The director of Yale University’s esteemed Grand Strategy program resigned this week, citing pressure from donors to install Henry Kissinger on a five-member ‘board of visitors’ to the course.
“It’s very difficult to teach effectively or creatively in a situation where you are being second-guessed and undermined and not protected,” historian Beverly Gage told The New York Times in an interview.
The Yale Grand Strategy program was founded in 2000 by historian Paul Kennedy and diplomat Charles Hill (a former advisor to Kissinger) to teach students statecraft; guest professors have included Generals Stanley McCrystal and David Petraeus. Gage served as director to the program since 2017, expanding the course’s curriculum to cover social justice movements like the Hong Kong and U.S. protests.
Two prominent Yale donors took issue with this direction: former Reagan Treasury secretary Nicholas Brady and mutual fund billionaire Charles Johnson. According to Brady, Gage wasn’t teaching Grand Strategy “the way Henry Kissinger would.”
“I said, ‘That’s absolutely right. I am not teaching Grand Strategy the way Henry Kissinger would,’” Gage told The Times.
Despite the director’s objections, Yale went ahead with installing the board, which in addition to Kissinger also included Stephen J. Hadley (former national security advisor to George W. Bush) and Thomas Kean (former Republican governor of New Jersey). No members with social justice backgrounds were included.
“He represents the opposite of the generational shift I have been trying to make,” said Gage of Kissinger.
Gage resigned her post, pointing out the irony that Yale’s Grand Strategy program came under criticism at a time when many are concerned about the lack of political diversity on college campuses.
“This program really tried to be something that lots of people say they want universities to be: a place of open engagement across ideological lines,” continued the historian.