Messages from the Chair

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

Welcome back! I hope that your summer was restful, rejuvenating, and productive in all the right proportions, and that your re-entry has been mercifully smooth and without travail.
I write as incoming Chair of the FAS Senate to introduce myself and to make a few introductory comments about the Senate’s work this year.  You will be receiving occasional announcements and updates from me, and senate business will be always be accessible on our website, as before.  But I want most earnestly to invite you to contact me whenever a question, problem, concern, or suggestion arises in the affairs of the university that might benefit from the Senate’s attention.  One goal for the year is to enhance the communications and exchange between senators and the FAS at large.
In addition to the ongoing projects and inquiries of our committees, here is some of our anticipated work for the year:
1)  The Senate is working with the Yale College Dean’s office to develop a series of Town Halls for faculty and students under the umbrella, “The American University in the Twenty-First Century.”  Individual sessions might be devoted to topics like “Scientific Knowledge and the Public Sphere,” “Why Many Americans Distrust the University, and What to Do About It,” or “The Free Speech Debate:  What It Means and How to Survive It.”  The idea for this programming took shape in response to the deep red-state/blue-state crisis that increasingly bedevils the nation at large, with all that it portends for contested values, segmented epistemologies, and the uncivil state of public discourse.  The university, it would seem, stands at the very center of many of these questions, as do its research and pedagogical missions.  Please contact us with your ideas for panel topics.
2)  The Senate will embark on a study of faculty members’ experience of support for their core research and teaching missions, as a matter of both faculty life and of university “excellence.”  Soon after the dust settles on shopping period, you will receive a faculty survey that can be completed on line in a matter of several minutes.  In its comprehensive reports over the past two years, the Senate has established an excellent track record of compiling important new data and of helping the administration to act on them.  We urge you to participate in the survey when you receive the prompt.
3)  The Senate will continue to follow up on implementation of the recommendations in our previous reports on Diversity & Inclusivity; on Parental Policies; on College Expansion; and on the Status, Pay and Condition of Instructional (formerly “Non-Ladder”) Faculty.  (These reports are available on the Senate website at
4)  With the exception of our closed organizational meeting on Sept. 7, FAS Senate meetings are open to the full faculty, and faculty members are invited to address the Senate on issues of concern.  Your request for a speaking slot can be submitted on the senate website (  There are a few details still pending, but here is our schedule as it stands (agendas for open sessions will be published a week in advance):
September 7, 2017 - WL (closed session)
October 12, 2017 - HGS 211, 320 York Street
November 9, 2017 - HGS 211, 320 York Street
December 14, 2017 - HGS 211, 320 York Street
January 11, 2018 - HGS 211, 320 York Street
February 8, 2018 - HGS 211, 320 York Street
March 8, 2018 - HGS 211, 320 York Street
April 12, 2018 (place TBA)
May 2018 - (meeting date and venue TBA)
This promises to be a challenging year on college campuses everywhere, as world and national events seem poised to throw forth many dangers.   I am very grateful to be part of a community like Yale’s at such a time.  I look forward to working with you, and it is my hope that the FAS Senate, as a representative body of broad collectivity, can serve you well as you face the specific challenges and opportunities in your own corner of the university.  We will work very hard to make it so.
All best wishes for the year ahead,
Matthew Frye Jacobson
William Robertson Coe Professor of American Studies and History
Chair:  Ethnicity, Race & Migration