For the past two weeks, I have been BIRGing. This term, from my field of social psychology, is based on the acronym for “basking in reflected glory.” And such glory we have had: a community-wide celebration of Yale during the inauguration week with the gathering of friends and colleagues from around town and around the world (a special thank you to all who worked so hard to make it happen); two Nobel prize winners among our own faculty, Bob Shiller and Jim Rothman; the largest gift in Yale’s history, $250 million given by Yale alumnus Charles Johnson; and the brilliant teaching that enlightens our students every single day on this campus.
Through our varied connections with Yale, we share in her achievements. When a member of our community is honored, we are all honored. When an investigator makes a breakthrough discovery, we all benefit. When our hockey team wins the national championship, we all feel like winners! This collective sense of accomplishment lifts our spirits and our aspirations. As we bask in the reflected glory of the excellence that we experience at Yale, we all become better people, unified in celebrating this grand institution.
And in difficult times, we are also unified in our support and care for each other. Many on campus are mourning the sudden death last week of Leslie Woodard, dean of Calhoun College, and the death of Professor Gus Ranis, a faculty member at Yale since 1960. As we grieve the loss of our colleagues—who have been teachers, mentors, and friends—we recognize the sustaining power of our Yale community, and we come together to honor the memory of those who have left an indelible mark on so many lives.