Retired professors finally have a permanent place to call home.
The Yale Visitor Center and the Henry Koerner Center for Emeritus Faculty will share the newly renovated building at 149 Elm St. — Pierpont House, the oldest residence in New Haven. The first floor of the 18th-century house is once again home to the Visitor Center, which offers student-led tours to prospective students and other visitors, while the Koerner Center on the second and third floors will open late next month as a center for retired professors to meet, work and teach.
The Visitor Center moved back to the Pierpont House Jan. 13, after a year in Dwight Hall, where it was temporarily located during the house’s renovation. The renovations include new wiring, plumbing, roofing, windows, heating and air conditioning, as well as trim and siding repairs.
Koerner Center Executive Director Patricia Dallai said the center is open for drop-ins, though it is not likely be officially up and running until late next month, one month after its expected opening.
The center includes a library, a seminar room, two computer stations, and 12 offices, which will be assigned for renewable two-year terms. Professors with offices are expected to make a commitment to teaching at least one course during their term, Dallai said.
Koerner Center officials said they send out a letter last week to 300 emeritus professors, asking for replies from those interested in being fellows at the center. Dallai said they have already received 100 responses, and she expects more to arrive soon.
Dallai said professors at the center may begin teaching courses as early as next term. Some professors may elect to teach seminars, while others may guest lecture or team-teach.
“We will assist them in teaching whatever courses they would like,” Dallai said.
Surgery professor emeritus Bernard Lytton, who is the director of the center and a former master of Jonathan Edwards College, said he views the center as an “experiment.”
“I hope we will be able to integrate the emeriti into the undergraduate life of the University,” Lytton said.
Visitor Center Director Sheila Pastor said she is delighted with the renovations and glad the Koerner Center will occupy the second and third floors, which were almost entirely closed off before the renovations because of problems with the building.
“I think the two facilities are very compatible,” Pastor said. “I think [the house] is a great mixed use — I’m thrilled that the second and third floor are going to be used in such an ideal way.”
The house was once home to the Yale Faculty Club and later the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. It was built in 1767 by John Pierpont, grandson of Rev. James Pierpont, one of the founders of the University.
Pastor said a New York firm is currently designing exhibits for the Visitor Center about Yale leaders and the history of the University. These exhibits will be installed this spring, she said, and she hopes this will add to visitors’ positive impressions of Yale.
About 40,000 people visit the center each year, Pastor said, a number which she expects will increase because of the renovation and outreach programs.