Three hundred and thirteen years into its history, Yale is still developing new traditions.
On Tuesday afternoon, hundreds of students, faculty and alumni participated in “Founders Day,” a new campus-wide event that commemorates the formation of the school in 1701. Set to be held annually, Founder’s Day is meant to encourage everyone on campus to explore the diverse resources available on campus, according to event organizers. This year, the occasion featured a variety of student performances, open houses, tours and presentations held throughout the day. University President Peter Salovey said it is important that Elis come together as a community and that Founders Day may help encourage that.
“I really believe in trying to create a campus where we are more interdependent in the sense that we know what each other is doing and that we care about everything that’s going on on this campus,” he said. “The idea behind Founder’s Day is to reinforce those notions.”
According to Salovey, the inspiration for Founders Day came from his visits around campus in the weeks preceding his formal inauguration in October 2013. In the week leading up to his inauguration, Salovey visited as many workplaces on campus as he could. It was his way of hearing what was on peoples’ minds across the University, Salovey said.
Although presidential inaugurations will not occur on a regular basis, Founders Day can evoke a similar sense of community, Salovey noted.
“[Founders Day] is coming at the same time as the inauguration,” Shalmoli Halder ’15 said. “It’s great fun, all the people and the festivities, and I think that the sense of community is really great.”
While many of the students interviewed were unaware of the various tours and events occurring throughout the day, most had a general sense of what Founders Day was meant to celebrate. Still, most students said that it was a nice way of coming together as a community and celebrating Yale’s achievements.
Pratik Ghandi ’18 conceded that he did not know the exact details of Founder’s Day, but added that he thought the celebrations did promote a sense of Yale spirit.
Founder’s Day allowed students to gather and celebrate together, Joseph Balsells ’18 said.
During the closing ceremonies on Cross Campus, food and beverages were provided. According to Adam Millman, a Yale Dining employee, the University prepared 3,000 pumpkin cupcakes with blue and white frosting for the attendees and 500 pumpkins for decoration.
Many of the open houses — for buildings such as the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the Association of Yale Alumni and the Peabody Museum of Natural History — had more than 30 visitors during the day. Salovey’s own residence at 43 Hillhouse, which featured works of art from Yale collections, was particularly popular.
Libby Van Cleve, director of oral history of American music at the Music Library, said she was pleased that her exhibit was chosen to be displayed during Founders Day.
“We are a fairly obscure collection in the library but we have an interesting collection,” she said. “There’s many treasures at Yale and we were honored to be chosen as one of particular interest.”
Yale is the third oldest institution of higher education in the United States.