About the Alumni Fellow Election

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

The Alumni Fellow Election is managed by Yale’s Office of Institutional Affairs. The process is guided by the Miscellaneous Regulations of the university and the University Charter.

The Yale Corporation

The Yale Corporation, or board of trustees, is the university’s principal governing body.

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, and promote the well-being and excellence of the university.

The Corporation is a uniquely engaged and small group that includes the president of the university and sixteen Yale graduates: ten appointed successor trustees and six elected alumni fellows. Successor trustees and alumni fellows have equivalent responsibilities and duties. In addition, the governor and lieutenant governor of Connecticut are board members ex officio.

Learn more about the Board of Trustees.

Alumni Fellows

According to the University Charter, granted by the Connecticut 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, granted by the Connecticut legislature, 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 Alumni Fellow Nominating Committee, a standing committee of the Yale Alumni Association, is composed of graduates from across the university’s schools and departments, the secretary of the university, and the vice president for alumni affairs and development. Each year, the committee reviews nominations it receives from alumni around the world, and selects for the alumni fellow election ballot exceptional leaders who have the knowledge and skills to serve Yale as trustees. 

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

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. 

The Committee names for each Alumni Fellow vacancy due to occur in that year a sufficient number of nominees so that the total number of nominees for such vacancy, including candidates nominated by petition, is no fewer than two nor more than five.

Petition Candidates

In addition to candidates selected by the Alumni Fellow Nominating Committee, the university’s Miscellaneous Regulations allow eligible alumni to petition for a place on the ballot. A candidate who has obtained the threshold number of valid signatures, i.e., three percent of the eligible voters in the previous year’s election, within the time frame designated by the regulations may qualify for the ballot. Petition candidates are placed on the ballot without review by the Alumni Fellow Nominating Committee. The Miscellaneous Regulations 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 be nominated by petition in any given 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.

Please note: Per the Miscellaneous Regulations (Section 1.II.C.i.), eligible alumni who seek nomination by petition must submit a written and mailed statement that is received by the YAA Board of Governors no later than March 15, prior to the Petition Period.

Questions may be referred to the Office of Institutional Affairs

Election Administration

Yale’s Office of Institutional Affairs manages the election. The university engages Election Services Corporation of Melville, 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 – Eligible alumni who have an email address on file with the university receive an email from Election Services Corporation notifying them of their eligibility to vote in the upcoming election. Alumni are given the opportunity to change or confirm their ballot delivery method (electronic, via email, or in paper, via U.S. mail) and to update their contact information. 

Early spring – The election launches. Alumni with email addresses on file with the university receive a unique election validation number with instructions to cast their ballots electronically via the official election website. Alumni who requested paper ballots receive their materials by U.S. mail. All election materials are distributed by Election Services Corporation.

Alumni who cannot be reached by email receive paper ballots by U.S. mail. 

Late May – The University Charter specifies that the election ends on the eve of Commencement. In 2021 the voting deadline is Sunday, May 23, at 11:59 p.m. EDT. Late ballots are not counted.

Late May/early June – The results of the election are publicly announced. An email is sent to voters, and results are published on the Yale Alumni Association website.

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 printed on the paper ballot)
  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.

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 records only one vote per person.

Replacement Ballots

Electors may make written application for a replacement ballot until mid 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. Once the election launches in the spring, replacement ballots can be requested through a webform that will be available on this website.

Results

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.

Campaigning

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.

Nominations

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

Submit a nomination.