In a very, very early (9 AM) email sent out to students yesterday morning, President Richard C. Levin announced his resignation as President of the University, effective at the end of the current academic year.
“It is a source of great satisfaction to leave Yale in much stronger condition – academically, physically, and financially – than it was when I began in 1993. Our faculty is stronger than ever, and our deans and directors all have clear and ambitious agendas that will keep the University moving forward.”
This year will mark Levin’s 20th as head of the university and the end of a tenure characterized by many changes within the university. Amongst other achievements, Levin oversaw the renovation of the twelve residential colleges, growth of Yale’s endowment despite financial crisis, and the creation of Yale-NUS College (controversial, but we’ll get to that later.)
But lest we get too complimentary here at IvyGate, we probably should not forget the less exemplary aspects of Levin’s presidency.
Levin’s response to the Title XI complaint filed in 2011 (and the ensuing and ongoing debacle) has been heavily criticized. Though the problems with Yale’s sexual culture can’t be fixed by policy changes alone, some students feel that the changes instituted by Levin were really geared more to improving Yale’s image rather than addressing the concerns of students.
And if student response towards Levin’s stance on Title XI issues is less than enthusiastic, his attitude towards the success and growth of the Yale athletics program is downright infuriating to many students.
Jokes about Yale’s football team aside, Yale actually holds one of the most successful undergraduate athletic programs in the Ivy League. However, as this Yale Herald article points out, the number of recruits pales in comparison to its fellow schools and frustration amongst athletes on campus is understandable.
“The Yale men’s track team has 44 runners, while Princeton has 65 and Cornell 80. And another: According to Liao, Harvard and Princeton show up to swim meets with an armada twice the size of Yale’s squad. This is the true cost of the recruiting cap—knowing your team could be winning, should be winning, but will not win, because there just aren’t enough bodies to go around.”
Both of these cases present the underlying cause of much of the frustration with Levin, at least among the undergraduate body. Though the phrase “out of touch” has already been used way too often in this election cycle, we think it represents how Levin comes off to the general student body. The shitstorm over Yale-NUS is a great example of this. Despite vehement protests from students and faculty, Levin just kind of went ahead and did whatever he was planning on doing anyways, without really addressing the very legitimate concerns expressed by critics (unless you don’t really think that ensuring free speech on a college campus is a legitimate concern).
The point of this is not to shit all over Levin (sorry). His very long and generally successful presidency should not be judged entirely on the most recent controversies; he’s done some really groundbreaking work, especially when it comes to improving Yale/New Haven relations. The point of this is to show whatever all-knowing, all-powerful search committee is formed what it should keep in mind when choosing a successor. By the pure nature of the fact that Yale is an Ivy League school, its image to the rest of the world will always be somewhat the same: heaven for the douchebag liberal elite buuuut still one of the best and most desirable institutions of higher learning in the world. Which is why the committee should keep in mind a Yale student’s perception of Yale above all. That’s what changes and what genuinely matters to the quality of the school.
You’re probably wondering what good ol’ Rick is doing after Yale: he’s taking a sabbatical and writing a book.
Holy shit, he’s gonna turn into this guy.