“Welcome to Yale!” I enjoy saying these words many times at the start of a new academic year. This year, my greeting has even greater significance. With the opening of two new residential colleges this fall, we are able to welcome many more students to Yale, offering the opportunity of a Yale College education to an additional 200 students in each cohort.
As we celebrate Pauli Murray and Benjamin Franklin colleges, we should also reflect on what this historic moment means for Yale, New Haven and the world. Above all, these colleges will increase access to a Yale education.
Increasing access has been one of my goals as president of Yale. Now more than ever, our world needs the talent, intellect and leadership of our graduates. Yale is an extraordinary university with unparalleled resources, including stunning facilities for research, creativity and competition, as well as superb collections, museums and libraries.
Our greatest asset, however, is our people. Our distinguished faculty join students and staff in creating a rich academic community. By increasing the size of Yale College by 15 percent — and welcoming 800 additional students in four years — we will help fulfill our commitment to expanding access to the magnificent treasure of a Yale College education.
When I consider what access means, I think not only of our students’ experience here on campus, but also of the important work that awaits them as Yale-educated leaders. Yale alumni have made lasting contributions here in the United States and around the world. They have created new knowledge, made lifesaving scientific breakthroughs, transformed industries and inspired others with their creativity and teaching. Countless authors, playwrights, actors, artists, scientists and inventors began their careers at Yale. And public service is distinctly important to Yalies: Our alumni include five U.S. presidents; four U.S. secretaries of state; 16 Supreme Court Justices; and numerous ambassadors, senators and members of Congress.
As we speak, the leaders of tomorrow are shopping classes, attending rehearsals and practices and signing up for clubs and activities. I know each of them will make meaningful contributions during their “bright college years” and well into the future.
The opening of Franklin and Murray colleges also reminds us of the centrality of the residential colleges — all 14 of them — at Yale. These close-knit communities, nested within one of the world’s greatest research universities, allow our students and faculty to learn from one another. They bring together students of diverse backgrounds and interests, helping spark friendships that may be unlikely in other settings. The advising and mentoring resources housed within the residential colleges ensure our students have the support they need to succeed. In planning for this expansion, Yale examined and strengthened the entire residential college program. As a result, we not only opened our doors wider to new students; we also ensured that all our residential colleges will continue to support and nurture Yalies for generations to come.
As we look ahead with optimism, I am filled with gratitude for the many people who made this historic moment possible. Most of all, generous alumni and friends have left a wonderful legacy for the future, transforming Yale’s campus while enabling more students to access the opportunities of a Yale education.
My predecessor Richard Levin and a host of faculty and staff devoted enormous time and energy to this task over many years. Countless others — construction crews and architects, housekeeping, facilities and administrative staff — also contributed to this significant undertaking.
As we open our doors to more students, we also welcome them to New Haven, a vibrant and dynamic community. It is my hope and expectation that each of our new students will find ways to contribute to our home city. I urge every member of the Yale community to get to know the greater New Haven community as well, whether through volunteering or community service, or simply as friendly neighbors and engaged citizens.
We will have many occasions to celebrate Murray and Franklin colleges in the days and weeks ahead. As they become a familiar part of the campus landscape, I hope they continue to serve as beautiful, living reminders of the opportunity and responsibility of a Yale education.
Peter Salovey is president of Yale University and the Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.