Daniel Zhao

University President Peter Salovey will leave office with both University and New Haven officials boasting of strong town-gown collaboration. Come July, President-elect Maurie McInnis GRD ’90 GRD ’96 will fill Salovey’s footsteps and be tasked with navigating the historically fraught relationship between Yale and its host city. 

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker expects McInnis to preserve the strengthened relationship between the city and the University, but also hopes she will take strides to further deepen the partnership. He called on McInnis to increase the University’s voluntary contribution to the city. 

In 2021, Yale agreed to increase its voluntary contribution by $52 million over the span of six years. During that period, the University will have earmarked a total of $135.4 million for contribution to New Haven. Elicker said that the six-year agreement will soon expire and that New Haven continues to face financial challenges, primarily in the funding of public schools and public safety, goods he noted that both city residents and the University benefit from. 

“I suspect that it will continue to be a challenge for the leadership of Yale to significantly invest in the city because there’s always internal tensions between investing in the city and doing what Yale has historically done for centuries, which is investing in Yale,” Elicker said. “It will take real leadership to continue building on the work of more civic engagement and financial support to the city. That’s something that I think is hard for the leader of a university to do, and that work is difficult, but very worthwhile.”

Elicker emphasized that while his relationship with Salovey was tense when Elicker was first elected in 2019, he credited Salovey’s leadership for the 2021 agreement that secured the increased contribution. The agreement additionally created the Center for Inclusive Growth and the partial offset of lost tax revenue if Yale chooses to change a property’s use to a tax-exempt status. 

The mayor said that he spoke to McInnis on Wednesday, the day McInnis’ appointment was publicly announced. 

“It was clear in our conversation that she wants to continue the momentum that Yale and the city have in working together to improve the city,” Elicker said. “That relationship is crucially important from an economic development perspective, from a budgetary perspective, from the city’s perspective, and also for our ability to uplift many residents in the city.”

At the Seton Elm-Ivy awards in April, Yale and the City of New Haven celebrated an all-time high collaboration between the two institutions. For Salovey, who cited the 2021 agreement, “there is no turning back” from the progress the two parties have made.

While relations between Yale and the mayor’s office have grown amicable, tensions between the University and New Haven residents have continued to emerge in recent months. 

Following the University’s purchase of 59 Broadway in November, Yale’s residential property management company notified tenants not affiliated with Yale that they must leave at the end of 2024 in accordance with Yale’s affiliate-only leasing policy. A petition, created last December, called on Yale to make an exception to this policy and amassed over 645 signatures. Signees condemned the University’s “takeover” and displacement of New Haveners. 

On May 2, Yale police violently arrested two non-Yale students on Alexander Walk, as well as two Yale students, all of whom were pro-Palestine protesters on May 1. The arrests followed large pro-Palestine protests throughout the year by both Yale students and New Haven residents.

The University has also faced backlash for messaging that critics argued tied the escalation of pro-Palestine protests on campus with participation from local residents. 

“I would expect that there will continue to be challenges around students strongly expressing their views about challenges around Palestine and Israel, or other national and international issues,” Elicker said.

Amid student protests, Yale administrators worked with New Haven police officers a number of times in its response to the demonstrations. 

McInnis will assume her duties as president beginning July 1.

Lily Belle Poling covers climate and the environment. Originally from Montgomery, Alabama, she is a first year in Branford College majoring in Global Affairs and English.