Harvard-Yale draws alumni, not funds

The seasons come and the seasons go, but this weekend alumni from around the country will return to Yale to watch the Harvard-Yale football game and relive their happy, golden, bygone college days.

While alumni support through donations has decreased recently due to many factors, including the state of the economy, Yale President Richard Levin said the University will not use the weekend’s alumni events as fundraising opportunities.

“We don’t do our fundraising at these kinds of loyalty building events,” Levin said. “We let people enjoy the events.”

The Association of Yale Alumni and other Yale graduates have organized events for the week, including a leadership conference, a ball and a reception before the game to bring alumni together. Alumni will also organize individual class tailgates, AYA Executive Director Jeff Brenzel ’75 said.

Though Brenzel and Levin said The Game is not an opportunity to raise funds, Levin said bringing alumni back to campus can only add to their sense of loyalty to Yale.

He said when visiting alumni notice improvements made around campus and the surrounding city of New Haven, they may be influenced to give.

“Whenever you get people back to campus, it’s helpful,” Levin said. “People who come back who have seen the improvements are usually pretty impressed.”

The University also benefits from the loyalty alumni display when they return for The Game, Brenzel said. Many alumni take it upon themselves to maintain Yale connections, he said, and these connections contribute to alumni giving.

“Alumni self-organize to maintain Yale connections, and the University benefits from the fact that alumni want to make some [financial] return for what they feel they received here,” Brenzel said.

Brenzel said he expects many alumni, especially graduates who live on the East Coast, to return to their alma mater. This week, in conjunction with The Game preparations, the AYA held its annual leadership conference.

The AYA Assembly, including 500 alumni leaders, converged on campus to participate in various programs Thursday. Today these alumni will attend the Blue Leadership Ball co-sponsored by Yale Athletics and AYA at the Lanman Center. Eight hundred more alumni and their guests will join those already on campus Saturday morning at Coxe Cage for a pre-game reception.

Events like these organized by the AYA keep alumni linked to Yale, Brenzel said.

“It sustains people’s connections,” Brenzel said. “It’s truly one of hundreds of different ways alumni stay involved in Yale.”

While Brenzel said it is always a “profound pleasure to beat Harvard,” he said he feels most alumni return to see old friends.

“The spirit people have for this place revolves around what people shared here,” Brenzel said. “The people who graduate from Yale tend to think it’s unique and an incredible place for building lifelong friendships and relationships.”

Brenzel said the weekend of The Game is always “great fun” because it allows alumni to rekindle their college memories.

“It’s a reinforcement of something that was profoundly good in their lives,” Brenzel said. “That’s the spirit that comes out at the Yale-Harvard game.”

The Rose Alumni House is the headquarters of the Association of Yale Alumni, which hosts an assembly this weekend. While the event is not intended to raise funds, it does keep alumni connected to the University.
Carolyn Tan
The Rose Alumni House is the headquarters of the Association of Yale Alumni, which hosts an assembly this weekend. While the event is not intended to raise funds, it does keep alumni connected to the University.

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