The University Council was established in 1947 as an advisory body to the president of the University for the purpose of studying and making recommendations on particular facets of University life. The Council is unique among all of Yale’s volunteer leadership advisory groups as the only one that is not limited to a certain area or activity of the university, or to representation of a particular group of people in the Yale community. The Council’s broad scope enables the president to call upon the group for advice on the most important strategic questions and opportunities for the university at any given moment in time.
The University Council is distinct from the Yale Corporation in that it bears no fiduciary responsibility for the university and its membership is not limited to alumni of the university. It is solely an advisory body, which allows members to bring perspective and offer advice that is unfettered by the practicalities of operational concerns, even as all members are dedicated to ensuring a strong Yale today, and for the future.
Council members are appointed by the Yale Corporation on nomination by the President. Members are generally alumni of the university or parents of current students.
The Council meets twice yearly on campus, typically in November and April. The group may have up to thirty-five members. In addition, the Chair of the Association of Yale Alumni Board of Governors and Chair of the Yale Alumni Fund Board of Directors serve as ex officio members. Members generally serve for a three-year term, and the president of the university may invite members to serve an additional term.
In keeping with the Council’s role, the president of the university attends all meetings.
The by-laws of the University Council allow for the formation of committees to pursue in depth studies of particular topics or areas of the university. That has been part of past practice, and may be done in the future. Currently, the president asks the University Council to consider issues and provide advice in shorter timeframes, to keep pace with the speed of change at the university and in higher education more broadly. This also allows the Council to address many issues across its two meetings each year, thereby offering their advice on more topics than might otherwise be possible.