The Yale Corporation this weekend authorized the addition of two new residential colleges, officially setting into motion the University’s largest expansion since co-education four decades ago.

Yale College will grow by about 15 percent as part of the expansion, which University President Richard Levin announced in an e-mail message to the community on Saturday morning. The new colleges are expected to open in 2013.

The Yale Corporation voted to approve the construction of two new colleges in early June. The expansion will lead to a 15 percent increase in the student body as well as additional dorms and classroom space, Levin said this weekend.
The Yale Corporation voted to approve the construction of two new colleges in early June. The expansion will lead to a 15 percent increase in the student body as well as additional dorms and classroom space, Levin said this weekend.

“This expansion,” Levin wrote, “will allow us to make an even greater contribution to society by preparing a larger number of talented and promising students of all backgrounds for leadership and service.”

The official authorization by the Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, amounts to little more than a formality, as Levin and Corporation members had endorsed the prospect of expansion in February, curtailing any suspense as to whether the plan would move forward.

It also comes in spite of widespread criticism from students, who questioned whether the Prospect Street location of the new colleges would isolate their students from the rest of campus, or that the expansion might shatter Yale’s treasured intimacy or overburden its faculty. With that no longer a matter up for discussion, the great debate next school year is likely to be over the names of the colleges — and the architects who should be hired to construct them.

Controversy aside, the authorization nonetheless marks a historic moment in Levin’s 15-year tenure, the last 10 years of which the president has spent working behind the scenes to bring today’s announcement to fruition. With a $22.5 billion endowment and its lowest admissions rate in history, Yale is “well poised” to expand, as the president put it.

In the message, Levin charted the rise in Yale’s selectivity over the decades and made the case that expanding access to the University is a prudent step to further its mission.

“The aim of this education is the cultivation of citizens with a rich awareness of our heritage to lead and serve in every sphere of human activity,” Levin said. “Today, we have a long queue of highly qualified applicants who collectively would allow Yale to make an even greater contribution to society if more could be educated here.”

A Renaissance for Science Hill?

The colleges, to be located behind the Grove Street Cemetery along Prospect Street, will allow the University to increase the size of the undergraduate enrollment by some 15 percent while also easing overcrowding in the existing residential colleges, a step administrators say they hope will largely eliminate the dreaded annexing of upperclassmen.

Students have criticized the expansion on a number of fronts, and in his message Saturday, Levin promised that the University would take those concerns to heart.

With the expansion, Yale will increase the size of its faculty, expand its advising system and add amenities like classroom space, a gym and a theater to Science Hill in an effort to make the location of the new colleges more hospitable, he said.

Levin argued that the expansion will have the dual purpose of better integrating Science Hill into what students today consider the central campus, a point administrators have seized upon in recent months in arguing in favor of the colleges’ location.

$3.5 Billion ‘Within Reach’

As expected, the Corporation also authorized an increase in the goal of the Yale Tomorrow capital campaigning, bumping its aim from $3 billion to $3.5 billion to help support the expansion. The increase in the goal of Yale Tomorrow was not unexpected, as the campaign is already a full year ahead of schedule and did not include the new colleges among its initial fundraising priorities.

Vice President for Development Inge Reichenbach said Saturday that she expects Yale’s benefactors to react “not just positively, but enthusiastically” in supporting the residential college expansion.

“Based on the experience of the campaign to date, and a careful review of the opportunities of the next three years, we are confident that a $ 3.5 billion goal is within reach,” Reichenbach said. “We believe we will be able to maintain the annual totals of about $500 million in commitments that will get us over the $3.5 billion goal.”

Levin said the University has already secured $140 million in gifts and pledges for the new colleges, a promising start considering the Corporation has already ruled that unlike as with most other Yale buildings, donors will not be allowed to attach their names to the new colleges.

In fact, the question of what the colleges will be named is poised to become the great debate of the 2008-’09 school year, now that students can no longer occupy themselves arguing over whether Yale should be expanding in the first place. Administrators have promised that the community will be able to weigh in with suggestions for whom the new colleges should honor.

A Call For Student Input

Yale College Council President Rich Tao ’10 said he hopes Yale officials will take students’ views into account on more issues than just that question.

“As opposed to treating the recognition of student opinion as a mere formality — as the administration has done at certain instances in the past few months — President Levin and others involved with the expansion need to sincerely and substantively incorporate the student body into the actual decision-making process,” Tao said Saturday.

“At the end of the day,” he added, “the crux of the expansion boils down to questions regarding how it will affect the day-to-day life of students, and who better to turn to regarding student issues than concerned and educated students themselves?”

Indeed, there is much still to decide, as the Corporation’s authorization does little more than to set the ball rolling on what will be a five-year effort leading up to the expected opening of the new colleges in September 2013.

For instance, another looming question — and one that administrators will move to decide over the coming months — is which architect will be hired to design the two new colleges. (They are expected to comprise what could be the most expensive single construction project Yale has ever undertaken.) A preliminary budget projection put their cost at close to $600 million, which would make them the most expensive residence halls ever erected on an American college campus.

More precise information about the cost, naming and architecture of the new colleges is expected to emerge over the coming months. But in the meantime, this much is official: Yale is now on its way to becoming a world of 14 colleges — officially.

Levin closed his message with a reflection on the heritage of class of 1897 graduate Edward H. Harkness, who provided the funds to create the residential college system in the first place.

“Since then … the student body has doubled, women have been enrolled, and young people have been welcomed from more than 100 nations,” Levin said. “Remarkably, the members of this vast and vibrant enterprise still consider themselves part of a family. This is Harkness’s great legacy, and one that we will preserve in a new era of expansion.”

Previous News coverage of Yale’s path to fourteen colleges:

  • Corporation to vote on new colleges this weekend (6.6.08)
  • Alumni mount campaign for Swensen’s name on new college (4.18.08)
  • Corp. discusses colleges (4.15.08)
  • Yale Corp. will not vote on new colleges (4.11.08)
  • To Grove Street Cemetery: Tear down that wall (4.4.08)
  • Decision to bar donors’ names from colleges sets Yale apart (4.1.08)
  • Morse, Stiles beat out Taft and Webster (4.1.08)
  • Yale Tomorrow may raise goal (3.28.08)
  • Sociology Dept. to look for new home if colleges built (3.7.08)
  • YPD likely to grow with expansion (3.7.08)
  • New college names are not for sale (2.29.08)
  • More lab spaces a must for expansion (2.29.08)
  • With growth, hope to drop the ‘Science’ from the Hill (2.27.08)
  • Levin eyed expansion for 10 years (2.26.08)
  • Corporation endorses colleges, orders expansion studies (2.25.08)
  • At Woodbridge Hall, a rare face-to-face (2.25.08)
  • Princeton offers cues to college construction (2.25.08)
  • Corp. to meet today for vote (2.22.08)
  • Univ. sees Prospect as only viable site (2.20.08)
  • Expansion plans call for eliminating annexation (2.20.08)
  • Locals in dark on colleges (2.20.08)
  • Report identifies necessary changes (2.19.08)
  • Students indignant over dinner (2.19.08)
  • Expansion: Not if, but when (2.15.08)
  • Committees set to release reports (2.14.08)
  • Elis remain lukewarm about college expansion (2.11.08)
  • On student minds, Rihanna — not residential growth (1.31.08)
  • Corporation to meet once more before Feb. vote (12.7.07)
  • Veteran Sledge pushes for expansion of student body (12.5.07)
  • More Elis could opt to go abroad (12.4.07)
  • Increased enrollment could bolster sciences (11.30.07)
  • Improved city relations may enable expansion (11.30.07)
  • Univ. to conduct student poll (11.8.07)
  • Current course models to change with growth (11.8.07)
  • Students mixed on expansion (11.5.07)
  • Gym could be built on Hill (11.1.07)
  • Size increase would alter department profiles (11.1.07)
  • Decades ago, two new colleges greeted eagerly (10.31.07)
  • Enrollment would rise 12 percent (10.29.07)
  • At forums, Elis focus on location of proposed site (10.26.07)
  • Few attend forum about new colleges (10.25.07)
  • Expansion projected at $600M (10.23.07)
  • Colleges decision delayed (9.6.07)
  • Ivies plan for future growth (4.30.07)
  • Alumni discuss naming (4.18.07)
  • Donors talk new colleges (4.11.07)
  • YPU debates new colleges (2.16.07)
  • Alumni back new colleges (2.13.07)
  • Study of colleges picks up (2.9.07)
  • Growth may cut annexing (10.30.06)
  • New colleges cause local stir (10.17.06)
  • New colleges may line Prospect St. (10.10.06)
  • Space frees up in Grove Street area (10.2.06)
  • Univ. mulls effects of potential expansion (9.29.06)
  • Study on expansion accelerates (9.25.06)
  • New colleges would help to ease current crowding (2.27.04)
  • Comments

    • alum

      For the new colleges to feel less remote, the number one priority is for the streets of New Haven need to be more walkable. These distances are largely psychological -- particularly to pedestrian students who are forced to cross streets like Elm and Grove on a daily basis. If our streets were designed for people, rather than for moving the greatest number of automobiles as rapidly as possible, the entire dynamic of our city -- socially, economically and environmentally -- would change and hundreds of preventable traffic-related injuries would be avoided. Distances would feel shorter. The perceived "lack of walkability" factor was even referred to in the Study Report on the colleges.

      Please read the petition posted at http://www.newhavensafestreets.org/ and sign if you agree. A broad coalition is needed to address these issues and start planning our city using 21st century principles, rather than 1950s principles.

      Particularly in light of the 11-year-old girl killed in a hit and run on Whalley Avenue last week, and the number of Yale students killed or severely injured in traffic-related incidents just in the past year, it is clear that the time for change is now.

    • @alum

      Yes, if there were less cars, there would be safer streets.

      Are you serious?

      We Yalies need to be careful to look both ways when crossing the street. If students are smart enough to pass intro psych, they should be smart enough to cross the street safely to get there.

    • yale 08

      Also, a larger and more energetic police force would do far more to increase safety than limiting traffic. As far as I remember, far more students were injured in muggings or assaults during my four years than car accidents around campus.

    • Yale '09

      Yale compares poorly to Oxbridge, especially Cambridge, precisely because of this.

      While the streets in Oxbridge are friendly to hoards of pedestrians, in New Haven they divide the Yale campus into what sometimes feels like isolated islets.

      I remember distinctly it was a major turn-off as a visiting student.

    • copper crutches

      i was extremely cautious for years and years, to the point of paranoia,and just when i put my guard down POW ,we really should'nt have to be so diligent especially at crosswalks.
      Most of the perpetrators are reckless drivers who've been there and done that before, one more ticket and they are thru

    • Jack

      Look. When I cross streets in New Haven, I'm frightened by careening cars running red lights. It's an epidemic. But when I drive down Elm St, I'm petrified by Yalies blithly strolling across the street, against traffic, chatting away on cell phones.

      Everyone needs to follow the rules-- pedestrians and drivers alike.

    • anon

      yale 08, ever consider that that's probably because you never heard about them?

    • Mansfield

      If the police actually enforced moving violations instead of concentrating on parking tickets, the streets of new haven would be a lot safer. Sure, the city does not get revenues from moving violations as they do for parking tickets, but when was the last time a parked car hit a pedestrian or cyclist?

    • anon

      Jack, when is the last time you recall that a pedestrian killed a driver?

      Meanwhile, just within the past few months, a Yale Medical Student and an 11-year-old student at a New Haven school were killed by cars, and numerous other pedestrians, including Yale students, have been severely injured or paralyzed.

      Speed limits in densely populated pedestrian areas should be reduced/traffic-calmed to 15-18mph, no ifs ands or buts. That's what they do in every other civilized country in the world and it is time to do the same here.

      Not only would this make things safer for walking, it would greatly boost economic development. it is a win win for everyone; why is ConnDOT standing in the way?

    • Bob

      @ Yale '09:

      You've got another year at Yale. Please use it (between trips to Toad's) to learn the difference between "hoards" and "hordes."

    • Anonymous

      It's a city. Everybody needs to obey traffic laws, not just the plebes in the cars.

    • @#11

      True. Except I think the New Haven drivers' moving violations are more atrocious than those of drivers anywhere else I've lived. I once saw, on Chapel St. in front of Starbucks, a car drive around the car in front of it in order to run a red light. It was especially scary because I was crossing the street at the time--in the crosswalk, quite legally. Also, I shouldn't have to look both ways on one-way streets. Moreover, on College St. in front of Silliman there are road signs which clearly say that pedestrians in the crosswalk have the right of way, but more often than not the drivers on that street speed up and/or honk at you when you try to cross. So while, yes, all pedestrians should exercise common sense and adhere to the traffic laws, I am in complete agreement with whoever said that the speed limits should be lowered in areas with heavy pedestrian traffic, and that the NHPD should crack down on moving violations.

    • P/T pedestrian

      Please allow me to get this straight; the universe is (we are told) expanding, Y.U. is expanding, therefore perhaps the AM train schedule from points south to north may lend itself to expanding (i.e. expansion).
      Note: Presently, the earliest trains from points south arrive no earlier than 7:45 AM; a time much too late for some mass transit commuter wanna-be's during these critical days (& certainly not commensurate to the needs of a city of this stature).

    • Do Something

      When I wanted to legally cross a busy intersection in another city, where I was repeatedly cut off by offending traffic I carried a digital camera and snapped the car/plate numbers in the cross walk in front of me. Other drivers saw me do it and "got it" very quickly and slowed down forcing traffic behind them also to slow down. Put up a web site with the graphic evidence (plate numbers clearly visible in the cross walk in front of you) to indicate to drivers that it is not always unnoticed at the expense of a pedestrian.

    • Ninja La Chug

      It must be something in the New Haven water, because I have never ever seen that sort of wanton driving anywhere else in my entire life. Drivers ignoring traffic signals? What's next, drivers going 10 mph over the speed limit? This has got to stop, and as someone who's lived my entire life in the suburbs I can safely say that I've never been afraid to cross the street in my quiet development back home.

      In fact, I have half a mind to call up Barack Obama and John Sidney McCain and ask them why they aren't dealing with this burgeoning burden upon students.

      We, as students at a nationally respected university, should not be expected to survive in a medium-sized urban setting or to look both ways before we cross the street. We have more pressing concerns, like how to safely get to SSS while balancing a latte in one hand, carrying bagel in the other, and talking on the KRZR phone we've sandwiched between our chin and shoulder. While wearing distinctive white earbuds.

      I for one, would welcome any attempt to design metropolitan traffic regulations with a view to accommodating our awesome Yaleness.

    • anonononononononon

      All this talk of traffic and drivers is a tangential distraction.

      The discussion should revert to what's central and important: What names should the new colleges be given?

      So crucial.

    • Anonymous

      Batman and Robin?

    • Cole Porter

      Delovely and Delicious?

    • Anonymous

      >>You've got another year at Yale. Please use it (between trips to Toad's) to learn the difference between "hoards" and "hordes."<<

      Just call them " streetwalkers ".