As Yale starts its 2023 fiscal year, I reflect on the YAA’s activities over the last year. I write, as I have done in the past, to give you an update on Yale’s and the YAA’s efforts to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and belonging.
I encourage you to forward this and previous DEI updates to other alumni and ask them to let me know if they would like to receive future reports. If you are no longer interested in receiving these messages, please let me know and we will remove you from these mailings.
In my last update, I described the status of the next phase of the Belonging at Yale initiative, unveiled by President Salovey ’86 PhD in October 2020. As part of the committee that made recommendations supporting the six goal areas of this phase, I am pleased to report that the work continues, as reflected on the Belonging at Yale website.
Examples of the work are as follows:
- All schools and units developed plans to advance DEI and belonging.
- The Yale and Slavery Working Group uncovered Yale’s entanglements with slavery and continues to feature its research online and at the annual conference of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition. Of note are findings that Connecticut Hall on Old Campus was built with slave labor.
- Yale announced that Yale Police Chief Ronnell Higgins will assume a new role as Yale’s inaugural associate vice president for public safety and community engagement; Assistant Police Chief Anthony Campbell ’95, ’09 MDiv will be Yale’s new chief of police. This move is part of Yale’s re-envisioning public safety that was outlined in 2020.
- The Yale School of Management marked the first year of its Council on Anti-Racism and Equity (CARE), appointed by Yale School of Management Dean Kerwin K. Charles to identify existing issues and needs related to inclusivity, school culture, and representation, and develop recommendations based on these findings.
- This past academic year, the Office of the Provost’s Faculty Development and Diversity team conducted a survey of current faculty members in all ranks, to better understand the climate and their experiences, and an exit survey of faculty who recently have left Yale. The results will inform efforts to attract and retain an excellent and diverse faculty.
- This year, more than 1,500 students in Yale College worked with Student Accessibility Services on disability accommodations – twice the number in 2018. Yale has made investments in SAS to support the ability of these students to participate fully in university life.
The Yale College Class of 2025 first-year class profile mirrors the diversity seen across the campus. The university’s Eli Whitney program for non-traditional students continues to add to the diversity, as you can see from the video on the program’s webpage.
As Yale’s student body becomes more diverse, so too does our alumni body. It is for this reason that DEI remains a top YAA priority. To better advance the YAA mission and values, YAA staff has sought to learn more about the histories and experiences of underrepresented communities. Since the fall of 2021, we’ve had sessions featuring recommended source materials and discussions about the Chicano, Native American, American women, Asian American, and LGBTQ communities with Yale professors Richard Bribriescas, Jay Gitlin, Laura Wexler, and Mary Lui, as well as Samuel Byrd, the director of the Office of LGBTQ Resources.
Working with Yale alumni volunteers, the YAA has supported numerous programs advancing DEI. I note in particular our Create with IMPACT conversations.
Please mark your calendars for IMPACT3, March 24-25, 2023, our third biennial conference. In case you missed them, the 2019 conference and 2021 sessions are online and feature engaging speakers, thought-provoking panel discussions, inspirational personal stories, and beautiful music (including three performances by violinist Richmond Punch ’05 MusM).
Thank you for your interest and support of Yale. I hope you are well, and I look forward to our continuing this journey to learn and understand more about diversity, equity, and inclusion matters that are shaping our university and our alumni community.
Weili Cheng ’77, Pierson College
Yale Alumni Association