During a celebration of the Elm City’s history — from its founding 375 years ago to the last 20 years of improved relations between New Haven and Yale under the leadership of Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and Yale University President Richard Levin — 11 individuals were honored at a historic Elm-Ivy award ceremony Wednesday afternoon.
Established in 1979, the Seton Elm-Ivy ceremonies honor members of the Yale and New Haven communities who have worked to improve the relationship between the University and the city. Among those receiving awards at this year’s ceremony were emergency responders in Yale and New Haven, the executive assistants of both DeStefano and Levin, and a Yale student who runs a dance program in New Haven Public Schools. DeStefano and Levin received special Elm-Ivy Awards for their extended dedication to town-gown relations over their respective careers.
“Our collective work to enhance the partnership between Yale and the city of New Haven is creating such incredible positive change for everyone in our community,” said Leif Mitchell, an award winner who is the assistant director of the Community Research Core in the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS at the Yale School of Public Health.
In Levin’s inaugural presidential address in 1993, he outlined his goal to have Yale contribute more to the New Haven community. Two decades later — through a partnership with DeStefano, 1,000 new Yale homeowners and 50 new bioscience and other startup companies — Levin was honored for remembering the commitment he made to New Haven at the beginning of his presidency. DeStefano and Levin join an elite group of only 10 other individuals who have received the special Elm-Ivy Award since its founding.
Mitchell was among those who received an Ivy Award, which is given to Yale faculty, staff and students. Other recipients of the Ivy Award were Jane Levin, director of undergraduate studies in the Directed Studies Program; Ayana Jordan, a resident in psychiatry at Yale-New Haven Hospital who has helped support a local shelter and mentor New Haven students; and Molly Gibbons ’14, the coordinator of the Yale Co-Op Dance Collaborative.
For Jane Levin, the wife of University President Richard Levin, the award is the culmination of over 40 years of work in New Haven. Levin has served as a volunteer and board member at the Neighborhood Music School, and has devoted time to New Haven Free Public Library, the Hopkins School and Amistad Academy public charter school.
“Rick and I have lived in New Haven for 43 years, since we came to Yale as graduate students in 1970,” Levin said. “All four of our kids were born and grew up in New Haven, so we were deeply conscious of the importance of the well-being of New Haven.”
In contrast to Jane Levin’s 43 years in New Haven, Gibbons has only spent three in the city. In that time, she has become the president of the Yale & Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School Dance Collaborative, which is a group of Yale students that teaches various styles of dance to a group of Co-op students every Friday afternoon.
Representing the Elm side of the Elm-Ivy Awards were Rosemarie Lemley, executive assistant to the mayor of New Haven; Rick Fontana, deputy director of emergency management for the city of New Haven; and Daisy Abreu, deputy director of the Town Green Special Services District. While emergency management in New Haven has been tested over the past few years with two hurricanes and a powerful blizzard, the team has worked to keep both Yale and the city safe. Fontana called the relationship between Yale and New Haven “stronger than ever.”
Since 1979, nearly 400 individuals and organizations have received Elm-Ivy Awards.