Audrey Steinkamp

With the smell of cinnamon apples floating through Tuesday’s crisp fall air, Cross Campus was buzzing with the sound of partygoers gathering together to celebrate Yale’s 317th birthday and West Campus’ 10th.

The celebration saw hundreds of Yalies from every corner of campus come to see a bluegrass band performance, eat fall-themed snacks and listen to remarks by University President Peter Salovey. The day’s full agenda included various Yale departments’ hosting open houses and leading tours of some of Yale’s most iconic buildings — such as Sterling Memorial Library, the Yale University Art Gallery and the School of Drama. This year’s celebration marked the fifth time Yale hosted these festivities.

In his opening remarks, Salovey devoted most of his time to talking about West Campus. He extended a warm welcome to the celebration’s visitors from West Campus and thanked them for integrating their community with Yale’s over the past decade.

“It took a lot of people to turn the West Campus into something that felt like Yale,” Salovey said. “What [it] shows us is that working together we can invent a new part of [the University] and that even though it’s 15 minutes away, it still feels like Yale.”

Entering its second decade, West Campus has “grown rapidly into a Yale community of over 1,600 residents” according to the Founders Day celebration website. West Campus is home to the School of Nursing and other Yale institutes focused on health, culture, energy and the environment. Salovey noted that the research done on West Campus supports Yale undergraduates in their studies of the sciences.

Attendees interviewed by the News said the celebration felt very community-oriented as it drew members from many different communities at Yale. Some said they have attended the event year after year.

Christine Ly and Erica Rocco, both of whom are research assistants at the School of Medicine, said that they celebrate their own friendship anniversary by coming to Founders Day festivities every year.

“We actually call it our Founders Friendship Day,” Ly said. “We came here together for the first time two years ago and this is our third.”

Brookie Schwind ’22 said she enjoyed the fact that everyone from different colleges came together to celebrate and eat some good food.

As attendees mingled in lines waiting for their chance to eat seasonal sweets and savory snacks, the air was filled with the scents of fall-inspired dishes. The menu included everything from cardamom spiced donuts to cheesy tortellini, all made fresh on Cross Campus.

“We get really excited about the food every year,” Rocco said. “They have a lot of great vegetarian and vegan options, and they are really committed to being sustainable.”

Tom Keegan, executive director of the Yale Institute of Network Science, said this year’s celebration was “exceptional.”

Keegan added that he had never been to the actual celebration on Cross Campus and was impressed by everything — from the size of the crowd to the big Y-shaped cake.

Founders Day is held annually on Oct. 9 to commemorate the founding of the University.

Audrey Steinkamp  |