For the first time in two decades, a candidate is running for Yale University’s influential board of trustees without support from the school itself.
He is the former United States ambassador to Poland and longtime Knoxville, Tennessee, mayor Victor Ashe, and he will face off on Wednesday against Morehouse College president David Thomas.
In a bizarre twist, the university has not yet disclosed Thomas’s candidacy, and the school was not planning to make an official announcement about its candidate until Wednesday, according to an email obtained by the Washington Free Beacon — the day that voting begins. Voting will take place until May 23, during which time, the email indicates, Ashe is “not [to]campaign or otherwise advocate” for his candidacy.
Ashe will face off against Thomas for a seat on the school’s governing body, which is charged with hiring the university’s president, approving staff tenure and pay, and managing the school’s portfolio and budget. The board, known as the Yale Corporation, operates largely in secret, barring its selected candidates from responding to inquiries prior to or during the election. Nor does the school provide information on its selected candidates’ positions on issues facing the university prior to the vote.
“It’s designed to preserve the status quo and prevent any inquiry into the background,” Ashe said. “Totally contrary to the great traditions that Yale has stood for in the past and it’s not consistent with free and open discussion and debate on issues.”
The insurgent effort to bring transparency to the Ivy League schools come as some of the university’s most prominent professors speak out against voting restrictions elsewhere in the country, including the state of Georgia. Business school professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, for example, organized a recent call for business leaders in which he urged them to use their influence to oppose any legislation that restricts voting.
Ashe’s candidacy is part of a longstanding trend on Ivy League campuses, which have seen prominent graduates push back against the powers that be at their alma maters. Dartmouth College made national headlines in the 2000s when a handful of insurgent candidates ran successful petition