Dear Fellow Members of the Yale Faculty,
Yesterday, the New York Times reported that one of our colleagues, History Professor Beverly Gage, felt strongly that her leadership of the Grand Strategy program was questioned and interfered with by the program’s donors. I have unqualified respect and admiration for Professor Gage, and I am genuinely sorry that she did experience more unsolicited input from donors than faculty members should reasonably be expected to accept. I have known both Professor Gage and these donors for a long time, and all of them are wonderful members of our community who care deeply about Grand Strategy, and about Yale. For everyone’s benefit, I should have tried harder to improve the situation.
Let me be clear: Yale is committed to free inquiry and academic freedom—these are the university’s foundational values and have been my own over the course of my 35 years on the faculty. I unequivocally support the faculty’s right to conduct research, scholarship, and teaching without outside interference.
Since yesterday, I have heard from many faculty members and alumni. Your emails to me have a clear message: we must take great care to ensure that gifts we receive do not infringe on the academic freedom of our faculty.
As we begin the public phase of our current fundraising campaign, and in consideration of Professor Gage’s experience, I am giving new and careful consideration to how we can reinforce our fundamental commitment to academic freedom in our engagement with donors. We must always ensure that faculty members are protected from any interference in shaping the curriculum and in setting the course for their research and scholarship. This is your expectation and mine, and it is the expectation of our donors.
With best regards,
Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology