Administrators are determined to name the two new residential colleges after famous Yale affiliates, not donors, but fundraising for the project has slowed as a result.
Since the Yale Corporation endorsed plans for the new colleges in 2008, the University has raised only $145 million of the $500 million required for their construction, Vice President for Development Inge Reichenbach said. Both Reichenbach and University President Richard Levin said reserving the naming rights has made it harder to attract lead donors for the colleges, but follows the precedent set by the other 12 colleges.
“It would be a very attractive opportunity for donors to [name the colleges],” Levin said. “But I believe the Corporation had good reason to make the decision to keep with the tradition of colleges named for distinguished graduates of Yale or distinguished Yale figures.”
Levin said the names will not be chosen until the Corporation decides to move forward with construction, after a majority of the funding has been secured through gifts.
In February 2008, when the Yale Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, ruled that Yale would reserve the right to choose the colleges’ names, Corporation Senior Fellow Roland Betts ’68 told the News that under no conditions would the naming rights go up for sale, regardless of the size of a donor’s gift.
This decision has shifted the Office of Development’s fundraising strategies for the residential colleges, Reichenbach said. Rather than soliciting one large gift to anchor each project, Reichenbach said her office has sought out a larger number of individual donors to contribute more modest amounts. She added that the financial crisis, which first hit in 2008, has slowed the pace of donations.
Yale has offered the naming rights to other buildings for sale. In December, Yale announced a $50 million gift from Ned Evans ’64 to construct the new campus for the School of Management. In honor of the gift, the building will be named Edward P. Evans Hall.
Donors can be memorialized on a smaller scale, she added: although the colleges’ names themselves are not for sale, donors can select spaces within them to name, such as the gymnasium or the library.
“The project itself has a lot of naming opportunities [within the colleges] that we can work with,” Reichenbach said. “So that’s terrific.”
She added that not all donors seek this kind of recognition.
The Corporation’s decision to preserve the colleges’ naming rights was unanimous, Betts told the News in a Thursday interview, calling the choice one of “principle.”
“I absolutely stand by it,” Betts said. “Yale has put donor names on all kinds of buildings, of professorships, of programs — but never on the residential colleges. That decision is not going to be revisited and sooner or later we’ll get the money for the colleges.”
Potential donors who have inquired about naming the colleges have usually gone on to make gifts to other areas of the University, Betts said, so he does not think Yale has lost donations overall. He added that he believes the stagnation in giving to the project is a result of the recession, not the reservation of naming rights.
As University officials plan their fundraising priorities after Yale Tomorrow ends June 30, constructing the residential colleges is at the top of the list, Reichenbach said. The last year of the campaign has increased giving levels, and she said she hopes the momentum continues and brings in gifts to all of the University’s priorities — including the new colleges.
“Every time we are going through an admissions cycle … it reminds us how important it would be to provide a place for all of these wonderful students,” she said.
When the University finishes constructing the new residential colleges, Yale College will increase its enrollment from 5,300 to roughly 6,000 — the largest addition to the number of students in the College since the admission of women in 1969.