White on Yale

"AYA Assembly Report"
December 2005

Jim White

The assembly, titled In After Years, focused on what Yale does to prepare its students for life after college. There was a session on career counseling, roundtable discussions on career choices, and a presentation by a social scientist who concluded, you will not be shocked to read, those with college educations earn more over their lifetimes than non-college educated persons and those with select college educations (e.g., Yale) earn still more. On the whole, this subject was not the most interesting.

The Yale Medal Dinner. The AYA awards the Yale Medal to alumni for outstanding individual service to Yale. I mention this for three reasons. First, the dinner is held in the Commons, which showed spectacularly. What a marvelous room, filled with flags, and memories! Second, I sat at dinner with our classmate Larry Lipsher. Larry (as always in great form) headed the AYA some time ago; he is, I believe, the only '62er to receive the medal (if I'm wrong about this, I humbly apologize in advance). Third, one of the medal recipients was a fellow from Louisville honored for a program to bring Yale undergrads to his hometown for service work. He calls his program Bulldogs in the Bluegrass. Now that's a cool name no matter what these kids do when they're there.

New Haven. If you haven't been to New Haven in a while, you're in for a big surprise when you do go. Things are really looking up. The image of New Haven as a downtrodden dangerous place is way out of date. Yale is doing a lot on its own, and a lot in concert with the city. Broadway and Chapel St., for example, have new, attractive shops and restaurants. Residential neighborhoods around the university have been spruced up considerably, in large part attributable to Yale's unique, generous home buyer's program. There's economic development, especially biotech firms and other medical research companies, and an emphasis on "quality of life" issues, such as the summer concert series and arts festival, both on the Green, and the future move of the Long Wharf Theater to downtown, on the site where the Coliseum once stood. Yale's multi-year, multi-billion dollar building program, for new buildings (e.g., on Science Hill and on the medical school campus) and renovation of old ones, notably all of the colleges, one by one, has brought significant job growth to the city. As a result of these and other projects, town-gown relations have never been better; this is the key to the rosy scenario I just painted. In sum, it's a renaissance. A big word, but accurate. Perhaps the outside world (where some of you are?) hasn't gotten the word yet, but the word will be spread. Yale is working on that. As a kid who grew up in New Haven, and who retains the most positive feelings about my home town, all the above is a joy to see and report. For those interested in learning more about New Haven, here is a list of books of interest: [1] City: Urbanism and Its End, by Douglas Rae, Yale University Press (2003); [2] New Haven: From Puritanism to the Age of Terrorism, by Michael Sletcher, Arcadia Publishing (2004); [3] New Architecture in New Haven, by Don Metz (text) and Yuji Noga (photographs), M.I.T. Press (1966); [4] New Haven: An Illustrated History, eds. Floyd Shumway and Richard Hegel, Windsor Publications (1981); [5] Three Centuries of New Haven, 1638-1938, by Roland Osterweis, Yale University Press (1953); [6] The Campus Guide: Yale University, by Patrick Pinnell, Princeton Architectural Press (1999); and [7] Yale in New Haven: Architecture & Urbanism, by Vincent Scully, Catherine Lynn, Erik Vogt, and Paul Goldberger, Yale University Printer (2004).

Yale Tomorrow. A buoyant President Levin, boyish-looking still despite his years at the helm, used his time with us — usually devoted to a "State of Yale" speech — to talk about the upcoming capital campaign, to be called Yale Tomorrow. Yale as the university of the future — you get the idea. The campaign will start in 2007 after a September 2006 kick-off. It will focus on new initiatives, and new buildings (as renovation of the old ones continues apace, with Trumbull College the latest to be undergoing a complete make-over). With the endowment now north of $15 billion, one would think this campaign would be a hard sell; Levin said not so, so far so good.

The Game. The Yale-Harvard football game is not part of the assembly itself, but I went anyway, as your representative of course. At kickoff the day was bright and cool. It got darker and colder as the day wore on, in more ways than one. Perhaps I'll stop here. If anyone wants this reporter's view on the game or anything else I've discussed in this report, feel free to e-mail me at Jameskwhite1221@aol.com.

Jim at the informal dinner he and Catherine gave at their home,
during the May '05 Mini Reunion in D.C.

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