a tale of working at yale

Lines of Authority

Yale Center for International and Area Studies (YCIAS)


Structure: history and precedents

  1. The councils are not sections or subsections of a department, but are themselves departments in the Arts and Sciences within the larger structure of the University. In size, scope, and structure, area studies councils are among a handful of small, cross-disciplinary departments — graduate and/or undergraduate — that do not appoint their own faculty, such as Medieval Studies, Renaissance Studies, Judaic Studies, and Film Studies. (See the Yale College Courses of Study and the Bulletin of Yale Graduate School)
  2. Council chairmen, appointed by the Dean of the Graduate School, have been the directors of all aspects of their programs, including their staff.
  3. Absent explicit guidelines to the contrary, faculty chairmen and long-time staff members in various departments within YCIAS had established and followed customary relationships and lines of authority. These were logical, practical, common-sense relationships, comparable to those in similar academic departments elsewhere in the University.
  4. Organizational charts issued by the YCIAS over the years graphically displayed Council staff as directly subordinate only to their respective councils, not to YCIAS staff.
  5. There was never a hierarchy of managers above my faculty supervisors; department chairmen did not answer to YCIAS staff.
  6. YCIAS staff were not knowledgeable about programs, policies, priorities, systems, or procedures of the councils for which I worked and at no time ever did manage or supervise the work of either council. They could not have done so in such circumstances, without harming the program.
  7. At no time during my nearly 25 years of employment for area studies councils did YCIAS staff ever have supervisory authority over me.
  8. My administrative responsibilities (i.e., reporting, accounting, meeting deadlines, scheduling facilities, procuring services, carrying out University policies, etc.) to the YCIAS was through my department, as administrator/manager of my department, just as were my responsibilities to other schools and administrative units of the University. If I failed these responsibilities, I failed on behalf of my department, and it would therefore have been up to my department chairmen to discipline me or otherwise deal with the failure.
  9. The University always recognized the department chairmen as my supervisors in special or general examinations of staff positions over the years, up to and including my last job audit (see examples below).
  10. Time after time, the YCIAS directors also recognized and deferred to the programmatic and supervisory authority of the chairmen for their departments (see examples below).
  11. YCIAS did not spell out any relationships to the contrary — not in a handbook, policy statement, or employment manual of any kind (note examples below).
  12. When asked about ambiguities, or directly confronted, YCIAS management never challenged or denied departmental integrity and the authority of the chairmen (see examples below).
  13. My own position was also made explicit by the written agreement of 17 May 1993, at the time I took on the additional duties for Latin American Studies. The agreement, signed by the Union and the University, stated that I was to work directly with the department chairmen. (It’s significance in regard to lines of authority should also be viewed in the context which necessitated the agreement.)

Some examples of the foregoing

All instances cited are supported by documents, contemporaneous notes, witness and participant corroboration, or combinations thereof.

Sept 1988

Foltz and Ruther (then new) met with the administrative assistants of the area councils, at our request. Mansfield, who was spokesman for the staff, posed the central question of the meeting: what is the relationship of the YCIAS, Councils, chairmen, and staff? This was not answered. We requested that Foltz include our chairmen in the contract mandated quarterly staff meetings; he promised to do so, but did not.

Feb 1989

The official results of my particular job in the general reclassification of all C&T positions by the University recognized the integrity of my area council as a department and the supervisory authority of the department chairman over me.

Fall 1989

The questions about structural relationships were raised again at staff meetings with the then new director, G. Smith. We also requested again that our chairmen attend staff meetings. Smith never allowed it.

17 June 1990

G. Smith, when asked by six area council administrative assistants about structural relationships, affirmed that our “programmatic” supervisors were our chairmen.

12 Dec 1991

One of the findings by the University Auditors who conducted an administrative audit of the YCIAS was that “YCIAS has not developed a common understanding of its operating and organizational relationships. The lack of a common understanding is inhibiting the development and operations of the administrative systems needed to support its academic programs.” (See the audit finding.)

The YCIAS response to this finding proposed to remedy the failure cited (1) by having YCIAS faculty “associates” develop a mission statement and (2) by working out other deficiencies in communication in a series of meetings among various YCIAS “associates,” including staff. These never occurred. A mission statement was eventually written by Foltz.

May 1992

The advertisement for a new business manager for the YCIAS contained a phrase that might have indicated that the position would have supervisory authority over the C&T staff, contrary to previous practice.

Scott questioned G. Smith about this phrase at a meeting of the YCIAS with the council and program chairmen; Smith assured him that the phrase meant no such thing and that the chairmen would continue to have their full authority in their councils and programs, including over their staff.

May 1992

At an introductory event for one of the candidates for the business manager position, several of the C&T staff vociferously disabused the candidate of her misunderstanding of the structure of the YCIAS and emphasized particularly the integrity of the area councils. Smith and Ruther were present and did not contradict any of the administrative assistants then or later.

2 June 1992

G. Smith, speaking to entire staff at YCIAS about the roles of the area councils and their administrative assistants, affirmed his rejection of the “typing pool” model [a straw-man threat supposedly from the Provost, often raised by YCIAS directors] and stated that, despite his hopes that there would be sharing and assistance when necessary, for a council administrative assistant, the “work of the council is the first and most exclusive priority.”

Summer/fall 1992

The C&T staff again requested that staff meetings with the YCIAS directorate include council and program chairmen, to clarify relationships and lines of authority. Such meetings were promised by Kimbro and Ruther, but never occurred.

Summer/fall 1992

Kimbro announced that she was writing a personnel handbook for staff at YCIAS that would include job descriptions of each member. Neither the manual nor her descriptions ever materialized.

27 April 1993

At a meeting among Foltz, Kimbro, Boyle, Meyerson, and me, Foltz stated that the replacing of individual area council names and account numbers with the YCIAS’s on staff members’ weekly time sheets (which had occurred since the previous August) had no implications about the organization of the separate councils/departments. It was, he said, merely an accounting convenience requested by Payroll.

17 May 1993

The relationship between me and my chairmen was stipulated explicitly in the agreement signed by Foltz and Meyerson: I was to work directly for the chairmen. This stipulation rescinded a phrase in Foltz’s job offer of 25 March 1993, which would have had Kimbro allocating the councils’ tasks to me on behalf of the chairmen. (This arrangement was not acceptable to then LAS Chairman Da Costa, who was present during negotiations.)

4 November 1993

At a meeting with Cameron, Joseph, and me, Kimbro said that she was in the process of writing up policies and procedures of the area councils and a manual of job descriptions of all staff, a draft of which she expected to be ready by February. Both faculty chairmen told her that they expected to have input in these documents. No such documents ever appeared.

Oct 1994 - fall 1995

The University recognized Joseph as my supervisor in all aspects of the audit of my job, including official forms, notifications, and interviews. No one conducting the audit or responding to it ever challenged his authority as department chairman or his role as program director and supervisor.

7 Nov 1994

G. Smith, in a memorandum to the chairmen about centralizing accounting in the YCIAS, nevertheless reaffirmed “the freedom of each council to develop its own programs and priorities.”

Aug 1995 - present

The published “mission statement” of the YCIAS affirms the authority of a council for its “own professional and clerical support staff.” No relationship is described between the YCIAS directorate and the council staff beyond the latter being “chosen by the Council … head in concultation [sic] with the Center’s Assistant Director ….” (On the other hand, the “mission statement” twice affirms that the professional and clerical staff of the YCIAS exist also to support the work of the Councils.)

12 Dec 1995

G. Smith, in a written reply to W. Parker, appeared to confirm what he termed Parker’s “long held views” that the power of directing and firing lay with the council chairmen by referring him to the acting chairman of the LAS council for information about my firing instead of answering his inquiry directly or referring him to other YCIAS staff.

Last updated 11 March 2022 (Friday) at 18:45:42 EST