University completes fundraising for colleges

After years of delays and logistical concerns, Yale completed fundraising this summer for the construction of its two new colleges.

University President Peter Salovey announced in early June that the University has reached its $500 million goal for the new colleges, which are being funded entirely through donations. The initiative — Yale’s most ambitious fundraising project since its last capital campaign in 2011 — opens the way for construction of the new colleges to begin in early 2015. The colleges are expected to open for students in 2017.

The June announcement came some eight months after Charles Johnson ’54 gave Yale $250 million for the project. The largest gift in Yale’s history, Johnson’s donation left the University approximately $80 million away from its goal — one that was recently reached.

“I must thank all of the alumni and parents who have helped make this project possible,” Salovey said in his announcement.

The two new colleges — which will be located along Prospect Avenue — were first conceptualized over a decade ago and approved by the Yale Corporation in 2008. However, the project was temporarily derailed by the 2008 financial crisis and was largely dormant until Johnson’s donation.

The construction of the new colleges has raised a flurry of concerns about whether Yale’s administrative and academic resources can accommodate an additional 200 students per class year. According to University Vice President for Development Joan O’Neill, the completion of the fundraising was substantially aided by a $25 million fundraising challenge from an anonymous donor. The challenge matched gifts of $1 million or more on a one-to-one basis. Following their 50th reunion in May, a member of the Class of 1964 gave the final major donation to bring the total to $500 million. O’Neill added that 50 percent of the gifts towards the colleges since Johnson’s have been of $1 million or more.

When completed, the colleges will have 904 beds and increase the student body of Yale College by approximately 15 percent. According to Architecture School Dean Robert A.M. Stern, whose firm designed the colleges, the designs have been finalized.

“Yale is unsurpassed in the quality of its undergraduate education, and I strongly support Rick Levin’s and Peter Salovey’s shared goal to make that extraordinary experience available to more students than ever before,” Johnson said in a statement shortly after his gift was announced last September.

The names of the colleges have not been announced, but administrators have said they will not be named after living donors.

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