Following the September 11th attacks, the Yale community wondered if the culminating celebrations of the yearlong for the yearlong Tercentennial would proceed. These doubts were put to rest in the first weekend of October when all the culminating events took place according to plan.
Famous alumni convened on campus the weekend of Oct. 6-8 for what Yale President Richard Levin called a “a great opportunity for Yale to celebrate its past and reflect on its future.”
The culmination weekend for Yale’s Tercentennial opened on Friday with an academic convocation on Cross Campus which featured speeches by Levin, Harvard University president Larry Summers, and Princeton University president Shirley Tilghman. Event coordinators were pleased with the participation of the students which included representatives from all twelve residential colleges and all x graduate schools.
“There had been many who when the events were being planned in 1996 said it was unlikely that students would participate in anything, and it was heartwarming to see the large turnout of students at both the celebrate events and the serious ones,” said University Secretary Linda Lorimer, the chief organizer for the Tercentennial.
On Saturday, as part of the series on globalization and leadership, famous faculty such as professors Paul Kennedy, Gaddis Smith, and Gustav Ranis and former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo GRD ’81 spoke to the Yale community.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton LAW addressed a capacity crowd of 8,000 on Cross Campus. Clinton became the third U.S. President to speak as part of the yearlong Tercentennial celebrations following both former President George H. W. Bush ’48 who headlined the second Tercentennial weekend in April and current President George W. Bush ’68 who spoke at the commencement ceremony for the class of 2001.
During his speech, Clinton praised the Bush administration for its leadership after the September 11th attacks. He outlined both the advantages and challenges of globalization and urged the United States to continue globalization efforts in spite of the heightened national security being put into effect after the recent attacks.
Later on the same day, various on-campus organizations held exhibitions at the Yale Bowl and was followed in the evening with the culminating finale. For the finale, the Bowl was fitted with a stage, flanked with the numbers “1701” and “2001,” and glowing blue “Y’s;” three large video screens televised the events on stage.
In remembrance of the September 11th attacks, Levin called for a moment of silence after which he invited candle-holding New Haven residents and Yale employees onto the stage to lead the audience in singing “America the Beautiful.” During his opening address, Levin told the audience that there had been discussion of canceling or postponing the culmination celebrations but that the Yale community nearly unanimously agreed that they should proceed.
The finale was divided into four portions titled: “for God,” “for country, “for Yale,” and “forever.” The celebration featured famous guests including an actor playing Elihu Yale, an appearance by Big Bird, and Paul Simon ‘Mus.D. ’96 who performed both “Graceland” and “Bridge Over Troubled Waters.” The finale ended with a 20 minute long laser and fireworks extravaganza.
The final event of the weekend took place on Sunday afternoon, when the Counting Crows performed on Old Campus. The popular band, known for its hits “Mr. Jones,” and “A Long December,” received a warm welcome from students after coming on after their opening band Actual Tigers. Although the concert took place just hours after the United States began its bombing campaign in Afghanistan, the mood remained light throughout the concert.
“The Counting Crows is arguably the most famous and largest act to ever play on Old Campus,” said former Yale College Council President Vidhya Prabhakaran ’03 in an e-mail. “The concert was a big success as it was one of the most talked about events of the year, and I believe an experience that many Yalies bragged to their friends about. The Counting Crows Concert was the icing on the cake that was the Tercentennial.”