While many told good stories about Saybrook College at Thursday’s rededication, Joshua Bekenstein ’80 told a tale of the smell that lurked in Saybrook’s TV room before renovations.
But with the smell gone and the college renovated thanks in part to his donation, Bekenstein joined other donors and notables, including Yale President Richard Levin, to rededicate Saybrook in front of about 110 students, faculty and alumni.
Saybrook was the third residential college to undergo renovation.
“We join together, Saybrook’s past and present, to view its future,” Saybrook Master Mary Miller said.
Current Saybrook residents said they enjoyed the ceremony and their renovated college.
“It’s really hard to imagine what Saybrook looked like before renovation,” Kan Wang ’05 said. “But it looks amazing now. Not only are the facilities great, but the people make it feel like a brand new college.”
Ned Andrews ’03 also said the event was a success.
“It’s really exciting that people have remembered what Saybrook did for them and have come back and done the same for us,” Andrews said.
Amidst the festivities, Miller reminded the crowd of the difficulties of the renovation process, describing the fire that ruined the Saybrook Master’s house in June. But she said the accident showed her the strength of the Saybrook community and everyone involved with renovations.
“Only when standing in the ash and rubble did I truly appreciate the community around me,” Miller said.
Limor Robinson ’02, the president of the Saybrook College Council, said Saybrook helped quell initial doubts she had about Yale’s residential college system.
“I have never taken a step into Saybrook without feeling that I could knock on any Saybrugians’ door and be welcome or sit down and meet anyone in the dining hall,” Robinson said. “Some of my friends are in Pierson and Berkeley, but my family will always be in Saybrook.”
Bekenstein lauded those involved in the project, especially the other donors.
“This couldn’t have been done without everyone, not just the people who have worked on this, but all the donors. This wasn’t just [major donor] Holcombe [T. Green Jr. ’61] and I,” Bekenstein said. “It was a team effort.”
Levin also spoke, and explored the history of Saybrook and its role in Yale University.
The building that now is Saybrook began not as a residential college but as part of the Sterling Memorial Quadrangle that also included the current Branford College.
“I recite the history of these buildings to express the history of this place and the care given by those who inhabit it,” Levin said. “At the time [of Saybrook’s construction], there was not enough space on campus, and Edward Harkness realized that students living off-campus would miss the enriching experience of campus living — The quadrangle made space for 600 upperclassmen.”
In addition to the speeches by Levin, Green, Bekenstein, Miller and Robinson, the event featured musical performances by Saybrook seniors Nate Mickelson and Amber Pincavage.