Levin urges Corporation to approve expansion plans

University President Richard Levin said Monday that he would recommend that the Yale Corporation proceed with planning to build two new residential colleges.

In an e-mail to the Yale community, which included the release of a long-awaited report examining the viability of expanding Yale College, Levin said he would ask the Provost’s Office to develop estimated capital and operating budgets for the construction and operation of the new colleges and for the Development Office to prepare a fundraising plan for those expenditures.

University President Richard Levin speaks at an open forum sponsored by the Yale College Council last year. Levin discussed the reasons behind Yale’s decision to consider expanding with the construction of two new residential colleges.
Ming-Yee Lin
University President Richard Levin speaks at an open forum sponsored by the Yale College Council last year. Levin discussed the reasons behind Yale’s decision to consider expanding with the construction of two new residential colleges.

“The expansion of our student population will give Yale the opportunity to deepen and enhance its contribution to society, fulfilling our vital mission to educate the most promising for leadership and service,” Levin wrote.

The report — prepared over the last year by two committees appointed by Levin to study the ramifications of expansion on student life and the University’s academic resources — recommends more than a dozen steps the University should take to ensure that expanding the residential-college system strengthens and does not diminish the quality of a Yale College education.

Among those recommendations, as expected, are bolstering the campus transportation system; eliminating the annexing of juniors and seniors on Old Campus as a result of overcrowding; and building a “third building” adjacent to the new colleges so as to attract more students to the Science Hill area.

The report also urges administrators and academic departments to reconsider their needs on a wide range of levels, from advising to classroom space, in order to ensure the faculty is not overburdened by an expanded enrollment.

“If you look at really large departments like Econ or Poli Sci, the D.U.S. is under stress to manage that number of students already,” said Joseph Gordon, the dean of undergraduate education and the chairman of the committee that examined the impact on academic resources. “If you had 10 percent more, it may be past a kind of point of manageability.”

Some departments, like many of the foreign languages, will need to hire faculty in significant numbers to teach introductory courses, Gordon said. Other departments, like Political Science and Economics, will be in need of ladder faculty to teach junior- and senior-level seminars, which are already in high demand, he said.

But across the board, if the University follows the recommendations laid out in the report, the majority of the members of the two committees concluded they would support expansion, said Gordon and former Calhoun College Master William Sledge, the chairman of the student-life committee.

The new question, it seems, is whether the University will be able to pay for it all. Sledge, for one, said it appeared the committees’ recommendations were more wide-ranging in scope — and, therefore, in cost — than some administrators had anticipated.

“I think what had not been appreciated were the facilitating costs, like scaling up the faculty, classrooms, performing arts — these things that aren’t directly related to the residential colleges,” he said. “I don’t know if [administrators] know yet if Yale can afford it.”

After reviewing the report, the Corporation is expected to vote Friday on whether to proceed with planning for the expansion. The Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, is widely expected to weigh in favorably on the expansion plans — especially now that Levin has publicly backed it.

Levin’s public pronouncement in favor of the colleges is likely to draw significant criticism from students, who have widely opposed the expansion plan at open forums held in residential colleges this fall as well as in interviews over the last two semesters.

Earlier this month, a News poll of 362 undergraduates found that the expansion proposal — as endorsed by Levin — has the support of only one in four Yale students. In the fall semester, only 23 percent of students supported the expansion.

Students’ most oft repeated complaint has had to do with the location of the colleges. Indeed, according to the report, 70 percent of respondents to an internal poll conducted by the two committees said they were opposed to the designated location for the colleges — behind the Grove Street Cemetery on Prospect Street, a spot administrators have long said was not up for negotiation.

While the Provost’s Office will determine a more precise budget, early estimations put the construction cost of the two new colleges at nearly $600 million, according to University budget documents obtained by the News last fall. The two new colleges would likely be the most expensive residence halls ever erected by an American university.

The construction of the two new colleges would allow the University to bump the enrollment of Yale College from 5,300 to about 6,000, an increase of more than 10 percent and the largest such increase in decades.


  • sayno

    so president levin has his way….even though half of the student body opposed this expansion

  • anon

    #1, more than half would oppose this plan if they realized that the new location will kill Yale's unique campus life, which is predicated on the fact that any student or faculty member can walk from one college to another within 2 minutes.

    The location of the new colleges will result in a campus "human scale" that effectively transforms Yale from the strongest and most intimate academic community into just another large school like Stanford, Michigan or Cornell.

    This is not about the new colleges, it is about the location of the new colleges! New colleges are a great idea, but they need to be built within the central campus precinct like all of the other ones. HGS and the site adjacent to the Yale Music School are the two obvious locations.

  • Anonymous

    It's amazing how anyone would think that student opinion would be the decisive factor here. This plan is bigger than the 5300 students who happen to populate Yale right now.

  • Anonymous


    Yale is yale because of its intimacy and clost knitted community. More than academics, this feeling of community is what makes Yale SO UNIQUE!!
    How will this be preserved with the two new colleges? It won't…

  • Anonymous

    like if a "juice bar" on science hill will be substitute for the unique Yale experience given by the community that are the 12 existing residential colleges.
    instead of expanding, Yale should enhance existing resources. make more grants and funds available for students for summer study, research, or work. Improve quality of some departments, improve existing programs.
    you can't give a step forward if you have not already secured a firm step to start with.

  • Anonymous

    um theres something already at hgs and the yale school of music. i think its called, um, what is it?, lemme think…oh ya: hgs and the yale school of music! people are already there. yale *college* is part of yale #university#. while whats being expanded is yale college, yale college exists alongside other parts of the university. theres no other way about it.

  • Yale College grad

    I am a 2007 alum of Yale College, not a graduate or professional school. But nonetheless how can all of these undergrads think that it is reasonable or appropriate just to uproot HGS or the School of Music or anywhere else so that undegraduates could avoid five minutes more of a walk? Graduate and professional students are established with their buildings and facilities, too.

    Also, let's be serious--it just doesn't take "2 minutes" to walk from TD or Silliman over to Pierson or JE--maybe more like 10? So what if it takes 5 minutes longer to walk to your friend's house who lives the farthest away? People walk to places off campus all the time that take longer than 10 minutes to get to, to meet people living off campus or go out or whatever.

    What makes Yale different from those other schools is, I think, not the amount of time it takes to go from dorm to dorm. It's the fact that the vast majority of students live in housing assigned to them starting their first year, so they don't self-select their dorm-mates and they do have friends to go see across the campus. That is not going to change.

  • anon

    They need to hire a better campus planner, not have more consultation with current students.

    New colleges in this location will destroy what makes Yale Yale.

    I might add that in addition to overlooking student concerns, they are also overlooking the concerns of many faculty members -- especially those who live on or near the campus, such as the college masters. Faculty don't want to walk a mile to see another college master any more than a student wants to walk a mile to visit their friend from section. And it's not about whether faculty or students CAN get there, it is about whether they actually will get there on a regular basis. Unplanned campus interaction is the essence of Yale, and what makes Yale the greatest university in the world.

  • Anonymous

    Fire Levin. Who says students don't have a say? All I know is this, I applied to Yale for the small size and intimacy, the big schools turned me off. This will only decrease Yale's reputation. We need a president who cares. And why not a different location? There's one, no two, vacant spots on broadway! Hello!

  • Anonymous

    I'm consistently amazed by the commenters who claim they can get to any friend's dorm within two minutes. Not if they were in Morse, Stiles, TD, Silliman or Swing Space!

  • ttttttttttt

    It's amazing no one comments on the price per student these new dorms will cost. You could build homes for thousands, provide scholarships, pay for healthcare for Grad students…anything at all. But all the undergrad community is concerned about is the walking time? Never mind the fact none of us will be here when these are completed. Yale wants your check, to cater to people willing and able to pay tuition we're getting a palace to live in. Wonder why no one takes us seriously when we speak about social ills?

  • Hieronymus

    If one did away with that gawdoffal Divinity (HA!) school, one could move the School of Music to a preferable location (and HGS folks would LOVE a new dorm in the Science Hill area…especially Engineering students).

    As for building homes, feeding the poor, and whatnot--you do what you want with YOUR money…

  • Anonymous

    I find it amusing how many undergrads suggest turning graduate facilities into their own dormitories. I have news for you: we outnumber you at this school, and we find you even more irrelevant than you find us.

  • WTFF!

    Hello Earth To Levin. WE DO NOT WANT THIS. Please don't ruin the University for future Yalies. Intimacy is Yale, and if that means rejecting qualified students (which won't change by expanding the university anyway) so be it. Do something completely necessary for the students who do get in like expand financial aid, and making abroad programs more affordable, or how about doing what ALL the IVYIES but Yale already have, by offering no to low income students assistance for travel and books!

  • Anonymous

    #13…Think about who gets first use of rooms such as the Law School Auditorium, 8 Prospect Place, HGS, etc. for classes. Hint: It's not YLS. Grad students are guests here; you're not integrated into the colleges (like at Oxbridge) for a reason…

    I guess I might resent being a sideshow, too.

  • Anonymous

    they should turn yankee doodle into a college and call it yankee doodle college. that way yankee doodle will stay around and everyone will finally be happy!

  • Anonymous

    This expansion should be seen in a broader context. There is no way that the far-off location of 2 colleges is going to end intimacy as we know it at Yale. Yale can't simply rest on its laurels. Other major global universities are expanding constantly, and if we want to keep pace, we have to do so too. The expansion will help fund a better student body--one not diluted by athletic recruits, for instance--and help support a larger and deeper professorate. Don't forget that our campus already stretches to Science Hill. Adding colleges out that way merely solidifies Yale's presence in an area that it already embraces. As Yale expands--this will probably not be the last time, everyone!--Yale will probably look increasingly dense in that seemingly far-off direction too.

    And for all those who want to talk about the moral high ground? Do you actually think that it's fair that so few enjoy so much when in fact more might learn at Yale and benefit from her resources? Perhaps denouncing the colleges is akin to denouncing a somewhat more inclusive (yes, that means larger) university.