Retired profs to get new center

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With funding from an alumni donation, Yale will open a center for retired professors this winter, faculty members said.

The center will share the building at 149 Elm St. with the Yale Visitor Information Center, which currently occupies the space. The building, which is the oldest on the New Haven Green, is currently under construction. Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead said the University is establishing the center in order to create an academic hub for retired professors who may otherwise feel cut off from the Yale community.

“The University is making moves to improve the lives of retired faculty,” Brodhead said. “The idea is — [to] create a continuing academic community.”

American Studies and English professor emeritus Alan Trachtenberg, who retired last December and serves on the center’s advisory committee, said the center is likely to open in January and will contain office space for retired professors.

Trachtenberg said the participating professors will be “fellows” of the center. Because of space constraints, professors will have to apply for the offices and will probably occupy the spaces on a rotating basis. Trachtenberg said he expects “a couple dozen” professors to be affiliated with the center at its inception.

Trachtenberg said Yale asked the committee, which was formed two years ago, to imagine that funds were available to create a center for retired professors. The committee was then charged with suggesting ideas for how the center should be run, he said.

Former Yale President and professor emeritus of history Howard Lamar said he is excited about the project because it will create an avenue for academic interaction between retired professors.

“This is a very happy event,” Lamar said. “This provides an opportunity which did not exist before — [It] promises to be a real center for retired faculty interchanging with one another in terms of ideas and meetings.”

Trachtenberg said having a central location for retired professors will allow for more “organized and facilitated” teaching.

Currently, many retiring faculty members wish to maintain ties with the University, and the center will provide them with the opportunity to continue interacting with students, Trachtenberg said. Some of these retired professors may teach seminars, he said.

“[It will] allow the University to take advantage of the intellectual and academic resources of those among the [retired] faculty who want to remain available to students,” he said.

Trachtenberg said he expects the center to be a vibrant academic community.

“[The center] is not meant to be simply a place where you go and put your books down — and put your feet up on the desk,” Trachtenberg said.

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