Tag Archive: Alumni

  1. Aretha calls off her wedding

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    Apparently the freeway of love isn’t as smooth a ride as the Queen of Soul had hoped.

    Honorary degree recipient and goddess Aretha Franklin has canceled plans for her wedding, less than a month after she announced her engagement to William “Willie” Wilkerson, according to the AP. The two close friends had considered marrying this summer in the Hamptons or Miami.

    “Will and I have decided we were moving a little too fast, and there were a number of things that had not been thought through thoroughly,” Franklin said in a statement released Monday. “There will be no wedding at this time.”

    Franklin was showered with respect in 2010 when she swung by New Haven to receive an honorary doctor of music.

  2. Directed Studies for life might really be for life

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    True to their name, the 15 participants in Yale’s first-ever “Directed Studies for Life” are keeping in touch.

    Andrew Lipka ’78 recently sent a holiday card (see above photo) to participants and faculty in the program, which last summer brought alumni, their spouses and parents of Yale students back to campus to study the classics. The card contained the following poem, adapted from “The Iliad” by Alex Troy ’81. Troy originally presented it at the conclusion of the summer DS program — some of those present were reportedly moved to tears.

    The full text of the poem is below. We suggest you stage a dramatic reading in true Homeric tradition, or, in true DS tradition, look for allusions to Homer and his pals:

    Rage? Goddess, you misheard. Sing of age, not rage.

    Tell how Dean Miller summoned splendid scholars,

    the fifteen finest, culled from class ’45 to ’99.

    How to Eli they returned, to DS and Yale’s narrow beds.

    Begin Muse, with how the deathless gods

    now live atop East Rock, their Olympian summit

    seized when Greece went bust.

    How Zeus and family for Yale work

    serving Directed Studies, immortal but untenured,

    so that when Dean Miller, wily as Odysseus,

    conceived DS for Life, Athena she dispatched.

    “Tap fifteen,” the dean directed.

    The grey eyed goddess sped to earth

    and just as the Bones selects the supreme,

    so Athena chose this company of the curious,

    lovers of learning, let me list them now:

    George, first in years and wisdom,

    old Nestor spoke not half so well.

    Swift footed Steve, the only one

    Time had not yet tagged.

    Nick, Asclepius’ helper, he

    hurls questions bright as thunderbolts.

    John H, father of three sturdy sons,

    tall as Yale elms, rowers of swift boats.

    Fred, whose black Amex shielded us from shame

    when Ibiza tendered the tapas fattened bill.

    White-armed Ann, who joined us

    from across the salt sea.

    Andrea, teacher of Torah, Miriam’s mom,

    her questions always sound like song.

    Sunny Carmen, eager to test her new-won wisdom

    on young Quinn, her sturdy son.

    Andy, who sharpens the sights of others,

    always sharpened ours.

    Karen and Harry — who could not be moved to see

    their heads bent close, each holding half of Homer,

    one book binding two souls.

    Marshall, consistent as a comet, does DS every fifty years.

    May the Fates decree we join him when Haley reappears.

    John R, more traveled than Odysseus, knows the wine dark sea,

    and John B, like Nestor, has counseled leaders and kings.

    Sing now, goddess of their brave deeds,

    of how they grappled with the Greeks:

    When they finished Homer, wiped away the gore

    struggled they with slippery Socrates

    swallowing his snide style as sweet Norma

    assured he’d grow on us as once he did on her;

    Aristotle next, so fond of “if’s” and “when’s,”

    his chapters lacked beginnings, middles, ends;

    Thucydides, like Yertle, piled up clause on clause

    so never did we learn that war’s cause.

    Yet this we know: Athens is O and one.

    Shipmates, our journey is now complete.

    We heroes head for home,

    taking with us our memories and our deeds.

    May it be the deathless gods unshakable vow

    that we all reconvene with Marshall fifty years from now.

  3. Zedillo GRD ’81 claims immunity in lawsuit

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    Former Mexican president and current Yale professor Ernesto Zedillo GRD ’81 claimed in court documents filed Friday that his status as a former head of state gives him immunity from a lawsuit filed in Connecticut District Court over the 1997 massacre of 45 Mexican villagers.

    “The plaintiffs’ lawsuit against President Zedillo amounts to no more than a misguided effort to impugn the reputation of someone widely regarded by international leaders and scholars as the architect of historic reforms that led Mexico into a new dawn of electoral freedom, respect for human rights, and a flourishing economy,” the motion said.

    Zedillo’s lawyers told the Associated Press they have no knowledge of the U.S. ever denying a former national leader’s claim for immunity from a lawsuit involving official acts. Stanford Law professor Jenny Martinez ’93, who specializes in international courts and tribunals, said in September 2011 that Zedillo might successfully claim immunity because the laws applying to former heads of state are complex.

    State Department officials will issue an opinion on whether they believe Zedillo has immunity from the lawsuit, according to the Associated Press. The plaintiffs will likely follow by filing documents opposing Zedillo’s motion to dismiss the case.

    Zedillo was president of Mexico from 1994 to 2000. At Yale, he directs the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization.

  4. Honorary doctor running for president of Senegal

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    Yale honorary degree recipient and musician Youssou N’Dour will run for president of Senegal against 11-year incumbent Abdoulaye Wade, according to a Tuesday announcement on N’Dour’s Senegalese television and radio station, Tele Futur Media.

    “For a long time, men and women have demonstrated their optimism, dreaming of a new Senegal. They have, in various ways, called for my candidacy in the February presidential race. I listened. I heard,” he said.

    N’Dour enjoys widespread popularity in Senegal and in much of Africa for his music. Since the 1970s, D’Nour has used this platform to advocate advocated for peace and tolerance, something University President Levin commended when awarding the honorary doctorate of music last spring.

    “Understanding the power of music to liberate, heal and united, you have organized and performed in concerts that call attention to injustice, poverty, and disease,” Levin said. “With your extraordinary sound, you give voice to hope and our common humanity.”

    The Senegalese presidential election will take place on Feb 26.

    [via Reuters]

  5. Farrow LAW ’09, other Yalies among ’30 under 30′

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    What do Lady Gaga and Mark Zuckerberg have in common with Rhodes Scholar, celebrity offspring and aspiring country artist Ronan Farrow LAW ’09? They’re all among America’s “30 Under 30,” a list of high-achieving young people released this week by Forbes.

    Farrow graduated from Bard College when he was 15, the college’s youngest graduate ever. After Bard, he became a humanitarian activist, writing for the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal. Much of his work has focused on engaging marginalized groups such as youth and women, as well as promoting the recognition of human rights abroad. Now 24 and a graduate of Yale Law School, Farrow advises Secretary of State Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 on global youth issues.

    “I grew up with altruism on display in a pretty intense way,” Farrow said of his 10 adopted siblings, some of whom have severe disabilities, in his Forbes interview.

    Farrow is also the only biological child of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen.

    The list also includes artists Justin Bieber and Adele for the music category, and actors Donald Glover and Jonah Hill in the entertainment category. Besides Farrow, Yalies from a variety of fields made the Forbes list. See who they are below:


    Xizhou Zhou ’05 FES ’06, 29. Associate director of IHS-CERA. Heads China research team for Cambridge Energy Research Associates.

    Alexis Ringwald ’05 FES ’06, 28. Co-founder of Valence Energy, a company that produces energy management software and that Ringwald has since sold to Serious Energy.


    Ewan Thompson, 29. Fund manager, Neptune Investment Management. A former editor of Yale University Press now manages more than $1.5 billion in emerging markets equities at the U.K. firm.

    Law & Policy:

    Yhoannes Abraham ’07, 25. Deputy national political director, Obama for America 2012. Former national political director at Organizing for America.

    Nick Franchot ’07, 27. Senior policy advisor for the U.S. Department of the Treasury, focusing on capital markets and financial institutions.

    Anthony Vitarelli LAW ’09, 28. Staff Attorney, U.S. Justice Department. Former editor of the Yale Law Journal and D.C. Circuit clerk has argued four appeals and tried three criminal cases at the Justice Department.

    Real Estate

    Jonathan Bittner ’07, 27. Co-founder and COO of Splitwise, which helps roommates split rent and other expenses.

    CORRECTION: Dec. 23, 2011:

    The original version of this article failed to include a number of Yalies who made the list, including Jonathan Bittner ’07, Alexis Ringwald ’05 FES ’06 and Nick Franchot ’07. The News thanks commenters DPort10 and aloob for pointing out these oversights.

  6. Did Franco GRD ’16 get an NYU professor fired?

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    Having broken countless Eli hearts, ditched the stark beauty of New England for the oil fields of Texas and left all of us wondering where he’s been for the last five months, James Franco GRD ’16 has created yet another stir. The chronic grad student is now at the root of a lawsuit against New York University, where professor Jose Angel Santana is claiming he lost his post as head of acting at the Tisch School of the Arts because he gave Franco a “D” grade.

    “The school has bent over backwards to create a Franco-friendly environment,” Santana said in an interview with the New York Post. He said he thinks Franco deserved the grade, considering the actor only managed to show up to two of 14 class sessions.

    Santana claims that NYU was willing to do anything Franco asked as long as the school, or even certain individuals, stood to gain from his enrollment. He said that Franco eventually hired NYU professor Jay Anania to write and direct a film, and gave John Tintori, the graduate film department chairman, a cameo in another piece.

    “They’ve turned the NYU graduate film degree into swag for James Franco’s purposes,” Santana told the Post.

    The New York State Supreme Court will decide on the matter; the professor hopes he will be rehired once evidence of Franco’s nefarious influence becomes apparent. NYU has so far refused to comment.

    So has Franco been a delinquent over in Linsly-Chittenden, too? Far from it, according to Franco’s doctoral adviser, Robert John Williams, who published a stirring defense of the actor on Slate some hours after the Santana story broke.

    Williams argued that Franco has committed significant time to his studies at Yale, often doing extra reading and watching additional relevant films while facing considerable professional commitments.

    “He … was respectful, interested and eager to find out more about how he could pursue his interests in both film and literature during his time at Yale,” Williams wrote. He also said that Franco is becoming a scholar we must take seriously, and said studying film theory with Franco has been “thrilling.”

    Williams noted that A-list actors like Franco also have more downtime on movie sets than popularly believed, providing ample opportunity to read for his courses. Something about the image of James Franco reading film theory on the set of “Oz: The Great and Powerful” gives Cross Campus chills.

  7. Watch Williams ’10 in teaser for new HBO show

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    Move over, Rhoda — a new series about young people trying to make it big in New York is coming to a digital video player near you this spring.

    Cross Campus favorite Allison Williams ’10 stars alongside Lena Dunham in “Girls,” a generational show produced by Judd Apatow that features three best girlfriends being young in the Big Apple. A Dunham-heavy trailer (in which Williams has only two lines, one about texting, the other about condoms) came out earlier this week. Watch it now:


    “Girls” seems like it will be a relevant, relatable look at what I imagine life is like for Millennials living and working in New York, having never lived there myself. In the trailer, Dunham’s character, Hannah, acts like a wry young writer type who struggles with money — the trailer opens with Hannah’s voice: “So I calculated and I can last New York for three and a half more days, maybe seven, if I don’t eat lunch” — and who lets men treat her poorly. The trailer touches on several themes crucial to today’s youth, like texting, Tweeting and being underemployed. It also focuses on sex and talking about sex, including the following relatable exchange:

    Hannah’s shirtless boytoy: “This is good. I’m gonna go get some lube.”

    Hannah, in what looks like a poorly-formed Dhanurasana pose: “Why do we need to get lube?”

    As Hannah types a Tweet reading “My life has been a lie” toward the teaser’s close, she makes a bold declaration:

    “I think I may be the voice of my generation..or at least, a voice of a generation,” Hannah tells her skeptical parents.

    Big words, but given that this promising teaser has racked up nearly 70,000 YouTube hits in just a few days, Dunham’s Hannah may not be so wrong. We’ll find out when “Girls” premieres in April 2012.

  8. Liberian President Sirleaf wins Nobel

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    Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who earned an honorary law degree in 2010, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Saturday at a ceremony in Oslo.

    Sirleaf and two other female political leaders — Tawakkol Karmen, a Yemeni pro-democracy campaigner, and Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian peace activist — shared the award “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”

    Yale awarded Sirleaf an honorary doctorate of laws in May 2010 recognizing her political work in Liberia. She is the first woman to be elected president in Africa and has been widely recognized as an important leader for women’s rights in Africa.

    “Arrested for challenging the ruling powers, you persevered to run for office, fight corruption, and bring integrity to government,” said University President Richard Levin at the honorary degree ceremony. “Your vision of a renewed Liberia is becoming a reality because of your sacrifice, dedication, determination, and wisdom.”

    Sirleaf also holds honorary law degrees from Harvard, Brown and Rutgers, among others.

  9. Whiffs to sing for Obama

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    Forget Mory’s. This is big.

    After receiving an invitation from the White House in late October, The Whiffenpoofs — Yale’s oldest a cappella group — will sing for the First Family and their guests at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. on Tuesday to reign in the holiday season.

    “We will be singing a series of holiday songs woven in with our traditional mixed-genre repertoire,” said Whiffenpoof business manager Alexander Oki in a Friday press release.

    In the past the Whiffs have performed for Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush ’48, Bill Clinton LAW ’73 and George W. Bush ’68.

    CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this article referred to the Whiffenpoofs as Yale’s “poofiest” a cappella group. It was intended as a play on the latter half of their name. We apologize for failing to realize its offensive connotations and thank commenter penny_lane for highlighting our oversight.

  10. Beatboxer Olusola ’11 releases new video

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    Though Kevin Olusola ’11 just won a Sony Music recording contract with his group Pentatonix on NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” we don’t have to wait until the album drops for more music from the beatboxing cellist.

    Olusola collaborated with singer-songwriter Antoniette Costa and classical violinist Tara Kamangar to release the video for their new single “Stranded” on Thursday. The song is written by Costa and based on the novel “Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier. If you missed Olusola’s cello playing while he competed with his a capella group, don’t worry—KO shows off his simultaneous beatboxing and cello playing in “Stranded.”

    Costa and Olusola released the video for their first single “Void of a Legend” in August. The song reached the #4 position on the iTunes Classical chart.

    Check out the video for their new single below.

    Correction: Dec. 2 2011

    An earlier version of this article misstated the title of Kevin Olusola’s and Antoinette Costa’s new song “Void of a Legend.”

  11. Elis more likely to show up on Times Weddings page

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    Ever wondered what it takes to make the New York Times Weddings page? A Yale degree sure seems to help.

    According to an article in the Atlantic, Yalies make up 5.8 percent of the wedding announcements, while Princeton and Harvard alumni comprised 3.6 percent and 9.4 percent of couples featured on the page, respectively.

    Numerous other traits seem to up a prospective subject from being featured in the Weddings section. If you…

    • have parents who come from Greenwich, Conn., you are 21 times more likely to be featured than the average American
    • work as a Congressional staffer, you are 75 times more likely to be featured than the average American
    • are marrying someone of the same sex, you are 74 times more likely to be featured than the average American
    • work at one of New York’s most elite law firms, you are 974 times more likely to be featured than the average American

    Each week, around 200 couples compete for the maximum of 40 spots available in the Weddings/Celebrations page.