Salovey is the 23rd president of Yale University. Before becoming president, he was the provost of the university.
New Delhi: For Yale University president Peter Salovey, India presents opportunities for educational partnerships and joint research with Indian companies. In an interview during a recent visit, Salovey spoke about how Yale is looking to expand its base, improve its financial health and raise endowments from Indian businesses. He also spoke about the tie-up with Ashoka University, India’s first liberal arts university. Edited excerpts:
What kind of partnership are you building with Ashoka University?
Our relationship with Ashoka is driven by faculty (exchange and development) and involvement in the planning process of Ashoka University (to) help develop it as a liberal arts university. There is also potential for Ashoka students coming to Yale for summers. We also have an exchange of ideas at the leadership level on how to develop the university. In a nutshell: ideas, students and faculty. As Ashoka builds different departments, those are opportunities for additional partnerships. But we are not talking about a formal joint degree.
A student’s blog said Yale is opening new residential colleges and pushing globalization on campus. Does that mean you are expanding your base and increasing your intake of foreign students?
We are expanding the size of our undergraduate programme by 15%. That means 200 additional students every year and 800 additional undergraduate students in total on campus. Two new residential colleges will open in the fall of 2017. The 2016-17 admission cycles (will take care of it).
One of the groups which make the university better is international students. In the postgraduate programme, we have 30% international students, but in the college (undergraduate level), we went up from 2 or 3% to 11% internationals (in the last few years). The percentage of international students at the graduate level will not change much but we believe it will at the undergraduate level.
You are in a better position than your predecessor to talk about the financial health of Yale…
We went through a very difficult period between 2008 and 2012 because of the global economic crisis. We are out of it. I was the provost at that time—provost is not just the chief academic officer but also the chief budget officer. So, I felt it very strongly. Our endowment is now higher than what it was before the beginning of the recession. Even now, we spend over a billion dollars a year from that endowment.
You must be raising more than $1 billion every year as endowment?
Yes. In 2015, our endowment increased by 11.5%. In 2014, it grew by 22%. Our endowment is now about $26 billion and we spend about 5.25% of it every year. There is no state support for (running) Yale University. We get some federal government support for research.
What’s your overall fund-raising plan from India?
For the most part, the money coming from India to Yale is coming from alumni of Yale University who are grateful for their education and are now making gifts to the university. There are a number of Indian alumni who have done that. We also get some gifts from parents of Yale students from India. Obviously these are wealthier parents. More recently we have begun to have conversations with some Indian firms who are interested in supporting research, generally in a kind of partnership.
A study has found that 28% female undergraduates have reported some kind of sexual harassment on campus. That’s a large number. What’s going on?
This is a problem. The number is far too high and includes various sexual violations—from minor touching to behaviour that constitutes rape in criminal procedure. Some 27 universities agreed to participate in that survey and we are one of them. I am very unhappy with that number. At the same time we have instituted a very substantial prevention and educational programme. Since then we have seen it going down. It’s a serious problem and I am not going to say it’s not. We are working aggressively to make sexual assault or harassment not have any place on our campus.
Yale has given several presidents to the US. Are you backing one of your own alumni or someone else?
As a university president, I have to be politically neutral. But it’s a fact that one of the candidates, Hilary Clinton, has a degree from Yale. She follows in the footsteps of others like Bill Clinton, George Bush (senior and junior) and John Kerry, who ran for the post. We are very proud that we have produced several (presidents).
So, would you like to see another alumnus in the White House?
Your predecessor Prof. Richard C. Levin had talked about growing relations with India to the level of China. Where have you reached in terms of your engagements in India vis-à-vis China?
Every international context is different and we continue to have many partnerships with Chinese universities. (Besides), the National University of Singapore and Yale have come together and opened a liberal arts college in Singapore.
In India (we have many partnerships but), it’s a little slower because the nature of the partnership is different. Because here the Indian institution has to be the first partner.
Now we have a global network of B-schools, and in India, IIM-Bangalore is working with our management school. We are not going to open campuses abroad—even the Singapore one is not owned by Yale, the ministry of education in Singapore funds that college. We think the model of institutional partnership in a way creates more opportunity. We would like to have more student engagements and faculty engagements—a satellite campus is not our model.