Timothy Quimby has been living at Yale for a year, and he’s never passed a class. Actually, he’s never taken a class. He’s the 4-year-old son of Davenport College Dean Peter Quimby.
The families of college masters and deans are part of the rich fabric of the Yale community. While some colleges have single deans or masters with grown children, a few have young children in their households. In some ways, the spouses and children of these Yale officials are as much a part of the college as the masters and deans themselves.
And Spencer Fry, the son of Ezra Stiles College Master Paul Fry, is not complaining about his six years living in a residential college.
“I like living here,” he said. “It’s fun to go to the common room and hang out or go to Berkeley and play NBA Jam.”
In fact, many of these Yale children take advantage of Yale’s facilities and attend Yale events. Many are content just to be in the presence of college-age students. Others like the Yankee Doodle.
In Morse and Davenport colleges, the families of their masters and deans are visible. Morse Master Frank Keil, Morse Dean Rosemary Jones and Davenport Dean Quimby prefer to have their family meals in the dining halls of their respective colleges.
“[It’s wonderful] to see students laugh and smile as Isobel [age 3] is up to her tricks at Sunday brunch,” Jones said.
“Students always come by our table to say hello,” Quimby said. “We have a hard time keeping Timothy and Katie [age 7] in their seats.”
Peter Quimby, who became a dean after being frustrated by his lack of student interaction as the assistant dean of residential college at the University of Wisconsin, said that being a dean has been “really wonderful.”
“It’s all I hoped it would be,” Quimby said. “Timothy and Katie love it here.”
Quimby and Jones see the experience of having a family living in the college as mutually beneficial for the students and the children.
“It’s positive for Katie to hear ‘I have to go do homework’ from the Davenport students,” Quimby said. “I believe in raising children’s sightlines, and [living at Yale] provides them with positive role models.”
“Isobel can raise people’s spirits,” Jones said. “The students welcomed her with open arms, and she loves being the center of attention.”
Raising a family on campus, however, is not always an easy task. Serving as a master or dean is a full-time commitment, including a broader range of responsibilities than many imagined before accepting their positions. Numerous deans and masters were originally hesitant about the possible lack of privacy and time for their families.
“There was the danger of being treated like a mascot,” Paul Fry said.
But all who were interviewed gave the resounding declaration that it was worth it.
Fry’s fears were eased when a group of Stiles students volunteered themselves to baby-sit then 11-year-old Spencer.
“They became great friends,” Paul Fry said.
Spencer keeps busy working in the master’s office and on the IM fields. A senior at the Hopkins School in New Haven, he is considering attending Yale next fall.
“But if my parents weren’t leaving, I wouldn’t want to go here,” he said.
Derek Keil ’03, son of Morse Master Frank Keil, agrees.
“I don’t think I would have gone to Yale if [my parents] were masters when I was making my decision,” he said. “But it’s nice to have them around.”
“I do my own thing,” said Derek, a member of the sailing team. “My parents have only seen my room twice. They do a good job of not intruding.”
Derek has the unique experience of having two homes at Yale.
“The house is a big perk,” he said. “I have food at my fingertips, a personal locker room on my way to the gym, and if I leave clothes there, they get cleaned.”
Balancing their busy family life and their extensive professional duties remains a challenge for Master Keil and his wife, Associate Master Kristi Lockhart.
“The hard part is time,” Lockhart said.
Despite all her commitments, she finds time to go to her 16-year-old son Dylan’s games and her 11-year-old son Marty’s theatrical performances.
“I play [hockey] IMs until 1:30 a.m., and the kids are up at 6 a.m.,” Frank Keil said. “It’s difficult to try to match student schedules as well as family schedules.”
Derek sympathizes with his parents’ plight.
“They added a lot [of commitments to their schedules] by becoming master and associate master,” he said. “They removed nothing.”
But Derek said being a master’s son has had a deeper effect on the family dynamic.
“I’ve grown closer to my brothers,” he said. “I substitute face-to-face visits for phone calls.”
Dylan and Marty can be seen in the Morse courtyard tossing a football or, more recently, throwing snowballs.
While spending more time with his brother is a perk for Derek, exposing his children to the richness of the Yale community is Frank Keil’s greatest reward as a parent.
“They find it exhilarating to hear the amazing dialogue of Yale students,” he said of his younger sons. “It’s inspirational for them to hear the sax and piano players that perform in our home. Their mouths drop open.”