It’s not often that students have the chance to interact with Yale President Richard Levin in a personal setting. But at a Pierson College Master’s Tea on Monday, Levin and his wife Jane Levin spoke about the choices they have made as classmates and as partners.
A part of Pierson’s “Experience and Choice Series,” the couple discussed their experiences as undergraduates at Stanford and as graduate students at Oxford and Yale. In front of an audience of 30 people, they presented their views on making decisions and acting on opportunities.
“If presented with an opportunity, it’s important to be confident enough to take advantage of it,” Levin said. “Don’t be afraid to seize opportunities; don’t be intimidated.”
They met for the first time at Stanford while Levin was studying Economics and Jane Levin was pursuing a degree in English. Levin recalled a specific instance in which he was impressed by one of Jane Levin’s papers that was read aloud by a professor in class. Afterwards, the couple studied in Italy and decided to become engaged.
Josh Safran, a former Yale College student and a current associate for the Legal Affairs magazine, said he found the interaction between Levin and his wife particularly interesting.
“It was funny to see the dynamics between the two Levins because their temperaments were quite different in some ways,” Safran said.
Pierson College Master Harvey Goldblatt said he wanted to give students a chance to see Levin in a different light with this tea.
“I thought that they would be wonderful as a couple,” Goldblatt said. “[The tea] gave them a more human rather than institutional face.”
The tea was the first installment in this year’s “Experience and Choice Series,” which began in 1999. According to a poster publicizing this Master’s Tea, the series “offers an inquiry into the nature of and means to a life well-lived.” The talks offer the perspectives of individuals in the Yale community who have experience making important decisions.
In the past, the series has featured Yale Law School Dean Anthony Kronman, diplomat-in-residence Charles Hill and history professor John Demos.
Josh Kleinfeld ’01 founded the series to explore choice theory. He videotapes each session and plans to write a book about the series.
“The basic idea is to find out what motivates them, what their idea is to achieve the good life,” Klienfeld said.
Later this semester, the series will feature Spanish professor and labor lawyer Teresa Carballal.