New Haven and Yale: Three Centuries of Partnership

Peter Salovey, President of Yale University
May 3, 2019
New Haven Chamber of Commerce 225th Annual Meeting

Thank you, Jeff, for the warm welcome. And thank you, Garrett, for inviting me to give a keynote address for your 225th annual meeting. I want to thank Jennifer DelMonico for her service as chair of the Board of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce. And I welcome Jeff Klaus, the new board chair.

The last time I had the honor to speak with you was for your 220th annual meeting—during the first spring of my service as president of Yale. Mayor Toni Harp and I were both new to the office then. She and I, two Yale graduates, have worked for many years on our common goal: to encourage more young people to put down roots, develop careers, and add their talents to the rich mix of what makes New Haven a great place to work and live.

We know that Yale and New Haven share a destiny. Yale’s strong relationship with New Haven is built upon three centuries of shared history and commitment to improving our city and world in many different ways. And today, as the Chamber of Commerce recognizes its past accomplishments and looks to create an even more solid foundation for economic success in the coming years, I want to speak with you about all the ways our partnership strengthens Yale and New Haven, and the exciting work ahead of us.

Our partnership creates opportunities for the talented youth of our city

One of the most important things we have worked on together is to improve educational opportunities for the youth of our home city. Nearly a decade ago, Yale and New Haven launched New Haven Promise. This program provides scholarships for those who graduate from a public school in our home city to attend college in Connecticut. The average Promise Scholarship is approximately $5,000 per student per year. Yale provides up to $4 million per year every year to provide college scholarships for the program’s students. 

The university also has focused on forming partnerships with New Haven public schools and on developing summer and school-year enrichment programs, such as Pathways to Science and Pathways to Arts & Humanities.

When Yale and New Haven citizens collaborate to develop new and creatives ways to contribute to the growth of young people in our city, we are enriching all our lives and improving our future.

Our partnership is vital to higher education

As we work together to provide opportunities for our youngest scholars, we also look ahead to the next step in their lives. All of us know that higher education is invaluable to the well-being and success of our home city. We have the good fortune of being in a place that offers a great range of colleges for our students.

We know that affordability and access to higher education are among the most pressing issues we face as a society. A college degree increases life-long earnings, fuels social mobility, and contributes to a more educated citizenry. And, of course, a college education is its own reward. For years, we have been working to expand access to Yale and improve affordability. In the 1960s, Kingman Brewster, president of Yale at the time, introduced need-blind admissions at the university. This was a vital step in helping Yale attract more talented students from diverse backgrounds.

I am proud today that the current first-year class is the most socioeconomically diverse in the history of Yale College. This year we offered more than $160 million in financial aid, helping to make a Yale College education affordable for every student. Yale is free for students with family income below $65,000. Currently, over half of undergraduates receive a need-based scholarship—the average annual grant amount is over $53,000. Over 86 percent of the Class of 2018 graduated debt free. On campus, more than 1,000 undergraduates now qualify for  federal Pell Grants for low-income students, including nearly twice as many in the first-year class compared with five years ago. Almost one in five of first-year students are the first in their families to attend college, an increase of 75 percent over the same period.

Opening our doors to talented students, regardless of their financial means, enriches our campus community and our home city. It is my hope that many of these students will remain in New Haven after graduation.

Our partnership creates a vibrant and healthy downtown

Another result of our partnership over the years is a vibrant and healthy downtown that helps to attract more talented students and scholars from around the world. In recent years, we have seen a wonderful renaissance in New Haven. Your businesses—new retail, dining, and cultural attractions—help make our campus and surrounding neighborhoods exciting places to live and visit. The Shops at Yale have flourished. National retailers—such as Apple, J-Crew, and L.L. Bean—are thriving alongside local, independent merchants and restaurateurs in over 100 storefronts. 

Other developments are contributing to a vibrant and dynamic New Haven, such as the arts incubator NXTHVN. NXTHVN is co-founded by Yale graduate Titus Kaphar and opened recently on Henry Street in Dixwell.

Our partnership in arts and culture is good for the city’s commercial enterprises

The arts have always helped to bring the people of Yale and New Haven together—and have drawn visitors from around the world to the Yale campus and our city. The Yale Center for British Art and Yale University Art Gallery, which are cost-free, attract thousands of visitors every year. They host a variety of programs for children, families, senior citizens, and teachers. They foster connections among neighbors and guests.

Last year, Yale received the Governor’s Patron of the Arts Award. Yale was selected in recognition of our work in the arts across disciplines and our many extracurricular arts programs and venues that are open to the public. Yale’s collections enhance the art community in New Haven, and the vibrant culture of our home city enriches arts education and scholarship on our campus. We are all part of an ecosystem whose component parts support each other and thrive.

Our partnership creates employment opportunities and bolsters economic development

In my nearly four decades at Yale and in New Haven, it has been wonderful to work with you to create lasting and positive change here. And I am particularly honored to be serving a university that is an economic anchor for our home city. Yale employs over 15,000 faculty and staff. And about 30 percent of the Yale community resides and shops in New Haven. Like you, the university has also been a leader in hiring residents from the city, with a particular focus on neighborhoods with highest rates of unemployment and poverty.

Overall, Yale has contributed over $40 million to city-wide economic development initiatives, such as Start Community Bank, Economic Development Corporation of New Haven, Market New Haven, New Haven Works, and the International Festival of Arts and Ideas. And Yale contributes over $10.2 billion annually to the Connecticut economy, including spending on construction and renovation. I look forward to more opportunities to working with you to improve the economy of our city and state.

For this reason, I am enthusiastic about Governor Lamont’s appointment of Joe Giulietti, an expert on rail systems, as Commissioner of Transportation. We have to be serious about improving rail service for New Haven and Connecticut, for the benefit of all of our enterprises. And this appointment is a wonderful sign. I also commend the governor for offering legislation to update the state’s authority to enter into public-private partnerships in transportation, which would help the state to find the best and most efficient solutions to upgrading the New Haven line. And because creating jobs is a top priority, we also need more flights from Tweed.

In this room, I am preaching to the choir when I say that better train service and flight options will grow the economy of our home city and state significantly. These improvements will attract more talented young people to work here and to build startups and businesses—particularly for the biotech and digital sectors.

Our partnership brings innovation

Speaking of startups, you know well that Yale’s focus on science and innovation is also good for economic development in our home city. For example, in January, we celebrated the opening of Quantum Circuits Inc., or QCI. QCI is a startup founded by Yale investigators who are pioneers in quantum computing. Their goal is to develop, manufacture, and sell the first practical quantum computers. QCI will further enhance New Haven’s reputation as a hub for technology and innovation. Governor Ned Lamont SOM ’80 was on hand for the ribbon-cutting.

Startups with ties to Yale, like QCI, employ over 1,000 people in our home city. In the past 10 years, 130 companies, based on Yale discoveries, have been established in partnership with Yale’s Office of Cooperative Research. Many ventures have been launched by Yale faculty, alumni, and students. Recent high-tech companies that call New Haven home are developing cancer therapies, antibiotics, and new green technologies based on Yale research. They enrich our city and neighborhoods, and their discoveries are making a difference around the world.

In the years ahead, Yale is prepared to join you in “leaning in”—to be even more active partners in helping the state to enhance the economy. Yale, our neighboring colleges and universities, and the businesses in our region have a depth of talents and assets in innovation. I am excited to see what more we will accomplish together as we leverage commerce, education, and research for economic growth.

Our partnership makes Yale and New Haven global leaders

As our city and university grow as hubs of innovation and in economic strength, we also become more global. We are solidifying New Haven’s role as a global city, and Yale as a leading global research university.

Last month, we announced that Yale will be creating a new school for global affairs. Our Jackson Institute will transform into the Yale Jackson School of Global Affairs. The founding of the Yale Jackson School provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to strengthen Yale’s role in educating global citizens and leaders who will write international law, direct global corporations, shape economic and climate policies, lead militaries, and much more. 

The Yale Jackson School will not only raise Yale’s profile as a center for global scholarship, ideas, and influence, it will bring even more international focus to New Haven. For example, a few weeks ago, John Kerry, who is teaching at the Jackson Institute, hosted his third conference at Yale. This conference on “Challenges to Democracy at Home and Abroad” brought to Yale and New Haven specialists and leaders across political boundaries, including Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice, and Hillary Clinton.

In the years ahead, Yale and our home city will continue to broaden and strengthen our global connections—a key to our future. And we will continue to celebrate and embrace newcomers from around the world. New Haven has a robust immigrant population, and Yale enrolled 2,996 international students from 123 countries this year. Our embrace of diversity is morally right and economically smart and enriches our area’s academic institutions.

Our partnership serves the people of our shared communities

As we look to increase our influence around the world, we also focus on our neighbors at home. Members of the Yale and New Haven communities are deeply committed to service.

In the coming year, the United Way of Greater New Haven will be commemorating its 100th year. The United Way focuses on the health, education, and financial security of individuals in our community—making a lasting difference in the vitality of our city. I am proud that Yale and United Way have a deep and meaningful partnership that reflects the university’s special relationship and responsibility to the city.

Over the past three decades, Yale employees have contributed close to $21 million. I want to thank you all for your strong support for United Way and for ensuring that we do not look past the people who need our help. Due to our combined efforts, the United Way programs assisted over 50,000 people in the Greater New Haven region last year.

Another way we serve our shared communities is by supporting our public library. We should all cheer the great news that our New Haven public library is one of 15 finalists this year for the nation’s highest honor, the National Medal, from the U.S. Institute for Museum and Library Services. I am proud to co-chair, with Mayor Harp, the current effort to raise $2 million for the expanded Stetson Library being built as a cornerstone of the Dixwell Community Q House. We are at 85 percent of goal, thanks to a broad-base of donors including many companies and individuals in this room. Marta and I are donors, and Yale has made a leadership gift of $250,000. As we enter the homestretch, I hope everyone here will look to be on the donor board for this important campaign.

And as we approach summer recess, I am reminded that many Yale students remain in New Haven and volunteer through one of the university’s service organizations. For example, last summer, 27 President’s Public Service Fellows volunteered in a wide variety of community organizations, including Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services and legal, housing, and youth programs. 

Of course, Yale students also collaborate with New Haven residents on service projects all year long. Each year, two-thirds of our undergraduates engage in community service activities through Dwight Hall, our campus community service organization founded in 1886. Their work adds up to more than 150,000 hours committed to local projects and organizations. I am inspired by the way our friends and neighbors give their time and expertise to serve in our communities.



Even after 38 years at Yale and New Haven, I am still impressed by the array of people who work together to contribute to our home city.  We bring different skills and viewpoints to our roles, and yet we are all engaged in improving lives today and building a better future. I look forward to further strengthening New Haven with you in the coming years.

Thank you for 225 years of contributions to a partnership that has helped Yale and New Haven thrive!