|Yale president Salovey spent an evening with Yale alumni in the Greenwich area, taking questions from an audience of over 250 and excusing them later to go watch the Red Sox-Cardinals Series (YWAA, Yale photos).|
New Yale president Peter Salovey '86 Ph.d. has been energized by unusual
adrenaline the past two weeks. There has been a whirlwind of events,
celebrations and occasions, all in monumental proportions. First, he was officially installed at Yale's helm during a festive October weekend with holiday-like fanfare and in the way he preferred--with more tributes to the community of Yale than to himself.
Within days after his inaugural oration at Woolsey Hall, Salovey dashed all over campus for press conferences and media events to (a) celebrate the $250 million gift to the university from Charles Johnson '54 (the bulk of which will be used to fund construction of new residential colleges), (b) celebrate the announcement of not one, but two Nobel prizes in one week to Professors James Rothman (chemistry) and Robert Shiller (economics), (c) greet, glad-hand and welcome to campus Bill '73 JD and Hillary Clinton '73 JD and Stephen Colbert and (d) witness the football team start the season with three consecutive wins.
"I was beginning to worry," Salovey told a group of over 250 alumni in Old
Greenwich, "that the remaining years of my presidency wouldn't measure up to those first two weeks!"
Salovey was the guest speaker at an alumni gathering Oct. 24 sponsored by the Yale Alumni Association of Greenwich. The Greenwich group invited associations and board members from Yale groups in Westchester and Fairfield County. YWAA president Tim Mattison '73 was introduced to the congregation at the event.
Salovey will speak to alumni in New York City at a similar gathering Nov. 6 at the New York Marriott Marquis.
In Old Greenwich, he spoke of Yale's commitment to teaching and cheerfully told how Rothman aborted his Nobel press conference because he had to teach two courses that day. Salovey explained how Shiller teaches an undergraduate intermediate-economics course and is preparing an online course--even as he basks in all glory that accompanies Nobel announcements.
While planning the inauguration, Salovey said, he preferred an event theme of "One Yale." His goal, he said, is to work toward "a more unified, innovative Yale." But his inspirational "One Yale" theme had been pilfered. Harvard had already seized his idea when it decided to brand its latest fund-raising campaign "One Harvard."
He discarded his theme, but will still push for a more unified, more integrated university--where STEM and humanities disciplines complement each other, where athletes exist with artists, and where Nobel prize winners must hurry to prepare macro-economics lectures for Yale sophomores.
Salovey applauded the culture of entrepreneurship on campus. At Yale today, students from many backgrounds, interests and disciplines launch projects, companies, and ideas. He will, however, encourage them to keep their enterprises headquartered in New Haven to help New Haven-area communities benefit from the business ventures of Yale students.
Following the blueprint of Richard Levin '74 Ph.d, Salovey said it's time for Yale College to expand, and it will, once the final round of raising funds for the two new residential colleges is finished (about $75 million to go). He projects construction will start Jan., 2015, and completion might occur in 2017-18.
"Yes, freshmen will live in the two new colleges," he responded to a question, because Old Campus will not be large enough to house the expected increase in first-year students (from about 1,350/class to about 1,500/class). Freshmen in those colleges will bypass Old Campus experiences like freshmen assigned to Silliman and Timothy Dwight colleges. "My niece is (a freshman) in TD, and she's having the time of her life," he said.
"Are any of my students in the audience?" Salovey asked. A few hands appeared slowly. "I was getting worried," he laughed, "that more of my former students were not ending up in Greenwich."
He stopped his prepared speech, probably one he'll give a dozen times in
variations before the end of the year to alumni groups everywhere, and welcomed more questions:
1. Yes, he still plays in his bluegrass band, which just released a CD ("Pick
2. Yes, the football team has improved. Yes, he attends games, if he's in town. But don't forget the current successes of Yale men's hockey and women's volleyball, he reminded alumni.
3. No, the Singapore experiment is not a trial or a plan. The liberal-arts
program launched this year with 145 students and even included students, he said, who had "turned down Princeton and Cambridge to attend."
4. Yes, students worry they must pursue majors and careers in science lest they not have employment opportunities when they graduate. But the arts and humanities, he explained, shouldn't be undermined by the surging emphasis everywhere on STEM programs.
5. Ah, yes, he was delighted when a question touched his area of
expertise--emotional intelligence. He explained the importance of "emotional literacy" in life in the residential colleges, how it was important to have a "rich, emotional life" through ongoing conversation about the arts, humanities, music and drama.
6. Yes, it is true the football coach requires team members to live on campus in residential colleges until senior year. Players become immersed in the verve and essence of college. They also, he added, find new friends who'll support them and actually attend their games.
He excused the gathering and said he sensed most itched to return home to catch what remained of the night's World Series game, Boston vs. St. Louis. Earlier in the evening, he acknowledged he was rooting for the Red Sox and recalled the 1967 Series between the two teams when he was a boy listening on a transistor radio.
An audience member reminded him that he couldn't root against the Cardinals. Its managing partner and chairman (Bill DeWitt Jr. '63) is a Yale alumnus.
Salovey had the last word. The Red Sox have two Yale players, one of whom (Craig Bislow '02) majored in--he enunciated carefully--molecular biophysics and biochemistry.
(The other, Ryan Lavarnway, studied philosophy. Alumnus donor Johnson, by the way, has a one-quarter stake in the San Francisco Giants.)