Thoughts for the end of the year

May 5, 2014

It has been a busy couple of weeks for everyone on campus. I spent a few days in Washington, DC, attending a meeting of the AAU Presidents and then we welcomed the Sterling Fellows to campus for a couple of days. Commencement is on the horizon, and Woodbridge Hall has morphed into “graduation central.” Shortly after Commencement, we will announce the new deans of Yale College, the Graduate School, and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. And this Saturday, May 10, is the Yale Day of Service, which involves Yalies all over the world in service projects in their communities; I encourage you to participate.

As we complete the work of the semester, I would like to reflect just a bit on this past year. As your “freshman” president, I am delighted to be completing my first two terms!

Of course, the inauguration was a highlight of this year for me, but what made that occasion so special was getting to meet so many members of the Yale community. I have continued to benefit from hearing from you in the months since then about what we can do together to make a great university even better.

  • There are many priorities that will continue to be important assignments for all of us. I highlight here just three:
  • Strengthening our campus climate: We have continued to make significant strides this year in addressing sexual misconduct and we have intensified our focus on alcohol and other drug use on campus, but we all have more to do to ensure that our campus is a safe place where everyone is treated with respect.
  • Balancing our budget: As the overall economy begins to show some slight but welcome improvements, we hope to achieve and maintain fiscal equilibrium on campus. Dealing with the budget crunch has been challenging, and I am grateful for all the ways that so many of you stepped up to meet that challenge.  

Building for the future: I am excited that we are on track to reach our fundraising goal for adding two new residential colleges, to offer a Yale College education to about 200 additional students in each cohort. We continue to develop spaces and programs that make the best use of Yale’s resources: faculty members across the campus are formulating new programs that cross disciplines; students are creating new ventures with support from the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute. All this “building” will benefit Yale, our home city of New Haven, and our region in the years to come, and we will need to be wise about how and where we grow.

It has been an exciting and wonderful year! And I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve Yale in a new role. I plan to continue to send these messages throughout the summer, and I look forward to keeping you updated as I start to prepare for the next academic year. In the meantime, I will be thinking of (and thanking!) all of you in two weeks as I look out on the sea of faces when I celebrate my first Commencement as president of this great university.