This fall, the working group planning the future details of the two new residential colleges has taken care to remember Yale’s past.
The working group, which includes members of the Admissions Office, the Provost’s Office and the Office of Career Strategy, is responsible for outlining the living and transfer arrangements of the new colleges. Last week, it met with John Wilkinson ’60, the inaugural dean of Ezra Stiles College, to inform its decisions.
“There’s always something you can learn from history,” Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway said. “At the same time, we always have to be mindful that this is 50 years ago … For better and for worse, we’re a more permissive culture than we were.”
The working group has also been looking ahead to the physical realities of the new colleges. Earlier this month, they met with University planners to explore a new, more detailed virtual tour of the new colleges.
Alice Raucher, the major project planner in Yale’s Office of Facilities, said that Robert A.M. Stern Architects have completed the construction drawings for the project.
Holloway said these floor plans are close to final, explaining that while the major programming spaces are set, some details of the dorms — such as specific room assignments for freshman counselors, for example — may still be reconfigured.
In his meeting with the working group on Thursday, Wilkinson encouraged the members to continue practices that were successful in his time.
Specifically, he recommended that the members put the new college administrators in place two years prior to the colleges’ opening — as they did for the debut of Morse and Stiles Colleges. This will allow the colleges to form communities even before students arrive, Wilkinson explained.
“I urged them to consider that if they possibly can,” he said. “Creating a community overnight is not an easy thing to do.”
The new colleges’ masters will begin their terms of service on July 1, 2016, and the deans on Jan. 1, 2017, Holloway said. The new residential colleges are slated to open in August 2017.
While these time frames are shorter than those used in the past, Wilkinson said they may still provide enough time to build communities as strong as Morse and Stiles’ were. This will depend on when and how the first students are affiliated with the new colleges, he said.
“The important thing is that people don’t all walk in in September or August and say, ‘What do we do?’” he said.
Still, Wilkinson acknowledged that some aspects of residential college life are very different now.
He explained that when Morse and Stiles first opened, many students wanted to transfer into the colleges because they offered single bedrooms — a rarity in those days. However, because renovations have endowed some of the colleges with more singles, fewer students may transfer seeking privacy, he said.
Wilkinson also said that because in the early 1960s, students were not placed into residential colleges until the end of their freshman year, college affiliations were not felt as strongly. Because students are now grouped into colleges all four years, they might be less likely to want to transfer, he said.
“The challenge in the committee is how to make these two new colleges something that will be attractive to students that might want to transfer,” he said.
Of 14 students interviewed, only three said they would consider transferring to the new residential colleges. Most cited strong ties to their residential college communities as a reason not to transfer.
Chris Rudeen ’17 said that he would consider transferring only if his all of his suitemates did.
“I already feel so strongly tied to the Morse community,” Sam Savitz ’17 said. “I can’t think of anything off the top of my head that would make me want to transfer.”
Savitz also noted that he feels a tie to Morse because his mother was also a member of the college. The two new residential colleges will not yet have these alumni ties, he added.
The new residential colleges will have 904 beds.