As we charge toward the end of the spring semester, this is the season for special occasions here on campus (not to mention some serious hay fever). On Wednesday we will hold one of my favorite annual Yale traditions: the Long-Service Recognition Awards dinner, when we honor staff colleagues celebrating “milestone” anniversaries at Yale. The 305 employees we will recognize this year—from those who have been here for twenty-five years to one man, longtime Yale Dining chef Joseph Veronesi, who has fed generations of students during his fifty (!) years on campus—represent a staggering 9,180 years of collective service to the university. Our staff members sustain our traditions and support Yale’s core mission, and it is both a privilege and a pleasure to take this opportunity to say a resounding “thank you” for their dedication.
A few weeks ago, we fêted a milestone of a different sort: the beginning of construction of the two new residential colleges. Anyone who has walked along Prospect Street these past several months—and especially our colleagues at Yale Health, who have a bird’s-eye view of the site—will tell you that this work is, in fact, already well under way. But the warmer weather and sunny skies proved a perfect time to welcome back to campus many of the alumni and friends who have made this progress possible through their support of the project. It was an honor to be joined by President Emeritus—“President 22,” as I like to call him—Rick Levin, from whose vision the new colleges were born; Deans Jonathan Holloway and Bob Stern; and a number of our most devoted and generous alumni to mark the occasion. It is exhilarating to know that, just twenty-seven months from now, the new colleges will be opening their doors to their first cohort of students.
Speaking of undergraduates, I know I am not the only person here on campus who feels a special kind of excitement during our annual Yale College “Bulldog Days” (which took place on April 20 to 22 this year). With 1,200 newly admitted students and their family members traveling to New Haven from forty-nine states and twenty-one countries, current students opening their residential suites to host them, and hundreds of faculty members welcoming the visitors into their classes—not to mention an academic fair, extracurricular bazaar, s’mores, pizza, and more!—the sense of fun and of the future were both palpable. I enjoy encountering prospective freshmen, their schedules and guide books in hand, asking for directions as they navigate their way around Yale; in an instant, I am transported back to my own first steps on this campus, and to the feelings of opportunity and awe that they inspired.