The question is “How will an expansion of Yale’s presence in New Haven affect the community?” The answer requires a look at what Yale’s influence is now.

When I use the word “Yale,” I of course include among its many other attributes and contributions, its affiliates and activities such as its schools, medical facilities, galleries and museums, sports activity, civic grant making, student activity in the community, and the very fact that one of the world’s most sophisticated and accomplished universities is here in a city of this size. A very significant tribute is that Yale is led by a President who cares deeply about the City of New Haven and acts that way.

In both direct and indirect ways, Yale is very influential if not essential in many instances to the quality of our civic life in New Haven. The direct influence is the enormous financial contribution Yale makes to the City in terms of its tax payments, the economic impact of the money generated by Yale, its students, faculty and employees, and the number of jobs Yale affords to our businesses and citizens. An expanded Yale would make a larger contribution in those areas. Yale’s contribution to the City’s economic growth, like the MasterCard ad says, is priceless. It won’t come from many other sources. If you can think of one, let us all know.

Yale is also a highly-charged magnet for economic development, whose magnetism will only increase with growth and diversity. This means new businesses that are coming and will continue to come here because of Yale, new restaurants, the incredible emergence of a rich arts community, things like the new Cancer Center at Yale New Haven Hospital and increased activity among and support for organizations such as the United Way and the Community Foundation. And yes, there’s much more.

Indirectly, Yale contributes graduates who have always been active among the city’s civic and volunteer leadership, and will continue to do so. People with Yale degrees founded most of the sustainable arts organizations here. The Long Wharf Theatre, the Festival of Arts and Ideas, and the New Haven Symphony are just examples. People of that sort founded what is now Yale New Haven Hospital, the United Way and the Community Foundation. People with Yale degrees practice a lot of law, medicine, architecture and art in this community. If you get sick this is a good place to be. Yale graduates teach in our schools, work in social service agencies and want and work hard to establish and sustain a vibrant, healthy and diverse community. They patronize the restaurants too.

What’s wrong with this picture? Well, I’ve heard it said that Yale is too powerful.

If you think that, be glad that it’s a non-profit organization, created and sustained for the public good. If it’s a giant, it’s a good giant. Not convinced? Drive around the state some. You’ll see what I mean.

Cheever Tyler ’59 has lived in New Haven since 1964. He is a lawyer and has been recognized for his significant contributions to New Haven’s civic life.