Miller Hall Dedication
February 23, 2019
Edited to appear in print.
Thank you for inviting me to say a few words on this wonderful occasion. As I was sitting here in the front row listening to beautiful music and inspiring words, I realized why this project has been so remarkable: it has produced a building of beauty—a space that itself is inspiring.
It is a pleasure to join all of you, the Miller and Tangeman families, President and Mrs. Levin, Chaplain Kugler, Deans Sterling and Blocker, Professor Martin Jean, and all the friends and colleagues who are here today. It is particularly pleasing that we are gathered here in the Tangeman Common Room. This is a welcoming and comfortable room at the heart of an amazing building.
To the Millers and the Tangemans who are here with us and those who came before, we thank you for your generosity and your support for this university. It is an honor to celebrate the gift of the Institute of Sacred Music, now through the completion and renovation of this beautiful home for it. I believe that the ISM exemplifies your families’ commitment to Yale’s mission.
Our mission is to “improv[e] the world today and for future generations” and to “educat[e] aspiring leaders worldwide who serve all sectors of society.” We do that through those who work directly in the fields that come together in this institute. We do it also through inspiring others who will go on in different fields of study. The renovation and renaming of this space is a celebration—a celebration of Yale’s enduring dedication to liberal education, including the study and practice of sacred music and the associated disciplines of religion and all the arts.
I think everyone in this room knows that clergymen founded the Collegiate School, which is the forerunner to Yale College. According to its 1701 charter, the Collegiate School was to be a place “wherein Youth may be instructed in the Arts and Sciences” and “may be fitted for Publick employment both in Church and in Civil state.” The majority of early Yale graduates indeed went on to careers in the ministry. Since its founding, Yale has educated students for many aspects of Christian life and service and now, of course, for life and service beyond Christianity.
For the last 45 years, the Yale Institute of Sacred Music has played a vital role in that education. The institute bridges academic programs at the Yale School of Music and Yale Divinity School, as well as other schools and departments throughout the university. The arts are a cornerstone of Yale’s academic priorities. It is vital to infuse the arts into all parts of our university in order to help us be more creative, to think more deeply, and to do better work. This is what the institute is doing today through its collaborations with scholars and its education of students throughout the university.
The institute has contributed enormously to a phrase I like to use: “One Yale.” In “One Yale,” we are a global research university that gives our superb musicians from across campus magnificent facilities to make music together during their years on campus and beyond. The institute does not just serve the university; it helps Yale share itself with the larger world. As you heard, alumni of the institute are working at cathedrals, in congregations and academic institutions, and in arts organizations in the United States and around the globe…
The institute’s faculty, its talented students, its partners across campus, all embody the spirit of the place and serve as Yale ambassadors—drawing connections across cultural, disciplinary, and national borders. Faith traditions and the arts remind us of what we share with each other. Scholarship in these areas has sparked new intellectual and social movements because music, faith, and scholarship invite collaboration, invite us to work together across boundaries, and allow us to imagine and create new sounds, new forms, and new ideas.
Now, thanks to the incredible foresight and generosity of the Millers and the Tangemans, the extraordinary faculty, students, and staff of the Institute of Sacred Music have a space that is worthy of their dedication and their gifts. On behalf of the entire university, the deans, the former president, the ISM director, and many other colleagues, I thank you once again.
Now, it is my pleasure to introduce William Miller, the president of the Wallace Foundation. Will earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Yale University in 1978. He earned an MBA from Stanford in 1981. Will is a dedicated leader. He has served in civic, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors. In particular, he has been committed to education and has focused his considerable expertise on improving opportunities for young people.
I think you know that from 2005 to 2011, the time when I was a dean and provost, he served on Yale’s board of trustees, the Yale Corporation. Our community has benefited greatly from his wisdom, his talent, and his devotion. Please join me in welcoming Will to the podium to share his reflections on this occasion. Thank you, Will.