Summer Sojourns

July 6, 2015

What does a university president do for a summer break? I can’t speak for my Ivy League peers, but for me, the real start of the season is ROMP, the annual festival and homage to all things bluegrass that takes place in Owensboro, Kentucky, each June. (I chaired the board of the International Bluegrass Music Museum, and ROMP is its big annual fund-raiser.) Music may not be my life’s work, but it is certainly a life’s passion—an artistic outlet and a source of community. I know this is true for so many of you as well, whose educations and professions are only enhanced by complementary pursuits. So, whether it’s hiking or horticulture, sonnets or sailboats, travel or tango, spinning yarn or spinning discs, our “extracurricular” activities enrich our lives and are essential parts of our selves.

Summer is a great time to reconnect with those selves—and not just of the bass-playing variety. Marta and I love Connecticut in every season, but this is a particularly beautiful time of year to savor the natural charms of our state and our region. I hope that you will take time to sojourn this summer, even if only to your backyard with a good book.

Of course, the possibilities of the season are not just about disconnecting; they’re about reconnecting too. Later in the summer, the university’s faculty and administrative leaders will be joining me in kicking off our strategic planning for 2015-16 and the years ahead. All over campus, our employees are using the summertime to jump-start their own priority projects, from faculty conducting research to staff developing new initiatives to strengthen the university.

And our students’ summer undertakings can be as integral to their academic careers as the time they spend in the classroom. Yalies are interning with organizations including a soup kitchen in Washington, D.C., the Renewable Energy Alaska Project in Anchorage, and the Primo Center for Women and Children in Chicago; studying capacity development among community health workers in South Africa; examining the impact of glacial loss in the Pacific Northwest; carrying out research at the headquarters of the Population Foundation of India; establishing a community-led summer classical music concert series in the Harlem and Washington Heights neighborhoods of New York City; investigating the effects of shale-gas extraction on the quality of freshwater; and pursuing government fellowships in the White House, Department of State, and congressional and senatorial offices—and that is just a random sample!

Wherever the season takes you—students, alumni, staff, faculty, New Haven neighbors—I would love to hear from you, or even see a photo or two from your travels and projects, at