Working Toward the Common Good

November 10, 2016

To the Yale Community,

I write at a moment of transition in our nation, a moment in which unprecedented levels of negativity, partisanship, and polarization have characterized the U.S. presidential campaign and the public discourse around it. Institutions of higher learning have a special role to play in our democracy, and none more so than Yale. We should engage in the debates of the day—exercising our full commitment to diversity, inclusion, and the free exchange of ideas—and in so doing seek to elevate the level of the discussion. As members of a university community, we are obliged to engage fully with each other, speak frankly, listen carefully, and seek common ground. This was the message of my baccalaureate address last May, and it seems quite relevant to our current times.

Americans have elected a new president, and no matter what views any of us held leading up to the election, all of us have an interest in what happens next. Yesterday, President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump all sounded gracious notes signaling that our country will make this transition of power peacefully, as we have throughout our history. I hope everyone in our community will take heart from their words. This is a moment for all of us to act with decency, show respect to each other, and take the high road. We must not allow the historically divisive campaign to infect our campus with a comfort for intolerance. This has been a tumultuous period for all of us, but it is now the time to care for each other, empathize with each other, and embrace each other, no matter our political differences.

There is no doubt that it will take the very best minds and the most energetic leaders to address the challenges we face in the United States and around the globe. We join in this work every day in our classrooms, our laboratories, our residential colleges, and our libraries and collections. The strength of our campus and our nation derives from the vibrancy of our differences and from working together toward the common good.


Peter Salovey
President and Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology