Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead ’68 said he remembers Valentine’s Day at Yale in the years before the school admitted women.
“My Valentine’s Day memories from when I was a student are grim,” Brodhead said. “Romance was a weekend and through-the-mail activity.”
Brodhead eventually found true love at Yale when he was a graduate student, and he shared his wisdom about romance, life and Yale with about 30 students at a Silliman College Master’s Tea yesterday.
Brodhead immediately opened the floor to questions and the discussion covered issues as diverse as overcommitted Yalies and life in the 1960s.
Brodhead labeled the tea “Dean Brodhead tells all” before modifying the statement amid laughter from the group.
“Since that’s unlikely,” he said, “Dean Brodhead tells much.”
Saad Khanani ’02 said he had good reason to attend the tea.
“He’s kind of cute and I don’t have a valentine, so why not?” Khanani said.
After talking about how he met his valentine, Brodhead went on to discuss the culture of Yale and the nation in the 1960s, comparing the sense of uncertainty then to what many feel today after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“You never know in your life what might be about to happen, and your life will be lived under those circumstances,” Brodhead said. “You realize how little you think about things.”
A student then asked Brodhead the one thing he would change about Yale, and the topic dominated the rest of the almost hour and a half-long tea.
Brodhead threw the question back to the group, and answers ranged from the quality of sections to the use of the endowment. The responses also prompted an extended philosophical discussion about the nature of a Yale education.
Brodhead said he often wonders if students grow tired of spending hours each week on scheduled extracurricular activities.
“Doing something is better than doing nothing,” Brodhead said. “But sometimes you look at Yale College and think, ‘Busy, busy, busy.’ — We live in a period of compulsive organized activity.”
Partly as a result of the time spent on extracurricular activities and schoolwork, students go to bed late and get up late, Brodhead said. This schedule limits the times when classes can be offered, and Brodhead said he would like to extend the academic day.
“I would like to have a serious academic day at Yale, rather than three hours when you can have class,” Brodhead said. “My sense is that the normative student at Yale is one who puts themselves under a great deal of discipline — It’s a place where people try to do things very well.”
Brodhead added that there is a key difference between Yale and schools with similarly driven populations, saying Yale is a pleasant place to be, and one where people are “nice to each other.”
“Yale is a very friendly place and a very communal place,” Brodhead said.
Silliman College Master Judith Krauss said the tea went exactly as she had expected and hoped.
“I invited Dean Brodhead because I know him to be a thoroughly substantive and amusing man, and utterly capable of dealing with the range of questions he received today,” Krauss said. “I knew it would be just the kind of afternoon it was.”