About the Alumni Fellow Election

Yale alumni vote each year to elect one new alumni fellow to the Yale Corporation, the university’s governing board.

The Alumni Fellow Election is managed by the secretary of the university on behalf of the Yale Alumni Association (YAA). The process is guided by the Miscellaneous Regulations of the Yale Corporation and the University Charter.

The Yale Corporation

The Yale Corporation, or board of trustees, is the university’s principal governing body. In comparison to those at many other institutions of higher education, Yale’s board is small and plays a uniquely active role in university governance.

As fiduciaries, the trustees ensure that Yale’s academic and administrative leadership are guided by sound policies and practices, and equipped with adequate resources, to further Yale’s mission. In this work, they balance the needs of today’s faculty, students, alumni, and staff with those of future generations.

The Corporation has sixteen trustees: ten appointed successor trustees, each limited to two six-year terms; and six elected alumni fellows, chosen by alumni for staggered six-year terms. Successor trustees and alumni fellows carry the same responsibilities and duties. The president of the university chairs the board. In addition, the governor and lieutenant governor of Connecticut are board members ex officio. The Corporation has thirteen standing committees with responsibilities outlined in the by-laws.

Learn more about the Yale Corporation.

Alumni Fellows

According to the University Charter, granted by the Connecticut state legislature, six trustees of the Yale Corporation are elected by eligible alumni* for staggered six-year terms. They are designated with the title of “alumni fellow.”

* See “Voter Eligibility” below.

Read the University Charter.

Voter Eligibility

The University Charter states that all graduates of Yale College who have held their degrees for five years or more, all alumni of the graduate and professional schools, and all individuals who hold Yale honorary degrees are eligible to vote in the alumni fellow election.

Alumni Fellow Nominating Committee

The Yale Alumni Association (YAA) appoints a nominating committee to seek out and present a slate of candidates who are exceptional leaders, thinkers, and innovators both in and beyond their fields and whose expertise and experience complement those of current trustees. This committee is called the Standing Committee for the Nomination of Alumni Fellows, also known as the Alumni Fellow Nominating Committee.

Per the Yale Corporation’s Miscellaneous Regulations, the committee consists of the following members:

  • the entire YAA Board of Governors or no fewer than six members of the YAA Board, appointed by the chair of said board, who have at least one year remaining in their terms of service
  • a current member of the Corporation (appointed by the Yale Corporation’s Trusteeship Committee)
  • the chair of the YAA Board of Governors (ex officio)
  • the vice president for alumni affairs and development or his or her designee(s) (ex officio)
  • the secretary of the university or his or her designee(s) (ex officio)
  • the president of the University Council (ex officio)

The committee chair is appointed by the chair of the YAA Board of Governors from among the YAA Board members on the committee. The executive director of the YAA serves as the committee’s nonvoting secretary.

For more information about committee members’ terms of service and eligibility, see Section 1, I.A.ii. and I.A.iii. of the Miscellaneous Regulations.


Candidates selected by the Alumni Fellow Nominating Committee (AFNC) to stand for election must be Yale College alumni who graduated at least five years ago or graduates who have received any Yale degree higher than the first (bachelor’s), whether honorary or in course.

For each alumni fellow whose term on the Corporation is expiring, the AFNC may nominate no fewer than two and no more than five candidates to fill the vacancy.

Petition Candidates

The Miscellaneous Regulations of the Yale Corporation provide instruction regarding petition candidate definitions, eligibility, criteria, and deadlines.

According to the Miscellaneous Regulations, up to three candidates who meet the Nomination Criteria (see Section 1.II.D.) may seek placement on the Alumni Fellow ballot each year.

The petition period begins at the closing of the polls in the immediately preceding Alumni Fellow Election through the Petition Deadline of the same year. The Petition Deadline is 11:59 p.m. EDT on October 1.

Note: Eligible alumni who seek nomination by petition should contact the Office of the Secretary at (203) 432-6602 or alumnifellowelection@yale.edu no later than March 15, prior to the beginning of the petition period, to review the criteria and process for collecting signatures of Qualified Electors in support of their nomination.

Election Administration

The secretary of the university, supported by the secretary’s office, manages the election on behalf of the Yale Alumni Association.

The university engages Election Services Corporation of Ronkonkoma, New York, a firm that is expert in providing these services to higher education, corporate, and nonprofit organization clients, to manage the distribution of election materials and the tallying of votes.

Timeline and Ballot Distribution

Late Winter/Early Spring – The secretary of the university sends an email to alumni who have an email address on file with the university, notifying them of their eligibility to vote in the upcoming election. Alumni are given the opportunity to update their contact information and may opt in to receive election materials and a paper ballot by U.S. mail.

Early Spring – The election launches. Alumni with email addresses on file are sent a unique election validation number and invited to cast their ballots electronically via the official election website. Alumni who requested a paper ballot will receive one via U.S. mail.

Alumni who cannot be reached via email will receive a postcard in the mail with instructions on how to vote online. (Alumni who prefer to vote via paper ballot may request paper materials before May 10, 2019. Please make this request as early as possible, and allow enough time for the ballot to be returned before the deadline.)

Late May – The University Charter specifies that the election ends on the eve of Commencement.

In 2019 the voting deadline is Sunday, May 19, at 11:59 p.m. ET. Late ballots will not be counted.

Late May/Early June – The results of the election are publicly announced. An email is sent to alumni, and results are published on the Office of the Secretary and Yale Alumni Association websites.

Voting Methods

As noted above, alumni may vote in one of two ways:

  1. Electronically via the official election website (with the unique election validation number provided via email or postcard)
  2. Via paper ballot

Alumni who receive paper ballots can vote online or by enclosing their completed ballot in the return envelope provided in the election materials. Official ballots contained in plain envelopes addressed to the mailing address listed below will also be accepted.

Secretary of Yale University
Vote Tabulation Office
c/o Election Services
P.O. Box 9020
Ronkonkoma, NY 11779

Election Services Corporation tabulates the votes on behalf of the university and will record only one vote per person.

Replacement Ballots

The regulations of the Yale Corporation specify that “a replacement ballot may be issued to a qualified elector only upon written application to the secretary of the university, stating that the original ballot was lost, mutilated, or destroyed.” Electors may make written application for a replacement ballot until early May. Alumni who wish to participate in the election should act as early as possible to ensure that their completed ballot is returned by the election deadline. Written application may be made via email to the Office of the Secretary or by sending a letter to:

Alumni Fellow Election
Office of the Secretary
Yale University
P.O. Box 208230
New Haven, CT 06520-8230


The results of the election are typically announced by the president during the Saturday of the first Yale College reunion weekend, which takes place the weekend following Commencement. An email to all voters is distributed following this announcement.


The Alumni Fellow Nominating Committee selects candidates based on their ability to bring perspective and expertise to advance the university’s mission—and not based on their stance on any particular issue or representation of a particular constituency or viewpoint. To ensure the participation of the most qualified individuals, it has been a long-standing practice that alumni fellow candidates stand for election solely based on the information included in the official election materials.


The Alumni Fellow Nominating Committee encourages alumni to submit recommendations for future alumni fellow candidates.

Submit a nomination.