THE YALE CORPORATION & THE ELECTION
What is the Yale Corporation and what does the Corporation do?
The Yale Corporation (informally known as the Board of Trustees) is Yale’s principal governing body. It consists of the University President and 16 trustees who serve six-year terms. Six trustees are democratically elected by alumni, while the others are appointed by the Corporation. Here is what they do, according to Yale’s
website: "As fiduciaries, the trustees ensure that Yale’s academic and administrative leadership are guided by sound policies and practices, and equipped with adequate resources, to further Yale’s mission."
What is the difference between the Yale Corporation and the Board of Trustees?
They are one and the same. The governing body of the University was referred to as the Corporation in legislation regarding the University dating back to 1792, in which the members of the Corporation were referred to interchangeably as Fellows and Trustees. Yale started referring to the Corporation informally as the Board of Trustees on its website in 2017.
How are the trustees selected?
Ten of the seventeen trustees are “successors of the original trustees of the University” and are appointed by the current members of the Corporation. Six trustees are elected, one per year, in the alumni election. The President of the University, also appointed by the Corporation, also serves as the President of the Corporation. Additionally, the Governor and Lt. Governor of the State of Connecticut sit on the Corporation as ex officio members.
How do candidates get on the ballot?
Nominees are hand-selected by the Alumni Election Nominating Committee of the Yale Alumni Association Board of Governors. Alternatively, any alumni who wish to run for election can guarantee themselves a place on the ballot by collecting signatures a number of signatures equal to 3% of eligible voters. This year, that number is 4,394.
Who is eligible to vote?
All living alumni of the University, excluding those who graduated from Yale College in the last five years, are eligible to run and to vote.
Why can’t Yale College vote or run for election for five years after they graduate?
Recent graduates of Yale College have been prohibited from voting in the alumni election since the addition of the Alumni Trustees to the Corporation in 1871. While no evidence of the reasoning behind this decision is known, one could presume that it was an attempt to prevent recent graduates, who attended homecoming in larger numbers than older graduates, from having an outsized influence on an election which was at the time held in person on Commencement Day. Elections are no longer held in person, and Yale has no excuse for disenfranchising recent alumni.
What’s wrong with the trustees appointing their own successors?
Quite simply, it’s not democratic. The current system has produced a board that is overwhelmingly old, white, and male. In fact, ten out of the eleven appointed trustees (including the President) are men! A more open and inclusive democratic process will lead to a more representative board, who will be more capable of acting in the best interests of the students, alumni, and mission of the University.
When is the election and how do I vote?
Voting is done by mail or electronically; alumni receive an email with details on how to vote in the alumni election in April of the year of the election. However, to get a candidate on the ballot, we first need to collect 4,394 signatures. Signatures can be collected electronically or on paper from May 18th to October 1st the year before the election. You can sign up to receive updates about the petition process
How is Yale Forward going to achieve the goals of its platform with only one seat on the Corporation?
While one out of 17 is far from a majority, having voices in the room who are advocating for greater climate action will be impactful. You can imagine that if the Corporation is naming a new President or taking a position on investor responsibility, it's key to have Trustees in the room asking, "What's your plan to have Yale take more significant climate action?", or “How does this decision contribute to our commitment to be leaders on climate action?”
This is just one of the ways in which our candidates can work to make climate action a strategic priority for Yale once they're elected. As Yale Forward continues to be active in the coming years, we will continue to increase the proportion of Trustees on the Board who support climate action. More than anything, the act of electing Yale Forward candidates sends a clear message that alumni care about these issues, encouraging Yale to take action.
Shouldn’t candidates for the Corporation not be “single-issue” candidates?
This isn’t a single-issue candidacy! We are running on a platform of climate action, endowment justice, and democratic governance of the Yale Corporation. These are three topics we feel need to be prioritized to maintain Yale’s excellence and position as world leader.
While our candidate Maggie Thomas is dedicated to enacting the Yale Forward platform because she believes it’s in the best interest of the University to do so, Maggie is also an exceptionally intelligent, informed, and driven person with a deep passion for making sure Yale continues to be a world leader and a standard for excellence. In coming years, we hope to increase the representation of diverse backgrounds and experiences on the Yale Corporation to reflect the diversity of the alumni community, particularly the more recent generations. Maggie will thoughtfully and ably perform all Trustee responsibilities and will bring fresh perspectives to the Board that will benefit all.