GESO Chair Mary Reynolds questions the media buzz, in light of Yale Provost Susan Hockfield’s appointment to MIT’s Presidency, about her tenure at Yale:
Hockfield was often called on to be unflappable, as Yale dealt with a $30 million deficit and a union strike last year. Facing demands from frustrated graduate students, who unsuccessfully appealed to the university to recognize their union, Hockfield came through it without losing the students’ respect, said Pasko Rakic, the neuroscience professor who recruited her to Yale. “If you give them bad news, they hate you,” he said, “but she told them, and they didn’t hate her.”
One graduate student, however, disputed the idea that Hockfield handled the issue smoothly. Mary Reynolds, a doctoral student in American studies and a leader of the graduate student union, said that Hockfield stifled dialogue between union members and administrators by denying multiple union requests for meetings. “I found that she shut down discussion and refused to speak to students in the union,” Reynolds said. “She was not a consensus builder. The administration was opposed to the union, but that shouldn’t stop her from speaking to graduate students.” Reynolds also questioned Hockfield’s commitment to family concerns, citing a meeting between members of her department and Hockfield in 2001, in which the graduate school dean was unresponsive to requests from student assistants for help with affordable day care.