Yale Motto

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Faculty for Yale is a spontaneously coalescing group of faculty drawn from across the university. Its members believe that Yale must rededicate itself to its fundamental mission: to preserve, produce, and transmit knowledge. This inspiring ideal is as vital to our work today as in the past. It is perfectly captured by our ancient motto, Lux et Veritas.

Yale faculty are the custodians of a system of values that is under challenge from several quarters. Reaffirming Yale’s central mission is the key to grasping the nature and magnitude of this challenge and to understanding why important changes of emphasis and direction are needed to meet it. Some of these changes pertain to the freedom of academic expression; others do not. But all are motivated by the perception that Yale today appears to be struggling to meet its most important responsibilities as an academic institution in a clear and consistent way.


Faculty for Yale:  

  • insist on the primacy of teaching, learning, and research as distinct from advocacy and activism, and on the centrality of the faculty to these core activities; 
  • confirm Yale’s commitment to robust free expression, including affirmative efforts to foster more open campus and classroom discourse, coupled with institutional neutrality; 
  • affirm the university’s commitment to the pursuit of excellence; critical thinking applied to all points of view; and a tolerant and broad-minded campus ethos and culture; 
  • urge greater administrative transparency and increased faculty oversight of all pedagogic and academic activities.

One important corollary is that Yale as an institution should not prescribe any moral or political positions as institutional orthodoxy or treat the failure to endorse such a position as grounds for sanction or exclusion, whether formal or informal.  Doing so thins our collective knowledge and experience and diminishes the truth-seeking enterprise in which we are all engaged. 


Yale faculty today face a number of related issues that are the result, in significant part, of a retreat from the university’s basic mission and the blurring of its essential responsibilities as an academic institution.  These issues include: a decline in faculty governance of academic matters; an increase in the scope and cost of Yale’s bureaucracy (according to both internal and external analyses), of unclear justification; and a weak record on free speech (according to external ratings). 

Meanwhile, the broader society in which we exist and on whose support we depend (including the citizens who pay taxes that underwrite many of our activities and the donors who support Yale more directly) is losing confidence in our willingness to protect the academic values with whose defense we have historically been entrusted. The warning signs include surveys indicating declining public trust; intrusion by politicians (often self-serving) into academic affairs; and disaffection on the part of donors. 

This situation can and must be redressed.  Yale’s resources (human, physical, financial, historical, and reputational) are immense.  But our aspirations are greater still.  This is always the proper balance between resources and ideals.  Ensuring that this balance is maintained requires an energetic reaffirmation of the lasting importance of the academic goal of the work we pursue in so many different ways. 

First Steps

Faculty for Yale endorses the following measures:

  • Establishment of a website with signatories supporting the mission of Faculty for Yale.
  • Reaffirmation of the central role of faculty decision-making in all academic matters and of the need for greater transparency and broader consultation in the management of university affairs more generally.  In this spirit, we call for a thorough reassessment of administrative encroachment on a number of important areas—including the conduct of faculty searches; the requirement of techniques and interventions unrelated to the pedagogical demands of classroom instruction; and the design of student orientation programs whose purpose and content is largely invisible to the faculty at large.   
  • Encouragement of activities on campus intended to foster greater tolerance for diverse points of view.
  • Endorsement of the principles set out in the Woodward Report and explicit description in the Faculty Handbook of the protections these principles afford.
  • Endorsement of the Kalven Report’s principle of institutional neutrality at the university, school, and departmental levels (of course, this does not restrict faculty as individuals from expressing themselves).
  • Support for the implementation of the guidelines regarding donor influence promulgated in 2022 by Yale’s Gift Policy Review Committee. 
  • Support for a detailed university-wide review of the size and scope of the bureaucracy that appears to have grown to such a large size at Yale in the past 15 years. 

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