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Yale University is a private research university in New Haven, Connecticutmarker, and a member of the Ivy League. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States. Yale has produced many notable alumni, including five U.S. presidents, nineteen U.S. Supreme Court Justices, and several foreign heads of state.

Incorporated as the Collegiate School, the institution traces its roots to 17th-century clergymen who sought to establish a college to train clergy and political leaders for the colony. In 1718, the College was renamed Yale College to honor a gift from Elihu Yale, a governor of the British East India Company. In 1861, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences became the first U.S. school to award the Ph.D.

Yale College was transformed beginning in the 1930s through the establishment of residential colleges, 12 of which now exist (but with two more planned). Almost all tenured professors teach undergraduate courses, more than 2,000 of which are offered annually.

The University's assets include a US $16.3 billion endowment , the second largest of any academic institution, and more than two dozen libraries that hold a total of 12.5 million volumes (making it one of the world's largest library systems). Yale and Harvardmarker have been rivals in academics, athletics, and other activities for most of their history, competing annually in The Game and the Harvard-Yale Regatta. The university is consistently ranked among the top five universities in the world.


Original building, 1718–1782
Yale traces its beginnings to "An Act for Liberty to Erect a Collegiate School," passed by the General Court of the Colony of Connecticut on October 9, 1701 in an effort to create an institution to train ministers and lay leadership for Connecticut. Soon thereafter, a group of ten Congregationalist ministers led by James Pierpont, all of whom were alumni of Harvard (the only North American college during their youth), met in the study of Reverend Samuel Russell in Branford, Connecticutmarker, to pool their books to form the school's first library. The group is now known as "The Founders."

Originally called the Collegiate School, the institution opened in the home of its first rector, Abraham Pierson, in Killingworthmarker (now Clintonmarker). The school moved to Saybrookmarker, and then Wethersfieldmarker. In 1718, the college moved to New Haven, Connecticutmarker, where it remains to this day.

Meanwhile, a rift was forming at Harvard between its sixth president Increase Mather (Harvard A.B., 1656) and the rest of the Harvard clergy, whom Mather viewed as increasingly liberal, ecclesiastically lax, and overly broad in Church polity. The relationship worsened after Mather resigned, and the administration repeatedly rejected his son and ideological colleague, Cotton Mather (Harvard A.B., 1678), for the position of the Harvard presidency. The feud caused the Mathers to champion the success of the Collegiate School in the hope that it would maintain the Puritan religious orthodoxy in a way that Harvard had not.
Old Brick Row in 1807
In 1718, at the behest of either Rector Samuel Andrew or the colony's Governor Gurdon Saltonstall, Cotton Mather contacted a successful businessman in Wales named Elihu Yale to ask him for financial help in constructing a new building for the college. Yale, who had made a fortune through trade while living in India as a representative of the East India Company, donated nine bales of goods, which were sold for more than £560, a substantial sum at the time. Yale also donated 417 books and a portrait of King George I. Cotton Mather suggested that the school change its name to Yale College in gratitude to its benefactor, and to increase the chances that he would give the college another large donation or bequest. Elihu Yale was away in India when the news of the school's name change reached his home in Wrexhammarker, North Wales, a trip from which he never returned. While he did ultimately leave his fortunes to the "Collegiate School within His Majesties Colony of Connecticot," the institution was never able to successfully lay claim to it.

Serious American students of theology and divinity, particularly in New Englandmarker, regarded Hebrew as a classical language, along with Greek and Latin, and essential for study of the Old Testament in the original words. The Reverend Ezra Stiles, president of the College from 1778 to 1795, brought with him his interest in the Hebrew language as a vehicle for studying ancient Biblical texts in their original language (as was common in other schools), requiring all freshmen to study Hebrew (in contrast to Harvard, where only upperclassmen were required to study the language) and is responsible for the Hebrew words "Urim" and "Thummim" on the Yale seal. Stiles' greatest challenge occurred in July, 1779 when hostile British forces occupied New Haven and threatened to raze the College. Fortunately, Yale graduate Edmund Fanning, Secretary to the British General in command of the occupation, interceded and the College was saved. Fanning later was granted an honorary degree LL.D., at 1803, for his efforts.

The emphasis on classics gave rise to a number of private student societies, open only by invitation, which arose primarily as forums for discussions of modern scholarship, literature and politics. The first such organizations were debating societies: Crotonia in 1738, Linonia in 1753, and Brothers in Unity in 1768.

Yale College expanded gradually, establishing the Yale School of Medicine (1810), Yale Divinity School (1822), Yale Law School (1843), Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (1847), the Sheffield Scientific School (1847), and the Yale School of Fine Arts (1869). (The divinity school was founded by Congregationalists who felt that the Harvard Divinity Schoolmarker had become too liberal). In 1887, as the college continued to grow under the presidency of Timothy Dwight V, Yale College was renamed Yale University. The university would later add the Yale School of Music (1894), Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (1901), Yale School of Public Health (1915), Yale School of Nursing (1923), Yale School of Drama (1955), Yale Physician Associate Program (1973), and Yale School of Managementmarker (1976). It would also reorganize its relationship with the Sheffield Scientific School.
Aerial view from the south, 1906

In 1966, Yale initiated discussions with its sister school Vassar Collegemarker concerning the possibility of a merger as an effective means to achieve coeducation. However, Vassar, once an all female college, declined Yale's invitation and, ultimately, both Yale and Vassar decided to remain separate and introduce coeducation independently in 1969. Amy Solomon was the first woman to register as a Yale undergraduate; she was also the first woman at Yale to join an undergraduate society, St. Anthony Hall. (Women studied at Yale University as early as 1876, but in graduate-level programs at the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.)

Yale, like other Ivy League schools, instituted policies in the early twentieth century designed artificially to increase the proportion of upper-class white Christians of notable families in the student body (see numerus clausus), and was one of the last of the Ivies to eliminate such preferences, beginning with the class of 1970.

The President and Fellows of Yale College, also known as the Yale Corporation, is the governing board of the University.

Yale used to have a combative relationship with its home city, but since Richard Levin became president of the University, the University has financially supported many of New Haven's efforts to reinvigorate the city, believing that town and gown relationships are mutually beneficial. Incremental evidence suggests that both the city and the University have benefitted much from this agreement.

Yale and politics in the modern era

Yale President Rick Levin characterized Yale's institutional priorities: "First, among the nation's finest research universities, Yale is distinctively committed to excellence in undergraduate education. Second, in our graduate and professional schools, as well as in Yale College, we are committed to the education of leaders."

The Boston Globe wrote that "if there's one school that can lay claim to educating the nation's top national leaders over the past three decades, it's Yale." Yale alumni were represented on the Democratic or Republican ticket in every U.S. Presidential election between 1972 and 2004. Yale-educated Presidents since the end of the Vietnam War include Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, and major-party nominees during this period include John Kerry (2004), Joseph Lieberman (Vice President, 2000), and Sargent Shriver (Vice President, 1972). Other Yale alumni who made serious bids for the Presidency during this period include Hillary Rodham Clinton (2008), Howard Dean (2004), Gary Hart (1984 and 1988), Paul Tsongas (1992), Pat Robertson (1988) and Jerry Brown (1976, 1980, 1992).

Several explanations have been offered for Yale’s representation in national elections since the end of the Vietnam War. Various sources note the spirit of campus activism that has existed at Yale since the 1960s, and the intellectual influence of Reverend William Sloane Coffin on many of the future candidates. Yale President Richard Levin attributes the run to Yale’s focus on creating "a laboratory for future leaders," an institutional priority that began during the tenure of Yale Presidents Alfred Whitney Griswold and Kingman Brewster. Richard H. Brodhead, former dean of Yale College and now president of Duke Universitymarker, stated: "We do give very significant attention to orientation to the community in our admissions, and there is a very strong tradition of volunteerism at Yale." Yale historian Gaddis Smith notes "an ethos of organized activity" at Yale during the 20th century that led John Kerry to lead the Yale Political Union's Liberal Party, George Pataki the Conservative Party, and Joseph Lieberman to manage the Yale Daily News. Camille Paglia points to a history of networking and elitism: "It has to do with a web of friendships and affiliations built up in school." CNN suggests that George W. Bush benefited from preferential admissions policies for the "son and grandson of alumni," and for a "member of a politically influential family." New York Times correspondent Elisabeth Bumiller and The Atlantic Monthly correspondent James Fallows credit the culture of community and cooperation that exists between students, faculty, and administration, which downplays self-interest and reinforces commitment to others.

During the 1988 presidential election, George H. W. Bush (Yale '48) derided Michael Dukakis for having "foreign-policy views born in Harvard Yard's boutique." When challenged on the distinction between Dukakis's Harvard connection and his own Yale background, he said that, unlike Harvard, Yale's reputation was "so diffuse, there isn't a symbol, I don't think, in the Yale situation, any symbolism in it" and said Yale did not share Harvard's reputation for "liberalism and elitism" In 2004, Howard Dean stated, "In some ways, I consider myself separate from the other three (Yale) candidates of 2004. Yale changed so much between the class of '68 and the class of '71. My class was the first class to have women in it; it was the first class to have a significant effort to recruit African Americans. It was an extraordinary time, and in that span of time is the change of an entire generation."

Former British Prime Minister has recently named Yale as the headquarters of his United States Faith and Globalization Initiative, together with Durham Universitymarker in the UK and National University of Singaporemarker in Asia, to deliver an exclusive program in partnership with Tony Blair Faith Foundation. Former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo is the Director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization and teaches an undergraduate seminar entitled "Debating Globalization". Former presidential candidate and DNC chair Howard Dean teaches a residential college seminar entitled "Understanding Politics and Politicians."{{Citation needed|date=May 2009}hkcchmc mom}

Administration and organization

The Yale Provost's Office has launched several women into prominent university presidencies. In 1977, Hanna Holborn Gray was appointed acting President of Yale from this position, and went on to become President of the University of Chicagomarker, the first woman to be full president of a major university. In 1994, Yale Provost Judith Rodin became the first female president of an Ivy League institution at the University of Pennsylvaniamarker. In 2002, Provost Alison Richard became the Vice Chancellor of the University of Cambridgemarker. In 2004, Provost Susan Hockfield became the President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technologymarker. In 2007, Deputy Provost Kim Bottomly was named President of Wellesley Collegemarker.

In 2008, Provost Andrew Hamilton was confirmed to be the Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxfordmarker. Former Dean of Yale College Richard H. Brodhead serves as the President of Duke Universitymarker.

Staff and labor unions

Much of Yale University's staff, including most maintenance staff, dining hall employees, and administrative staff, are unionized. Yale has a history of difficult and prolonged labor negotiations, often culminating in strikes. There have been at least eight strikes since 1968, and The New York Times wrote that Yale has a reputation as having the worst record of labor tension of any university in the U.S. Yale's unusually large endowment further exacerbates the tension over wages. Yale has been accused of failing to treat workers with respect, in addition to the usual concerns over wages. In a 2003 strike, however, more union employees were working than striking. There are currently at least three unions of Yale employees.


Yale's central campus in downtown New Haven covers . An additional 500 acres (2 km²) includes the Yale golf coursemarker and nature preserves in rural Connecticut and Horse Islandmarker.

Yale's Old Campus, April 2009

Yale is noted for its largely Collegiate Gothic campus as well as for several iconic modern buildings commonly discussed in architectural history survey courses: Louis Kahn's Yale Art Gallery and Center for British Art, Eero Saarinen's Ingalls Rink and Ezra Stiles and Morse Colleges, and Paul Rudolph's Art & Architecture Building. Yale also owns and has restored many noteworthy 19th-century mansions along Hillhouse Avenuemarker, which was considered the most beautiful street in America by Charles Dickens when he visited the United States in the 1840s.

Many of Yale's buildings were constructed in the neo-Gothic architecture style from 1917 to 1931. Stone sculpture built into the walls of the buildings portray contemporary college personalities such as a writer, an athlete, a tea-drinking socialite, and a student who has fallen asleep while reading. Similarly, the decorative friezes on the buildings depict contemporary scenes such as policemen chasing a robber and arresting a prostitute (on the wall of the Law School), or a student relaxing with a mug of beer and a cigarette. The architect, James Gamble Rogers, faux-aged these buildings by splashing the walls with acid, deliberately breaking their leaded glass windows and repairing them in the style of the Middle Ages, and creating niches for decorative statuary but leaving them empty to simulate loss or theft over the ages. In fact, the buildings merely simulate Middle Ages architecture, for though they appear to be constructed of solid stone blocks in the authentic manner, most actually have steel framing as was commonly used in 1930. One exception is Harkness Towermarker, tall, which was originally a free-standing stone structure. It was reinforced in 1964 to allow the installation of the Yale Memorial Carillon.

Other examples of the Gothic (also called neo-Gothic and collegiate Gothic) style are on Old Campus by such architects as Henry Austin, Charles C. Haight and Russell Sturgis. Several are associated with members of the Vanderbilt family, including Vanderbilt Hall, Phelps Hall, St. Anthony Hall (a commission for member Frederick William Vanderbilt), the Mason, Sloane and Osborn laboratories, dormitories for the Sheffield Scientific School (the engineering and sciences school at Yale until 1956) and elements of Silliman Collegemarker, the largest residential college.

The oldest building on campus, Connecticut Hallmarker (built in 1750), is in the Georgian style. Georgian-style buildings erected from 1929 to 1933 include Timothy Dwight College, Pierson College, and Davenport Collegemarker, except the latter's east, York Street façade, which was constructed in the Gothic style.

The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Librarymarker, designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, is one of the largest buildings in the world reserved exclusively for the preservation of rare books and manuscripts. It is located near the center of the University in Hewitt Quadrangle, which is now more commonly referred to as "Beinecke Plaza."

The library's six-story above-ground tower of book stacks is surrounded by a windowless rectangular building with walls made of translucent Vermont marble, which transmit subdued lighting to the interior and provide protection from direct light, while glowing from within after dark.

The sculptures in the sunken courtyard by Isamu Noguchi are said to represent time (the pyramid), the sun (the circle), and chance (the cube).

Alumnus Eero Saarinen, Finnish-American architect of such notable structures as the Gateway Archmarker in St. Louis, Washington Dulles International Airportmarker main terminal, and the CBS Buildingmarker in Manhattan, designed Ingalls Rinkmarker at Yale and the newest residential colleges of Ezra Stiles and Morse. These latter were modelled after the medieval Italian hilltown of San Gimignanomarker — a prototype chosen for the town's pedestrian-friendly milieu and fortress-like stone towers. These tower forms at Yale act in counterpoint to the college's many Gothic spires and Georgian cupolas.

Yale's Office of Sustainability develops and implements sustainability practices at Yale. Yale is committed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 10% below 1990 levels by the year 2020. As part of this commitment, the university allocates renewable energy credits to offset some of the energy used by residential colleges. Eleven campus buildings are candidates for LEED design and certification. The Yale Sustainable Food Project initiated the introduction of local, organic vegetables, fruits, and beef to all residential college dining halls. Yale was listed as a Campus Sustainability Leader on the Sustainable Endowments Institute’s College Sustainability Report Card 2008, and received a “B+” grade overall.

Notable nonresidential campus buildings

Notable nonresidential campus buildings and landmarks include Battell Chapelmarker, Beinecke Rare Book Librarymarker, Harkness Towermarker, Ingalls Rinkmarker, Kline Biology Tower, Osborne Memorial Laboratories, Payne Whitney Gymnasiummarker, Peabody Museum of Natural Historymarker, Sterling Hall of Medicine, Sterling Law Buildings, Sterling Memorial Librarymarker, Woolsey Hallmarker, Yale Center for British Artmarker, Yale University Art Gallerymarker, and Yale Art & Architecture Building.

Yale's secret society domiciles (some of which are called "tombs") were built both to be private yet unmistakeable. A diversity of architectural styles is represented: Berzelius, Don Barber in an austere cube with classical detailing (erected in 1908 or 1910); Book and Snake, Louis R. Metcalfe in a Greek Ionic style (erected in 1901); Elihu, architect unknown but built in a Colonial style (constructed on an early 17th century foundation although the building is from 18th century); Mace and Chain, in a late colonial, early Victorian style (built in 1823). Interior moulding is said to have belonged to Benedict Arnold; Manuscript Society, King Lui-Wu with Dan Kniley responsible for landscaping and Josef Albers for the brickwork intaglio mural. Building constructed in a mid-century modern style; Scroll and Key, Richard Morris Hunt in a Moorish- or Islamic-inspired Beaux-Arts style (erected 1869–70); Skull and Bonesmarker, possibly Alexander Jackson Davis or Henry Austin in an Egypto-Doric style utilizing Brownstone (in 1856 the first wing was completed, in 1903 the second wing, 1911 the Neo-Gothic towers in rear garden were completed); St. Elmo, (former tomb) Kenneth M. Murchison, 1912, designs inspired by Elizabethan manor. Current location, brick colonial; and Wolf's Head, Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue (erected 1923-4).

Campus safety

In the 1970s and 1980s, poverty and violent crime rose in New Haven, dampening Yale's student and faculty recruiting efforts. Between 1990 and 2006, New Haven's crime rate fell by half, helped by a community policing strategy by the New Haven police and Yale's campus became the safest among the Ivy League and other peer schools. In 2002–04, Yale reported 14 violent crimes (homicide, aggravated assault, or sex offenses), when Harvard reported 83 such incidents, Princeton 24, and Stanford 54. The incidence of nonviolent crime (burglary, arson, and motor vehicle theft) was also lower than most of its peer schools.

In 2004, a national non-profit watchdog group called Security on Campus filed a complaint with the Department of Education, accusing Yale of under-reporting rape and sexual assaults.

Murders or attempted murders involving Yale students or faculty include:
  • In 1974, Yale junior Gary Stein was killed in a robbery. Melvin Jones was convicted in the case and spent fifteen years in prison.
  • In 1991, Christian Prince, a sophomore and fourth-generation Yale alumnus, was killed during a robbery committed by 16-year-old James Duncan Fleming. Fleming received a nine-year prison sentence.
  • On June 24, 1993, computer science professor David Gelernter was seriously injured in his office in Arthur K. Watson Hall by a bomb sent by serial killer Ted Kaczynski ("The Unabomber").
  • In 1998, student Suzanne Jovin was stabbed to death in a wealthy neighborhood from the central campus. Allegations that her thesis advisor was a suspect led to the end of his career at Yale, but the crime remains unsolved.
  • In 2009, Annie Le, a pharmacology graduate student was found dead in a Yale laboratory building.

The Yale Campus has been the site of three bombing incidents. In addition to that carried out by the Unabomber, mentioned above, on May Day in 1970, during the New Haven Black Panther trials, two bombs were set off in the basement of Ingalls Rinkmarker. No injuries resulted, and the perpetrators were never identified.

On May 21, 2003, an explosive device went off at the Yale Law School, damaging two classrooms. The latter crime has not been solved, and no motive has been discerned; the bombing occurred while the nation was under an elevated terror alert, and while the university was involved in difficult labor negotiations. The homes of at least two former employees were searched, but no arrests have been made in the case.



Sterling Memorial Library

For the Class of 2013, Yale accepted 1,951 students out of 26,000 total applications, hitting a University record-low acceptance of 7.5%. Yale accepted 742 out of 5,556 early applicants and 1,209 out of 20,444 regular applicants.

Yale College offers need-blind admissions and need-based financial aid to all applicants, including international applicants. Yale commits to meet the full demonstrated financial need of all applicants, and more than 40% of Yale students receive financial assistance. Most financial aid is in the form of grants and scholarships that do not need to be paid back to the University, and the average scholarship for the 2006–2007 school year was $26,900.

Half of all Yale undergraduates are women, more than 30% are minorities, and 8% are international students. 55% attended public schools and 45% attended independent, religious, or international schools. In addition, Yale College admits a small group of nontraditional students each year, through the Eli Whitney Students Program.


Yale University Library, which holds over 12 million volumes, is the second-largest university collection in the United States. The main library, Sterling Memorial Librarymarker, contains about four million volumes, and other holdings are dispersed at subject libraries.

Rare books are found in a number of Yale collections. The Beinecke Rare Book Librarymarker has a large collection of rare books and manuscripts. The Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library includes important historical medical texts, including an impressive collection of rare books, as well as historical medical instruments. The Lewis Walpole Library contains the largest collection of 18th-century British literary works. The Elizabethan Club, technically a private organization, makes its Elizabethan folios and first editions available to qualified researchers through Yale.

Yale's museum collections are also of international stature. The Yale University Art Gallerymarker is the country's first university-affiliated art museum. It contains more than 180,000 works, including old masters and important collections of modern art, in the Swartout and Kahn buildings. The latter, Louis Kahn's first large-scale American work (1953), was renovated and reopened in December 2006. The Yale Center for British Artmarker, the largest collection of British art outside of the UK, grew from a gift of Paul Mellon and is housed in another Kahn-designed building.

The Peabody Museum of Natural Historymarker is New Haven's most popular museum, well-used by school children as well as containing research collections in anthropology, archaeology, and the natural environment. The Yale University Collection of Musical Instruments, affiliated with the Yale School of Music, is perhaps the least well-known of Yale's collections, because its hours of opening are restricted.

The museums also house the artifacts brought to the United States from Peru by Yale history professor Hiram Bingham in his expedition to Machu Picchu in 1912 - when the removal of such artifacts was legal. Peru would now like to have the items returned; Yale has so far declined.

Faculty, research, and intellectual traditions

The college is, after normalization for institution size, the tenth-largest baccalaureate source of doctoral degree recipients in the United States, and the largest such source within the Ivy League.

Yale's English and Comparative Literature departments were part of the New Criticism movement. Of the New Critics, Robert Penn Warren, W.K. Wimsatt, and Cleanth Brooks were all Yale faculty. Later, the Yale Comparative literature department became a center of American deconstruction. Jacques Derrida, the father of deconstruction, taught at the Department of Comparative Literature from the late seventies to mid-1980s. Several other Yale faculty members were also associated with deconstruction, forming the so-called "Yale School". These included Paul de Man who taught in the Departments of Comparative Literature and French, J. Hillis Miller, Geoffrey Hartman (both taught in the Departments of English and Comparative Literature), and Harold Bloom (English), whose theoretical position was always somewhat specific, and who ultimately took a very different path from the rest of this group. Yale's history department has also originated important intellectual trends. Historian C. Vann Woodward is credited for beginning in the 1960s an important stream of southern historians; likewise, David Montgomery, a labor historian, advised many of the current generation of labor historians in the country. Yale's Music School and Department fostered the growth of Music Theory in the latter half of the twentieth century. The Journal of Music Theory was founded there in 1957; Allen Forte and David Lewin were influential teachers and scholars, however the latter is more often affiliated with Harvard Universitymarker.

Campus life

Yale is a medium-sized research university, most of whose students are in the graduate and professional schools. Undergraduates, or Yale College students, come from a variety of ethnic, national, and socio-economic backgrounds. Of the 2006-07 freshman class, 9% are non-U.S. citizens, while 54% went to public high schools.Yale is also an open campus for the gay community. Its active LGBT community first received wide publicity in the late 1980s, when Yale obtained a reputation as the "gay Ivy," due largely to a 1987 Wall Street Journal article written by Julie V. Iovine, an alumna and the spouse of a Yale faculty member. During the same year, the University hosted a national conference on gay and lesbian studies and established the Lesbian and Gay Studies Center. The slogan "One in Four, Maybe More" was coined by the campus gay community. While the community in the 1980s and early 1990s was very activist, today most LGBT events have become part of the general campus social scene. For example, the annual LGBT Co-op Dance attracts straight as well as gay students.

Residential colleges

Yale has a system of 12 residential colleges, instituted in 1933 through a grant by Yale graduate Edward S. Harkness, who admired the college systems at Oxfordmarker and Cambridgemarker. Each college has a Dean, Master, affiliated faculty, and resident Fellows. Each college also features distinctive architecture, secluded courtyards, a commons room, meeting rooms/classrooms, and a dining hall; in addition some have chapels, libraries, squash courts, pool tables, short order dining counters, cafes, or darkrooms. While each college at Yale offers its own seminars, social events, and Master's Teas, most of them are open to students from other residential colleges.

All of Yale's 2,000 undergraduate courses are open to members of any college.

The dominant architecture of the residential colleges is Neo-Gothic, in line with the characteristic architecture of the university. Several colleges have other period architecture, such as Georgian and Federal, and the two most recent (Morsemarker and Ezra Stiles) have modernist concrete exteriors.

Students are assigned to a residential college for their freshman year. Only two residential colleges house freshmen. The majority of on-campus freshmen live on the "Old Campus", an extensive quadrangle formed by older buildings. Each residential college has its own dining hall, but students are permitted to eat in any residential college dining hall or the large dining facility called "Commons."

Residential colleges are named for important figures or places in university history or notable alumni.

List of residential colleges

This is a list of residential colleges at Yale.
  1. Berkeley College, named for the Rt. Rev. George Berkeley (1685–1753), early benefactor of Yale.
  2. Branford College, named for Branford, Connecticutmarker, where Yale was briefly located.
  3. Calhoun College, named for John C. Calhoun, vice-president and influential member of Congress of the United States.
  4. Davenport Collegemarker, named for Rev. John Davenport, the founder of New Haven. Often called "D'port".
  5. Ezra Stiles College, named for the Rev. Ezra Stiles, a president of Yale. Generally called "Stiles," despite an early-1990s crusade by then-master Traugott Lawler to preserve the use of the full name in everyday speech. Its buildings were designed by Eero Saarinen.
  6. Jonathan Edwards College, named for theologian, Yale alumnus, and Princeton co-founder Jonathan Edwards. Generally called "J.E." The oldest of the residential colleges, J.E. is the only college with an independent endowment, the Jonathan Edwards Trust.
  7. Morse Collegemarker, named for Samuel F. B. Morse, inventor of Morse code and the telegraph. Also designed by Eero Saarinen.
  8. Pierson College, named for Yale's first rector, Abraham Pierson.
  9. Saybrook College, named for Old Saybrook, Connecticutmarker, the town in which Yale was founded.
  10. Silliman Collegemarker, named for noted scientist and Yale professor Benjamin Silliman. About half of its structures were originally part of the Sheffield Scientific School.
  11. Timothy Dwight College, named for the two Yale presidents of that name, Timothy Dwight IV and Timothy Dwight V. Often abbreviated "T.D."
  12. Trumbull College, named for Jonathan Trumbull, first Governor of Connecticut.

In 1998, Yale launched a series of extensive renovations to the older residential buildings, which in many decades of existence had seen only routine maintenance and incremental improvements to plumbing, heating, and electrical and network wiring. Many of these renovations have now been completed, and among other improvements, renovated colleges feature newly built basement facilities including restaurants, game rooms, theaters, athletic facilities, and music practice rooms.

In June 2008, President Levin announced that the Yale Corporation had authorized the construction of two new residential colleges, scheduled to open in 2013. The additional colleges, to be built in the northern part of the campus, will allow for expanded admission and a reduction of crowding in the existing residential colleges. Designs have been released, and some public controversy has surfaced over Yale's decision to demolish a number of historic buildings on the site, including a recently constructed library, in order to clear it for the $600 million new structures.

Student organizations

The Yale Political Union, the oldest student political organization in the United States , is often the largest organization on campus, and is advised by alumni political leaders such as John Kerry and George Pataki.

The university hosts a variety of student journals, magazines, and newspapers. The latter category includes the Yale Daily News, which was first published in 1878, as well as the weekly Yale Herald, published since 1986. Dwight Hall, an independent, non-profit community service organization, oversees more than 2,000 Yale undergraduates working on more than 70 community service initiatives in New Haven. The Yale College Council runs several agencies that oversee campus wide activities and student services. The Yale Dramatic Association and Bulldog Productions cater to the theater and film communities, respectively. In addition, the Yale Drama Coalition serves to coordinate between and provide resources for the various Sudler Fund sponsored theater productions which run each weekend.

The campus also includes several fraternities and sororities. The campus features at least 18 a cappella groups, the most famous of which is The Whiffenpoofs, who are unusual among college singing groups in being made up solely of senior men.

Yale's secret societies include Skull and Bonesmarker, Scroll and Key, Wolf's Head, Book and Snake, Elihu, Berzelius, St. Elmo, Manuscript, and Mace and Chain.

The Elizabethan Club, a social club, has a membership of undergraduates, graduates, faculty and staff with literary or artistic interests. Membership is by invitation. Members and their guests may enter the "Lizzie's" premises for conversation and tea. The club owns first editions of a Shakespeare Folio, several Shakespeare Quartos, a first edition of Milton's Paradise Lost, among other important literary texts.


Yale seniors at graduation smash clay pipes underfoot to symbolize passage from their "bright college years." ("Bright College Years," the University's alma mater, was penned in 1881 by Henry Durand, Class of 1881, to the tune of Die Wacht am Rhein.) Yale's student tour guides tell visitors that students consider it good luck to rub the toe of the statue of Theodore Dwight Woolsey on Old Campus. Actual students rarely do so.


Yale supports 35 varsity athletic teams that compete in the Ivy League Conference, the Eastern College Athletic Conference, the New England Intercollegiate Sailing Association. Yale athletic teams compete intercollegiately at the NCAA Division I level. Like other members of the Ivy League, Yale does not offer athletic scholarships.

Yale has numerous athletic facilities, including the Yale Bowlmarker (the nation's first natural "bowl" stadium, and prototype for such stadiums as the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseummarker and the Rose Bowlmarker), located at The Walter Camp Field athletic complex, and the Payne Whitney Gymnasiummarker, the second-largest indoor athletic complex in the world.October 21, 2000 marked the dedication of Yale's fourth new boathouse in 157 years of collegiate rowing. The Richard Gilder Boathouse is named to honor former Olympic rower Virginia Gilder '79 and her father Richard Gilder '54, who gave $4 million towards the $7.5 million project. Yale also maintains the Gales Ferrymarker site where the heavyweight men's team trains for the prestigious Yale-Harvard Boat Race.

Yale crew is the oldest collegiate athletic team in America, and won Olympic Games Gold Medal for men's eights in 1924 and 1956. The Yale Corinthian Yacht Clubmarker, founded in 1881, is the oldest collegiate sailing club in the world.

In 1896, Yale and Johns Hopkins played the first known ice hockey game in the United States. Since 2006, the school's ice hockey clubs have played a commemorative game.

For kicks, between 1954 and 1982, residential college teams and student organizations played bladderball.

Yale students claim to have invented Frisbee, by tossing empty Frisbie Pie Company tins.


Notable among the songs commonly played and sung at events such as commencement, convocation, alumni gatherings, and athletic games are the alma mater, "Bright College Years", and the Yale fight song, "Down the Field."

Two other fight songs, "Bulldog, Bulldog" and "Bingo Eli Yale", written by Cole Porter during his undergraduate days, are still sung at football games. Another fight song sung at games is "Boola Boola". According to “College Fight Songs: An Annotated Anthology” published in 1998, “Down the Field” ranks as the fourth-greatest fight song of all time.


The logo of the Yale Bulldogs.
The school mascot is "Handsome Dan," the known Yale bulldog, and the Yale fight song (written by Cole Porter while he was a student at Yale) contains the refrain, "Bulldog, bulldog, bow wow wow." The school color is Yale Blue. Yale's Handsome Dan is believed to be the first college mascot in America, having been established in 1889.

Yale athletics are supported by the Yale Precision Marching Band. The band attends every home football game and many away, as well as most hockey and basketball games throughout the winter.

Yale intramural sports are also a significant aspect of student life. Students compete for their respective residential colleges, fostering a friendly rivalry. The year is divided into fall, winter, and spring seasons, each of which includes about ten different sports. About half the sports are coeducational. At the end of the year, the residential college with the most points (not all sports count equally) wins the Tyng Cup.

In 2004, some Yale students played a prank on Harvard University. While at The Game against Harvard, Yale students posed as Harvard fans and handed out large cards that true Harvard fans were told would collectively spell "Go Harvard." The cards were in fact arranged to spell "We suck".

Notable people


Yale has had many financial supporters, but some stand out by the magnitude or timeliness of their contributions. Among those who have made large donations commemorated at the university are: Elihu Yale; Jeremiah Dummer; the Harkness family (Edward, Anna, and William); the Beineckemarker family (Edwin, Frederick, and Walter); John William Sterling; Payne Whitney; Joseph E. Sheffield, Paul Mellon,Charles B. G. Murphy and William K. Lanman. The Yale Class of 1954, led by Richard Gilder, donated $70 million in commemoration of their 50th reunion.

Notable alumni and faculty

Yale has produced alumni distinguished in their respective fields. Among the most well known are U.S. Presidents William Howard Taft, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush; current Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas; U.S. Secretaries of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Dean Acheson; Democratic Presidential nominee John Kerry; recent Nobel Laureates Paul Krugman, Edmund Phelps, John Bennett Fenn, Raymond Davis Jr., George Akerlof and Thomas A. Steitz; Pulitzer Prize winners Stephen Vincent Benet, Bob Woodward, John Hersey, Garry Trudeau, David McCullough and David M. Kennedy; authors Sinclair Lewis, and Tom Wolfe; lexicographer Noah Webster; inventors Samuel F.B. Morse and Eli Whitney; patriot and "first spy" Nathan Hale; theologians Jonathan Edwards and Reinhold Niebuhr; Academy Award winners Paul Newman, Meryl Streep, Douglas Wick, Holly Hunter, and Jodie Foster; "Father of American football" Walter Camp; "Perfect Oarsman" Rusty Wailes; composers Charles Ives and Cole Porter; Morgan Stanley founder Harold Stanley; FedEx founder Frederick W. Smith; academics Benjamin Silliman, Camille Paglia, Harold Bloom, Alan Dershowitz, and Henry Louis Gates Jr.; Peace Corps founder Sargent Shriver; neurosurgeon Harvey Williams Cushing; child psychologist Benjamin Spock; sculptor Richard Serra; film critic Gene Siskel; popularizer of science Clifford Pickover, popularizer of American literature William Lyon Phelps; architects Maya Lin, Richard Rogers and Norman Foster; television commentators Dick Cavett and Anderson Cooper; pundits William F. Buckley, Jr., David Gergen and Fareed Zakaria; Time Magazine co-founder Henry Luce; former President of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo; former President of the Federal Republic of Germany Karl Carstens; and former Philippines President José Paciano Laurel.

See List of Yale University people for other notable members of the alumni community.

Yale in fiction and popular culture

  • Owen Johnson's novel, Stover at Yale, follows the college career of Dink Stover.
  • Yale also appears in F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel The Great Gatsby and his short stories "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and "Bernice Bobs Her Hair."
  • Frank Merriwell, the model for all later juvenile sports fiction, plays football, baseball, crew, and track at Yale while solving mysteries and righting wrongs.
  • Mary Mazzio's 1999 documentary film, A Hero for Daisy, chronicles the 1976 demonstration at Yale in which the women's rowing team demanded equal athletic facilities.
  • In the show Gilmore Girls, Logan Huntzberger, Rory Gilmore, Richard Gilmore, and Paris Gellar all went to Yale.
  • Rory Gilmore and Paris Gellar also served as editors of the Yale Daily News.
  • In Boy Meets World, Topanga Lawrence is accepted into Yale but rejects it to stay at Penbrooke with her boyfriend/fiancee Cory Matthews.
  • Yale is a theme in the TV show Gossip Girl.
  • In Beverly Hills, 90210, the character of Andrea Zuckerman goes to Yale.
  • In John Grisham's legal-thriller The Associate, protagonist Kyle McAvoy graduates from Yale Law School.
  • In the short-lived ABC series Traveler, Jay Burchell is a Yale Law School graduate, Tyler Fog is a Yale School of Management graduate, and Will Traveler has a graduate degree in chemical engineering from Yale.
  • In the 2006 romantic comedy, It's a Boy Girl Thing, Nell Bedworth has dreamed of going to Yale since she was a little girl. While having switched bodies with star quarterback, Woody Deane, he survives the Yale interview and once switched back, Nell receives her letter of acceptance.

Further reading

Secret Societies

  • Robbins, Alexandra, Secrets of the Tomb: Skull and Bones, the Ivy League, and the Hidden Paths of Power, Little Brown & Co., 2002; ISBN 0-316-73561-2 (paper edition).
  • Millegan, Kris (ed.), Fleshing Out Skull & Bones, TrineDay, 2003. ISBN 0-9752906-0-6 (paper edition).

Notes and references

External links

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