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Yale's Hierarchy


In this era, perhaps more than in any other since the Renaissance nothing, no matter how sacred, is accepted on faith. It is a healthy sign. Emboldened by this atmosphere of scepticism and reasonable appraisal, we dare to examine the fundamental machinery of Yale University; for we are unwilling to consider it the best possible, merely as a matter of course. Our examination indicates indeed, that it is far from the best possible.

By the "fundamental machinery" we mean the manner of faculty appointment and promotion, which is probably the very heart of the success of an educational institution. For many decades Yale has been almost unique in the country in giving the power to appoint and promote almost exclusively to the body of full professors in each school. The President has only a power of veto which has for obvious reasons been used put rarely. In practice this system has meant that the so-called "elder statesmen" in each department away the destinies of those among the lower ranks and of those who hope for appointment.

Before now we have mentioned the danger of inbreeding in an institution, particularly an educational one. And the Yale system definitely heightens this danger. For no matter how great the integrity and intelligence of a body of man may be, they must inevitably favor, to a greater student, those younger men place methods and whose friends agree with theirs. The obvious result is that the instructor ambitious for promotion--and which are not so?--must be continuously watchful not to offend the sensibilities of his superiors. Nothing could be less conducive to initiative, originality, and fresh ideas. Of perhaps greater importance even is the unlikelihood of bringing in men from the outside who are different and hence stimulating. A University to keep alive must grow and to grow must be constantly enlivened by the influx of intellectual opposites, new blood.

We do not mean to accuse Yale professors of repeatedly making their choices on the basis of personal agreement or disagreement. Yet with a system such as Yale's, the tendency is inescapable, as cases, not too isolated, show. That there is considerable truth in what we say will be demonstrated by the fact that no instructors will venture to endorse our stand, much as they might like to. As long as the system remains, the menace of inbreeding and intellectual stagnation and repression is ever present.

The menace will disappear only when the higher authorities are given either the initiative for appointment or promotion, or an effective final decision. Less intimately connected with the machinery of the departments, and hence less liable to the prejudice of personal opinion, they will also be in a far better position to survey and draw from the entire educational field in the search for new and different talent. With a full sense of our temerity in broaching this almost sacred question, we earnestly recommend to the Corporation, the open minded consideration and appraisal of Yale's traditionally hierarchial methods. Yale Daily News.

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