Thursday, August 30, 2012

President Rick Levin of Yale

I have had my problems with Rick Levin's tenure at Yale, but there is no question he has been good for Yale and for New Haven.

Senior Fellow, Yale Corporation
10:34 AM (1 hour ago)
to Yale
August 30, 2012

To:The Yale Community
From:Edward P. Bass, Senior Fellow of the Yale Corporation
In light of Rick Levin’s decision to step down next June after completing two decades as President of Yale University, I write to convey the heartfelt gratitude of the Yale Corporation for all that Rick has done to advance this University.

Rick’s accomplishments as President have been extraordinary—perhaps unsurpassed in the history of this University—and we have been blessed to have had his leadership for so long. The last Yale President to serve 20 years was Arthur Twining Hadley, who took office in 1899. None of the 60 other Presidents represented in the American Association of Universities has served as long as Rick, and the current Ivy League presidents have had, on average, less than a decade in office. Every year that Rick has been President has been one of advancement for the institution. The Corporation and the Yale community are profoundly indebted to him.

As Rick explained to the Fellows of the Corporation, a number of important projects undertaken in recent years are now well launched: the West Campus has gained the necessary momentum with the establishment of the six new Institutes and the move of the Nursing School there; Yale School of Management’s new campus is funded and under construction; the new liberal arts college in Singapore has recruited its inaugural faculty and will open next summer; and the hard work to reshape Yale’s budget after the national economic downturn will be accomplished by the end of this fiscal year. Characteristic of Rick’s time as President, there are exciting new projects, programs and initiatives in the pipeline, not least of which are new research and teaching facilities for Science Hill and the two new Residential Colleges. Rick is of the view that now would be an opportune time for a new leader to assume the Presidency and to work with the Corporation and with the entire Yale community to shape the next great period of Yale’s future.

In due course we will have the occasion and take the time to celebrate Rick and Jane’s innumerable contributions. But at this time I would like to mention some of the high points of his achievements. Rick leaves every part of Yale stronger than when he assumed office in 1993. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the faculties in each of the Professional Schools are larger, more diverse and cumulatively stronger. He spearheaded the internationalization of Yale, and he has been a champion for Yale intensifying its leadership in science.
The physical campus has undergone a renaissance during Rick’s tenure. The School of Art and the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies have new homes, and the School of Nursing will soon; Engineering and Medicine have new buildings; the Schools of Divinity, Architecture, Music and Law have undergone comprehensive renovations, as has virtually all of the laboratory space in the School of Medicine; and a new campus is under construction for SOM. All twelve residential colleges have been renovated, and 70% of the space on campus has been partially or comprehensively renovated since 1993.
Students have benefitted in innumerable ways from new programs, improved facilities, and especially from dramatic improvements in financial aid, a priority throughout Rick’s presidency. Yale’s student body is far more diverse and far more global than it was two decades ago.

Rick has been a remarkable steward of the financial resources of the University. He has been most gifted in attracting support for the University, raising more than $7 billion during his tenure. Literally thousands of alumni have been inspired by him to “invest” in their alma mater. These donations to Yale, coupled with the remarkable investment management by David Swensen and his team, have resulted in an increase in Yale’s endowment from $3.2 billion in 1993 to $19.4 billion this year
After decades of disappointing relations between Yale and its unions, Rick and his team have worked in concert with union leaders to secure two successive labor contracts peacefully, including the new contracts signed this summer that extend until January 2017.
From his first month in office, Rick has made partnership with New Haven a priority, and we are all the beneficiaries of the improvements achieved from the combined efforts of the City of New Haven and Yale. From the New Haven Homebuyers Program initiated in 1994 to the University’s investments in downtown New Haven to the new program of support to encourage local students to attend college, the City and the University have been made stronger by Rick’s vision and leadership and by Yale’s many partnerships in the City and region.

These examples are only the beginning of the roster of Rick’s contributions. A fuller description of Yale’s progress during his presidency is available at
I will write in the near future concerning the upcoming presidential search, but for now, I wanted to underscore the Corporation’s great appreciation for an extraordinary job well done. On many occasions, Rick has quoted Rabbi Tarfon: “We cannot complete the work, neither are we free to desist from it.” Rick has never desisted from the work of Yale, and by his inspiring example, we shall not either.

Edward P. Bass, Senior Fellow
For the Yale Corporation 

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Let us stipulate that the policemen who opened fire on Jeffrey Johnson as he took aim at them on Fifth Avenue, did the right thing.

Nine people besides Johnson were shot. The NYPD has announced that all nine wounded bystanders "were struck by one of the 16 police bullets – or fragments or ricochets from those rounds – that were fired by the two officers who confronted Mr. Johnson."

A description of the incident from the Times: "Andrew Pellenberg, 23, and a friend, both from New Jersey, were also nearby, thinking about visiting the Empire State Building. 'We heard 10 to 15 gunshots,' Mr. Pellenberg said, 'and it was all in a 30-second span.'"

Again, it seems clear that the officers acted correctly and professionally.  And yet nine innocent people were wounded, thankfully none of them critically.

Can anyone think it would be an advantage to public safety in situations like this if ordinary public citizens were armed?


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Teddy Roosevelt on the corruption of government

Progressive Covenant with the People

 Listen to a recording of Roosevelt's speech here.

Political parties exist to secure responsible government and to execute the will of the people. From these great staffs, both of the old parties have ganged aside. Instead of instruments to promote the general welfare they have become the tools of corrupt interests which use them in martialling [sic] to serve their selfish purposes. Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to befoul the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day. 
                   --Theodore Roosevelt, 1912

Monday, August 20, 2012

Block the vote

Somebody stepped over a line: 

“I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine,” said Doug Preisse, chairman of the county Republican Party and elections board member who voted against weekend hours, in an email to The Dispatch. “Let’s be fair and reasonable.”

He called claims of unfairness by Ohio Democratic Chairman Chris Redfern and others “bullshit. Quote me!”