Maya Lin says no to donor sculpture

Maya Lin ’81 ARC ’86, best known for her design of the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in Washington, D.C., has turned down an opportunity to create a monument in a prominent campus location that would have honored some of Yale’s most generous alumni donors, administrative sources said.

University officials are now considering alternative ways to express appreciation to those who give more than $300,000 in conjunction with the University’s Fourth Century Initiative, which will be unveiled Friday by Yale President Richard Levin. Vice President of Development Charles Pagnam said Lin spurned Yale’s offer because she felt she had already contributed a campus sculpture in the form of the Women’s Table, but she is still helping University officials to find an appropriate medium to honor the alumni donors.

Lin did not return phone calls last night.

Fund-raising efforts are a major facet of Yale’s tercentennial celebration and wealthy graduates have been lobbied in advance of the Alumni Convocation this weekend.

The Fourth Century Initiative is a one-time fund raising project designed to “support President Levin’s leadership in building an even stronger Yale” and is “an ideal way to celebrate the Tercentennial,” according to a letter sent to a group of 3,000 select alumni by the Yale Development Board.

Accompanying the letter is a short illustrated booklet describing the University’s most pressing needs. Improving Yale’s standing in the sciences and engineering, setting a new standard for graduate education and student life, developing special competencies in information technology, and increasing the University’s global presence are among the priorities mentioned in the publication.

Noted Yale benefactors Holcombe T. Green Jr. ’61 and Frances Beinecke ’71 FOR ’74 sent the letter and booklet in recent weeks to fellow graduates who have donated in the past or whom the University views to have the capacity to offer a major gift in the near future. The letter tells alumni that sizeable donations to the Fourth Century Initiative made between now and Dec. 31, 2001, will be honored “in a form reflecting the importance of the occasion.”

Pagnam said significant fund-raising progress related to the initiative had already been made.

Lin’s sculpture would have been her second major monument at Yale. She also designed the Women’s Table, which celebrates the arrival of women at the University in 1969. Her other works include the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Ala., the Park Presideo in San Francisco, and the Center for African Art in New York.

The Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, her first and most famous work, is often referred to in Yale tours. The design for the memorial was initially submitted as part of an architecture class she took as an undergraduate, and it went on to beat out thousands of entries in a national competition.

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william goldman
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