim Bottomly, who was recently named deputy provost for science, technology, and faculty development (the faculty development aspect was added when she took the job in July) will head a new diversity committee and oversee an effort to find fresh approaches to recruiting a more diverse faculty. The university’s goal, announced in November, is to increase the proportion of women faculty members to 30 percent and minority faculty members to 19 percent by 2012. The plan also calls for improved mentoring for junior faculty so that they will emerge as strong candidates for tenure—even at Yale, where it is famously difficult for junior faculty to move up.

This year, 25 percent of all Yale’s arts and sciences professors—tenured and non-tenured—are women and 14 percent are members of minority groups (up from 20 percent and 10 percent, respectively, a decade ago). According the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) the percentage of women at Yale is similar to or larger than at peer universities; it’s about the same as the rate at the University of Michigan, and higher than at Harvard or Stanford. The AAUP does not track minority employment.

The initiative promises that “resources will not be an impediment to hiring an appropriately diverse faculty.” Resources include not only money for salaries but also laboratory equipment, office space, and support staff, says Bottomly.

“Yale has been seriously working on this issue since 1970,” says Gaddis Smith '54, '61PhD, Larned Professor Emeritus of History, who is writing a history of Yale in the twentieth century. “This initiative may be distinguished from others in that there may be more money involved, though it’s not clear how much. Effective education requires a diverse faculty of both genders and many different backgrounds, and not just a bunch of aging white men, and there’s really got to be money behind it.” Smith notes that expanding diversity was made difficult by retrenchment in the early 1990s, when the size of the faculty was not permitted to grow, and by the end of Yale’s mandatory retirement age.

 Imaginative search methods are crucial to avoid “recreating the status quo,” says Ann Springer, counsel for the AAUP. One way to push for new methods is to make sure someone is paying attention. For that reason, Joan A. Steitz, Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, is enthusiastic about Bottomly’s new position. “These things only happen if there are people really dedicated to having them happen,” says Steitz. “We now have someone whose specific task is to monitor progress.”  the end





You Are Here

A mural by Connecticut artist Russell Rainbolt serves as the marquee of Yale’s new International Center. The center, on Temple Street, houses the Office of International Students and Scholars—the university’s main resource on immigration and other concerns of foreign students—and provides space for study, meetings, and events. When the mural was finished, a student pointed out that, although he was happy to see his native New Zealand on the wall, the map did not include the Cook Strait (which runs between the nation’s north and south islands). Within days, Rainbolt was out on his ladder, fixing the error with a can of ocean blue.




Campus Clips

An anarchist professor has dropped his appeal of the anthropology department’s decision not to renew his appointment (Light & Verity, November/December). After informal talks with the provost’s office, David Graeber will leave Yale at the end of this semester but will also receive a year-long paid sabbatical. Graeber says he was asked two years ago to contribute more administrative work, but has maintained that he was terminated because of his radical politics.

A Connecticut woman who had a hysterectomy after doctors told her she had uterine cancer has won a $5.2 million judgment against the School of Medicine and her Wallingford gynecologist. Michelle DiLieto had the surgery in 1995, but sued in 1997 after another doctor told her he believed she never had cancer. Yale was found liable for $2.5 million, the gynecologist for $2.7 million. The university plans to appeal.

Students from Yale and Peking University will take part in a new joint program at Peking beginning next fall. Twenty undergraduates from each university will share housing and take courses taught in English by professors from Yale and Peking.

A former student is suing the School of Drama, saying she was subjected to “unwelcome and highly inappropriate” conduct during an acting workshop in her first month in 2002. Sally Greenhouse claims that she was reprimanded and ultimately dismissed from the school when she complained about the incident and other concerns. She appealed to a university review committee, but it determined that her dismissal and the response to her complaints were handled fairly. She is seeking $75,000 in a federal lawsuit.


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