First note from Woodbridge Hall

July 1, 2013

It has become customary, on the first day in office, for Yale’s new president to offer a few thoughts on the future. I am honored to continue that tradition.

Today, even as I attend to the mundane tasks of moving into my new office in Woodbridge Hall, I will be thinking about how best to serve the faculty, students, staff, alumni, and friends of Yale.  In the past six months, I have been impressed anew by your dedication to sustaining the excellence of our university, and throughout my presidency I will rely on the collective wisdom of our Yale community.  I look forward to years of listening to you, being inspired by you, serving you, and collaborating with you to continue to ensure that Yale is a model of higher learning and scholarship, a source of leadership in every sector of society, and an inspiration to the world.

In addition to listening to you, I plan to communicate with you, in the hope that our dialogue will forge the positive working relationships that will benefit all of us and help us to be good and effective stewards of this university. Every few weeks or so, I will write a brief note – like this one – to let you know where I have been, how I have been spending my time, and what I have been thinking about. I plan to focus my efforts in four areas: a more unified Yale, a more accessible Yale, a more innovative Yale, and a more excellent Yale. In speaking with so many of you, I have heard exciting ideas about how to realize these ambitions, and I look forward to continuing these conversations.  To keep the community informed, I will post messages, speeches, and other information at a new web site ( This site also provides a link for you to contact me. I welcome your feedback, observations, and suggestions, and I hope to hear from you, just as you will be hearing from me.

Some years ago, I quoted the great Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore in a freshman address.  That quotation captures what I believe all of us, working together, are called to do; that is, to continue to make Yale a place:

“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depths of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward … into ever-widening thought and action ….”

I am honored and humbled by your trust, inspired by your confidence, and optimistic about the years to come.