Yale University

Yale University is an American private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701, it is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States.

Chartered by Connecticut Colony, the "Collegiate School" was established by clergy in Saybrook Colony to educate Congregationalist ministers. It moved to New Haven in 1716, and shortly after was renamed Yale College in recognition of a gift from British East India Company governor Elihu Yale. Originally restricted to theology and sacred languages, the curriculum began to incorporate humanities and sciences by the time of the American Revolution. In the 19th century the school introduced graduate and professional instruction, awarding the first Ph.D. in the United States in 1861 and organizing as a university in 1887. Its faculty and student populations grew rapidly after 1890 with rapid expansion of the physical campus and scientific research.

Yale is organized into fourteen constituent schools: the original undergraduate college, the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and twelve professional schools. While the university is governed by the Yale Corporation, each school's faculty oversees its curriculum and degree programs. In addition to a central campus in downtown New Haven, the University owns athletic facilities in western New Haven, a campus in West Haven, Connecticut, and forest and nature preserves throughout New England. The university's assets include an endowment valued at $25.4 billion as of June 2016, the second largest of any U.S. educational institution. The Yale University Library, serving all constituent schools, holds more than 15 million volumes and is the third-largest academic library in the United States.

Yale College undergraduates follow a liberal arts curriculum with departmental majors and are organized into a social system of residential colleges. Almost all faculty teach undergraduate courses, more than 2,000 of which are offered annually. Students compete intercollegiately as the Yale Bulldogs in the NCAA Division IIvy League.

Yale has graduated many notable alumni, including five U.S. Presidents, 19 U.S. Supreme Court Justices, 20 living billionaires, and many heads of state. In addition, Yale has graduated hundreds of members of Congress and many high-level U.S. diplomats. 57 Nobel laureates, 5 Fields Medalists, 78 MacArthur Fellows, 247 Rhodes Scholars, and 119 Marshall Scholars have been affiliated with the University.

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Yale University Shield 1.svg
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Yale University logo.svg

History

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Charter creating Collegiate School, which became Yale College, October 9, 1701
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A Front View of Yale-College and the College Chapel, Daniel Bowen, 1786.
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Coat of arms of the family of Elihu Yale, after whom the University was named in 1718

Early history of Yale College

Origins

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Official seal used by the College and the University

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, while meeting in New Haven. The Act was an effort to create an institution to train ministers and lay leadership for Connecticut. Soon thereafter, a group of ten Congregationalist ministers: Samuel Andrew, Thomas Buckingham, Israel Chauncy, Samuel Mather, Rev. James Noyes II (son of James Noyes), James Pierpont, Abraham Pierson, Noadiah Russell, Joseph Webb and Timothy Woodbridge, all alumni of Harvard, met in the study of Reverend Samuel Russell in Branford, Connecticut, to pool their books to form the school's library. The group, led by James Pierpont, is now known as "The Founders".

Originally known as the "Collegiate School," the institution opened in the home of its first rector, Abraham Pierson, in Killingworth (now Clinton). The school moved to Saybrook, and then Wethersfield. In 1716 the college moved to New Haven, Connecticut.

Meanwhile, there was a rift forming at Harvard between its sixth president Increase Mather and the rest of the Harvard clergy, whom Mather viewed as increasingly liberal, ecclesiastically lax, and overly broad in Church polity. 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.

Naming and development

In 1718, at the behest of either Rector Samuel Andrew or the colony's Governor Gurdon Saltonstall, Cotton Mather contacted the successful Boston born businessman Elihu Yale to ask him for financial help in constructing a new building for the college. Through the persuasion of Jeremiah Dummer, Yale, who had made a fortune through trade while living in Madras 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. Cotton Mather suggested that the school change its name to "Yale College". (The name Yale is the Anglicised spelling of the Welsh toponym, Iâl. from the family estate at Plas yn Iâl near the village of Llandegla, Denbighshire, Wales).

Meanwhile, a Harvard graduate working in England convinced some 180 prominent intellectuals that they should donate books to Yale. The 1714 shipment of 500 books represented the best of modern English literature, science, philosophy and theology. It had a profound effect on intellectuals at Yale. Undergraduate Jonathan Edwards discovered John Locke's works and developed his original theology known as the "new divinity". In 1722 the Rector and six of his friends, who had a study group to discuss the new ideas, announced that they had given up Calvinism, become Arminians, and joined the Church of England. They were ordained in England and returned to the colonies as missionaries for the Anglican faith. Thomas Clapp became president in 1745, and struggled to return the college to Calvinist orthodoxy; but he did not close the library. Other students found Deist books in the library.

Curriculum

Yale was swept up by the great intellectual movements of the period—the Great Awakening and the Enlightenment—due to the religious and scientific interests of presidents Thomas Clap and Ezra Stiles. They were both instrumental in developing the scientific curriculum at Yale, while dealing with wars, student tumults, graffiti, "irrelevance" of curricula, desperate need for endowment, and fights with the Connecticut legislature.

Serious American students of theology and divinity, particularly in New England, 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 phrase אורים ותמים (Urim and Thummim) on the Yale seal. A 1746 graduate of Yale, Stiles came to the college with experience in education, having played an integral role in the founding of Brown University in addition to having been a minister. Stiles' greatest challenge occurred in July 1779 when hostile British forces occupied New Haven and threatened to raze the College. However, 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.

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First diploma awarded by Yale College, granted to Nathaniel Chauncey, 1702.

Students

As the only college in Connecticut, Yale educated the sons of the elite. Offenses for which students were punished included cardplaying, tavern-going, destruction of college property, and acts of disobedience to college authorities. During the period, Harvard was distinctive for the stability and maturity of its tutor corps, while Yale had youth and zeal on its side.

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.

19th century

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Woolsey Hall in c. 1905

The Yale Report of 1828 was a dogmatic defense of the Latin and Greek curriculum against critics who wanted more courses in modern languages, mathematics, and science. Unlike higher education in Europe, there was no national curriculum for colleges and universities in the United States. In the competition for students and financial support, college leaders strove to keep current with demands for innovation. At the same time, they realized that a significant portion of their students and prospective students demanded a classical background. The Yale report meant the classics would not be abandoned. All institutions experimented with changes in the curriculum, often resulting in a dual track. In the decentralized environment of higher education in the United States, balancing change with tradition was a common challenge because no one could afford to be completely modern or completely classical. A group of professors at Yale and New Haven Congregationalist ministers articulated a conservative response to the changes brought about by the Victorian culture. They concentrated on developing a whole man possessed of religious values sufficiently strong to resist temptations from within, yet flexible enough to adjust to the 'isms' (professionalism, materialism, individualism, and consumerism) tempting him from without. William Graham Sumner, professor from 1872 to 1909, taught in the emerging disciplines of economics and sociology to overflowing classrooms. He bested President Noah Porter, who disliked social science and wanted Yale to lock into its traditions of classical education. Porter objected to Sumner's use of a textbook by Herbert Spencer that espoused agnostic materialism because it might harm students.

Until 1887, the legal name of the university was "The President and Fellows of Yale College, in New Haven". In 1887, under an act passed by the Connecticut General Assembly, Yale gained its current, and shorter, name of "Yale University".

Sports and debate

The Revolutionary War soldier Nathan Hale (Yale 1773) was the prototype of the Yale ideal in the early 19th century: a manly yet aristocratic scholar, equally well-versed in knowledge and sports, and a patriot who "regretted" that he "had but one life to lose" for his country. Western painter Frederic Remington (Yale 1900) was an artist whose heroes gloried in combat and tests of strength in the Wild West. The fictional, turn-of-the-20th-century Yale man Frank Merriwell embodied the heroic ideal without racial prejudice, and his fictional successor Frank Stover in the novel Stover at Yale (1911) questioned the business mentality that had become prevalent at the school. Increasingly the students turned to athletic stars as their heroes, especially since winning the big game became the goal of the student body, and the alumni, as well as the team itself.

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Yale's four-oared crew team, posing with 1876 Centennial Regatta trophy, won at Philadelphia.

Along with Harvard and Princeton, Yale students rejected elite British concepts about 'amateurism' in sports and constructed athletic programs that were uniquely American, such as football. The Harvard–Yale football rivalry began in 1875.

Between 1892, when Harvard and Yale met in one of the first intercollegiate debates, and 1909, the year of the first Triangular Debate of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, the rhetoric, symbolism, and metaphors used in athletics were used to frame these early debates. Debates were covered on front pages of college newspapers and emphasized in yearbooks, and team members even received the equivalent of athletic letters for their jackets. There even were rallies sending off the debating teams to matches. Yet, the debates never attained the broad appeal that athletics enjoyed. One reason may be that debates do not have a clear winner, as is the case in sports, and that scoring is subjective. In addition, with late 19th-century concerns about the impact of modern life on the human body, athletics offered hope that neither the individual nor the society was coming apart.

In 1909–10, football faced a crisis resulting from the failure of the previous reforms of 1905–06 to solve the problem of serious injuries. There was a mood of alarm and mistrust, and, while the crisis was developing, the presidents of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton developed a project to reform the sport and forestall possible radical changes forced by government upon the sport. President Arthur Hadley of Yale, A. Lawrence Lowell of Harvard, and Woodrow Wilson of Princeton worked to develop moderate changes to reduce injuries. Their attempts, however, were reduced by rebellion against the rules committee and formation of the Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The big three had tried to operate independently of the majority, but changes did reduce injuries.

Expansion

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Connecticut Hall, oldest building on the Yale campus, built between 1750 and 1753.

Yale 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). In 1887, as the college continued to grow under the presidency of Timothy Dwight V, Yale College was renamed Yale University, with the name Yale College subsequently applied to the undergraduate college. The university would later add the Yale School of Music (1894), the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (founded by Gifford Pinchot in 1900), the Yale School of Public Health (1915), the Yale School of Nursing (1923), the Yale School of Drama (1955), the Yale Physician Associate Program (1973), and the Yale School of Management (1976). It would also reorganize its relationship with the Sheffield Scientific School.

Expansion caused controversy about Yale's new roles. Noah Porter, moral philosopher, was president from 1871 to 1886. During an age of tremendous expansion in higher education, Porter resisted the rise of the new research university, claiming that an eager embrace of its ideals would corrupt undergraduate education. Many of Porter's contemporaries criticized his administration, and historians since have disparaged his leadership. Levesque argues Porter was not a simple-minded reactionary, uncritically committed to tradition, but a principled and selective conservative. He did not endorse everything old or reject everything new; rather, he sought to apply long-established ethical and pedagogical principles to a rapidly changing culture. He may have misunderstood some of the challenges of his time, but he correctly anticipated the enduring tensions that have accompanied the emergence and growth of the modern university.

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Richard Rummell's 1906 watercolor of the Yale campus, facing north.

20th century

Behavioral sciences

Between 1925 and 1940, philanthropic foundations, especially ones connected with the Rockefellers, contributed about $7 million to support the Yale Institute of Human Relations and the affiliated Yerkes Laboratories of Primate Biology. The money went toward behavioral science research, which was supported by foundation officers who aimed to "improve mankind" under an informal, loosely defined human engineering effort. The behavioral scientists at Yale, led by President James R. Angell and psychobiologist Robert M. Yerkes, tapped into foundation largesse by crafting research programs aimed to investigate, then suggest, ways to control, sexual and social behavior. For example, Yerkes analyzed chimpanzee sexual behavior in hopes of illuminating the evolutionary underpinnings of human development and providing information that could ameliorate dysfunction. Ultimately, the behavioral-science results disappointed foundation officers, who shifted their human-engineering funds toward biological sciences.

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Old Brick Row in 1807.

Biology

Slack (2003) compares three groups that conducted biological research at Yale during overlapping periods between 1910 and 1970. Yale proved important as a site for this research. The leaders of these groups were Ross Granville Harrison, Grace E. Pickford, and G. Evelyn Hutchinson, and their members included both graduate students and more experienced scientists. All produced innovative research, including the opening of new subfields in embryology, endocrinology, and ecology, respectively, over a long period of time. Harrison's group is shown to have been a classic research school; Pickford's and Hutchinson's were not. Pickford's group was successful in spite of her lack of departmental or institutional position or power. Hutchinson and his graduate and postgraduate students were extremely productive, but in diverse areas of ecology rather than one focused area of research or the use of one set of research tools. Hutchinson's example shows that new models for research groups are needed, especially for those that include extensive field research.

Medicine

Milton Winternitz led the Yale School of Medicine as its dean from 1920 to 1935. Dedicated to the new scientific medicine established in Germany, he was equally fervent about "social medicine" and the study of humans in their culture and environment. He established the "Yale System" of teaching, with few lectures and fewer exams, and strengthened the full-time faculty system; he also created the graduate-level Yale School of Nursing and the Psychiatry Department, and built numerous new buildings. Progress toward his plans for an Institute of Human Relations, envisioned as a refuge where social scientists would collaborate with biological scientists in a holistic study of humankind, unfortunately lasted for only a few years before the opposition of resentful anti-Semitic colleagues drove him to resign.

Faculty

Before World War II, most elite university faculties counted among their numbers few, if any, Jews, blacks, women, or other minorities; Yale was no exception. By 1980, this condition had been altered dramatically, as numerous members of those groups held faculty positions.

History and American studies

The American studies program reflected the worldwide anti-Communist ideological struggle. Norman Holmes Pearson, who worked for the Office of Strategic Studies in London during World War II, returned to Yale and headed the new American studies program, in which scholarship quickly became an instrument of promoting liberty. Popular among undergraduates, the program sought to instruct them in the fundamentals of American civilization and thereby instill a sense of nationalism and national purpose. Also during the 1940s and 1950s, Wyoming millionaire William Robertson Coe made large contributions to the American studies programs at Yale University and at the University of Wyoming. Coe was concerned to celebrate the 'values' of the Western United States in order to meet the "threat of communism".

Women

Women studied at Yale University as early as 1892, in graduate-level programs at the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

In 1966, Yale began discussions with its sister school Vassar College about merging to foster coeducation at the undergraduate level. Vassar, then all-female and part of the Seven Sisters—elite higher education schools that historically served as sister institutions to the Ivy League when the Ivy League still only admitted men—tentatively accepted, but then declined the invitation. Both schools introduced 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. The undergraduate class of 1973 was the first class to have women starting from freshman year; at the time, all undergraduate women were housed in Vanderbilt Hall at the south end of Old Campus.

A decade into co-education, student assault and harassment by faculty became the impetus for the trailblazing lawsuit Alexander v. Yale. While unsuccessful in the courts, the legal reasoning behind the case changed the landscape of sex discrimination law and resulted in the establishment of Yale's Grievance Board and the Yale Women's Center. In March 2011 a Title IX complaint was filed against Yale by students and recent graduates, including editors of Yale's feminist magazine Broad Recognition, alleging that the university had a hostile sexual climate. In response, the university formed a Title IX steering committee to address complaints of sexual misconduct.

Class

Yale, like other Ivy League schools, instituted policies in the early 20th century designed to maintain the proportion of white Protestants 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.

Town–gown relations

Yale has a complicated relationship with its home city; for example, thousands of students volunteer every year in a myriad of community organizations, but city officials, who decry Yale's exemption from local property taxes, have long pressed the university to do more to help. Under President Levin, Yale has financially supported many of New Haven's efforts to reinvigorate the city. Evidence suggests that the town and gown relationships are mutually beneficial. Still, the economic power of the university increased dramatically with its financial success amid a decline in the local economy.

21st century

In 2006, Yale and Peking University (PKU) established a Joint Undergraduate Program in Beijing, an exchange program allowing Yale students to spend a semester living and studying with PKU honor students. In July 2012, the Peking University-Yale University Program ended due to weak participation.

In 2007 outgoing 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."

President George W. Bush, a Yale alumnus, criticized the university for the snobbery and intellectual arrogance he encountered as a student there.

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 Hillary Clinton (2016), 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 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 University, 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' 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".

In 2009, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair picked Yale as one location – the others are Britain's Durham University and Universiti Teknologi Mara – for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation's United States Faith and Globalization Initiative. As of 2009, former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo is the director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization and teaches an undergraduate seminar, "Debating Globalization". As of 2009, former presidential candidate and DNC chair Howard Dean teaches a residential college seminar, "Understanding Politics and Politicians". Also in 2009, an alliance was formed among Yale, University College London, and both schools' affiliated hospital complexes to conduct research focused on the direct improvement of patient care—a growing field known as translational medicine. President Richard Levin noted that Yale has hundreds of other partnerships across the world, but "no existing collaboration matches the scale of the new partnership with UCL".

New international Yale initiatives launched included (among many others):

  • Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, promoting international education University-wide;
  • Global Health Initiative, uniting and expanding global health efforts across campus;
  • Yale India Initiative, expanding the study of and engagement with India;
  • Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, bridging the gap between academia and the world of public policy; and
  • Yale China Law Center, promoting the rule of law in China.
  • Yale – Management Guild
  • New global research and educational partnerships included (among many others):
  • Yale-Universidad de Chile International Program in Astronomy Education and Research;
  • Peking-Yale Joint Center for Plant Molecular Genetics and Agrobiology;
  • Todai–Yale Initiative for the Study of Japan;
  • Fudan-Yale Biomedical Research Center in Shanghai;
  • Yale-University College London Collaboration; and
  • UNSAAC-Yale Center for the Study of Machu Picchu and Inca Culture in Peru.

The most ambitious international partnership to date is Yale-NUS College in Singapore, a joint effort with the National University of Singapore to create a new liberal arts college in Asia featuring an innovative curriculum that weaves Western and Asian traditions, set to open in August 2013.

Administration and organization

Leadership

School founding
School
Year founded
Yale College
1701
Yale School of Medicine
1810
Yale Divinity School
1822
Yale Law School
1843
Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
1847
Sheffield Scientific School
1847
Yale School of Fine Arts
1869
Yale School of Music
1894
Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
1900
Yale School of Public Health
1915
Yale School of Architecture
1916
Yale School of Nursing
1923
Yale School of Drama
1955
Yale School of Management
1976

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

Yale's former president Richard C. Levin was, at the time, one of the highest paid university presidents in the United States with a 2008 salary of $1.5 million.

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 Chicago, 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 Pennsylvania. In 2002 Provost Alison Richard became the Vice Chancellor of the University of Cambridge. In 2004, Provost Susan Hockfield became the President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2007 Deputy Provost Kim Bottomly was named President of Wellesley College. In 2003, the Dean of the Divinity School, Rebecca Chopp, was appointed president of Colgate University and now heads Swarthmore College.

The university has three major academic components: Yale College (the undergraduate program), the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the professional schools. In 2008 Provost Andrew Hamilton was confirmed to be the Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford. Former Dean of Yale College Richard H. Brodhead serves as the President of Duke University.

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Yale Art Gallery Sculpture. The gallery is free and open to the public.

Staff and labor unions

Much of Yale University's staff, including most maintenance staff, dining hall employees, and administrative staff, are unionized. Clerical and technical employees are represented by Local 34 of UNITE HERE and service and maintenance workers by Local 35 of the same international. Together with the Graduate Employees and Students Organization (GESO), an unrecognized union of graduate employees, Locals 34 and 35 make up the Federation of Hospital and University Employees. Also included in FHUE are the dietary workers at Yale–New Haven Hospital, who are members of 1199 SEIU. In addition to these unions, officers of the Yale University Police Department are members of the Yale Police Benevolent Association, which affiliated in 2005 with the Connecticut Organization for Public Safety Employees. Finally, Yale security officers voted to join the International Union of Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America in fall 2010 after the National Labor Relations Board ruled they could not join AFSCME; the Yale administration contested the election.

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 exacerbates the tension over wages. Moreover, Yale has been accused of failing to treat workers with respect. In a 2003 strike, however, the university claimed that more union employees were working than striking. Professor David Graeber was 'retired' after he came to the defense of a student who was involved in campus labor issues.

Campus

Yale's central campus in downtown New Haven covers 260 acres (1.1 km2) and comprises its main, historic campus and a medical campus adjacent to the Yale–New Haven Hospital. In western New Haven, the university holds 500 acres (2.0 km2) of athletic facilities, including the Yale Golf Course. In 2008, Yale purchased the 136-acre (0.55 km2) former Bayer Pharmaceutical campus in West Haven, Connecticut, the buildings of which are now used as laboratory and research space. Yale also owns seven forests in Connecticut, Vermont, and New Hampshire—the largest of which is the 7,840-acre (31.7 km2) Yale-Myers Forest in Connecticut's Quiet Corner—and nature preserves including Horse Island.

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 Avenue, which was considered the most beautiful street in America by Charles Dickens when he visited the United States in the 1840s. In 2011, Travel+Leisure listed the Yale campus as one of the most beautiful in the United States.

Many of Yale's buildings were constructed in the Collegiate Gothic architecture style from 1917 to 1931, financed largely by Edward S. Harkness, including the Yale Drama School. 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 Tower, 216 feet (66 m) 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 College, the largest residential college.

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Statue of Nathan Hale in front of Connecticut Hall

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

The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & 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 Arch in St. Louis, Washington Dulles International Airport main terminal, Bell Labs Holmdel Complex and the CBS Building in Manhattan, designed Ingalls Rink at Yale and the newest residential colleges of Ezra Stiles and Morse. These latter were modelled after the medieval Italian hilltown of San Gimignano – 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. 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.

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Yale's Old Campus at dusk, April 2013

Notable nonresidential campus buildings

Notable nonresidential campus buildings and landmarks include Battell Chapel, Beinecke Rare Book Library, Harkness Tower, Ingalls Rink, Kline Biology Tower, Osborne Memorial Laboratories, Payne Whitney Gymnasium, Peabody Museum of Natural History, Sterling Hall of Medicine, Sterling Law Buildings, Sterling Memorial Library, Woolsey Hall, Yale Center for British Art, Yale University Art Gallery, Yale Art & Architecture Building, and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in London.

Yale's secret society buildings (some of which are called "tombs") were built both to be private yet unmistakable. A diversity of architectural styles is represented: Berzelius, Donn 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 the 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 Bones, 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; Shabtai, 1882, the Anderson Mansion built in the Second Empire architectural style; and Wolf's Head, Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, erected 1923–1924, Collegiate Gothic.

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The Starr Reading Room in Sterling Memorial Library

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The nave of Sterling Memorial Library

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Harkness Tower

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The Library Circulation Desk

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Memorial Chapel on Yale's Old Campus

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The Yale School of Management

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Yale School of Architecture

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Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

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Connecticut Hall

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Hewitt Quadrangle

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Memorial Quadrangle Gate

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Yale Peabody Museum

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The Yale Bowl

Campus safety

Several campus safety strategies have been pioneered at Yale. The first campus police force was founded at Yale in 1894, when the university contracted city police officers to exclusively cover the campus. Later hired by the university, the officers were originally brought in to quell unrest between students and city residents and curb destructive student behavior. In addition to the Yale Police Department, a variety of safety services are available including blue phones, a safety escort, and 24-hour shuttle service.

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. Nonetheless, across the board, the city of New Haven has retained the highest levels of crime of any Ivy League city for more than a decade.

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

Academics

Admissions

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Yale University's Sterling Memorial Library, as seen from Maya Lin's sculpture, Women's Table. The sculpture records the number of women enrolled at Yale over its history; female undergraduates were not admitted until 1969.
Fall Freshman Statistics
  2016 2015 2014 2013
Applicants 31,455 30,236 30,932 29,610
Admits 1,972 2,034 1,950 2,031
Admit rate 6.3% 6.7% 6.3% 6.9%
Enrolled 1,373 1,364 1,360 1,359
SAT range N/A 2140-2390 2120-2390 2140-2390
ACT range 32-36 31-35 31-35 31-35

Undergraduate admission to Yale College is considered "most selective" by U.S. News. In 2016, Yale accepted 1,972 students to the Class of 2020 out of 31,455 applicants, for an acceptance rate of 6.27%. 98% of students graduate within six years.

Through its program of need-based financial aid, Yale commits to meet the full demonstrated financial need of all applicants. 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 need-based aid grant for the Class of 2017 was $46,395. 15% of Yale College students are expected to have no parental contribution, and about 50% receive some form of financial aid. About 16% of the Class of 2013 had some form of student loan debt at graduation, with an average debt of $13,000 among borrowers.

Half of all Yale undergraduates are women, more than 39% are ethnic minority U.S. citizens (19% are underrepresented minorities), and 10.5% are international students. Fifty-five percent attended public schools and 45% attended private, religious, or international schools, and 97% of students were in the top 10% of their high school class. Every year, Yale College also admits a small group of non-traditional students through the Eli Whitney Students Program.

Collections

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The Night Café, Vincent van Gogh, 1888, Yale Art Gallery.

Yale University Library, which holds over 15 million volumes, is the third-largest university collection in the United States. The main library, Sterling Memorial Library, contains about 4 million volumes, and other holdings are dispersed at subject libraries.

Rare books are found in several Yale collections. The Beinecke Rare Book Library 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 Gallery, the country's first university-affiliated art museum, 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 Art, 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 History in New Haven is used by school children and contains 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-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. In November 2010, a Yale University representative agreed to return the artifacts to a Peruvian university.

Rankings

The U.S. News & World Report ranked Yale third among U.S. national universities for 2016, as it has for each of the past sixteen years, in every list trailing only Princeton and Harvard. It was ranked 11th in the 2016 Academic Ranking of World Universities, 12th in the 2016 Times Higher Education World University Rankings and 15th in the 2016/17 QS World University Rankings.

Faculty, research, and intellectual traditions

Yale's faculty include 61 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 7 members of the National Academy of Engineering and 49 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 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. Historians C. Vann Woodward and David Brion Davis are credited with beginning in the 1960s and 1970s 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 20th century. The Journal of Music Theory was founded there in 1957; Allen Forte and David Lewin were influential teachers and scholars.

Since summer 2010, Yale has also been host to Yale Publishing Course.

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 socioeconomic backgrounds. Of the 2010–2011 freshman class, 10% are non‑U.S. citizens, while 54% went to public high schools.

Residential colleges

Yale's residential college system was established in 1933 by Edward S. Harkness, who admired the social intimacy of Oxford and Cambridge and donated significant funds to found similar colleges at Yale and Harvard. Though Yale's colleges resemble their English precursors organizationally and architecturally, they are dependent entities of Yale College and have limited autonomy. The colleges are led by a head and an academic dean, who reside in the college, and university faculty and affiliates comprise each college's fellowship. Colleges offer their own seminars, social events, and speaking engagements known as "Master's Teas," but do not contain programs of study or academic departments. Instead, all undergraduate courses are taught by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and are open to members of any college.

All undergraduates are members of a college, to which they are assigned before their freshman year, and 85 percent live in the college quadrangle or a college-affiliated dormitory. While the majority of upperclassman live in the colleges, most on-campus freshmen live on the Old Campus, the university's oldest precinct.

While Harkness' original colleges were Georgian Revival or Collegiate Gothic in style, two colleges constructed in the 1960s, Morse and Ezra Stiles Colleges, have modernist designs. All twelve college quadrangles are organized around a courtyard, and each has a dining hall, courtyard, library, common room, and a range of student facilities. The twelve colleges are named for important alumni or significant places in university history. In 2017, the university expects to open two new colleges near Science Hill.

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Calhoun College courtyard

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Berkeley College buildings

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Branford College courtyard

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Davenport College courtyard

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Trumbull College courtyard

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Pierson College courtyard

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Timothy Dwight College's ginkgo tree

Calhoun College

Since the 1960s, John C. Calhoun's white supremacist beliefs and pro-slavery leadership had prompted calls to rename the college or remove its tributes to Calhoun. The racially-motivated church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, led to renewed calls in the summer of 2015 for Calhoun College, one of 12 residential colleges, to be renamed. In July 2015 students signed a petition calling for the name change. They argued in the petition that—while Calhoun was respected in the 19th century as an "extraordinary American statesman"—he was "one of the most prolific defenders of slavery and white supremacy" in the history of the United States. In August 2015 Yale President Peter Salovey addressed the Freshman Class of 2019 in which he responded to the racial tensions but explained why the college would not be renamed. He described Calhoun as "a notable political theorist, a vice president to two different U.S. presidents, a secretary of war and of state, and a congressman and senator representing South Carolina". He acknowledged that Calhoun also "believed that the highest forms of civilization depend on involuntary servitude. Not only that, but he also believed that the races he thought to be inferior, black people in particular, ought to be subjected to it for the sake of their own best interests." Student activism about this issue increased in the fall of 2015, and included further protests sparked by controversy surrounding administrators' advice encouraging culturally-sensitive Halloween costumes. Campus-wide discussions expanded to include critical discussion of the experiences of women of color on campus, and the realities of racism in undergraduate life. The protests were sensationalized by the media and led to the labelling of some students as being members of Generation Snowflake.

In April 2016 Salovey announced that "despite decades of vigorous alumni and student protests," Calhoun's name will remain on the Yale residential college explaining that it is preferable for Yale students to live in Calhoun's "shadow" so they will be "better prepared to rise to the challenges of the present and the future". He claimed that if they removed Calhoun's name, it would "obscure" his "legacy of slavery rather than addressing it". "Yale is part of that history" and "We cannot erase American history, but we can confront it, teach it and learn from it." One change that will be issued is the title of "master" for faculty members who serve as residential college leaders will be renamed to "head of college" due to its connotation of slavery.

However, in February 2017, Salovey announced that Calhoun College would be renamed for Grace Murray Hopper.

Student organizations

In 2014, Yale had 385 registered student organizations, plus an additional one hundred groups in the process of registration.

The university hosts a variety of student journals, magazines, and newspapers. Established in 1872, The Yale Record is the world's oldest humor magazine. Newspapers include the Yale Daily News, which was first published in 1878, and the weekly Yale Herald, which was first published in 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. WYBC Yale Radio is the campus's radio station, owned and operated by students. While students used to broadcast on AM & FM frequencies, they now have an Internet-only stream.

The Yale College Council (YCC) serves as the campus's undergraduate student government. All registered student organizations are regulated and funded by a subsidiary organization of the YCC, known as the Undergraduate Organizations Committee (UOC). The Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS) serves as Yale's graduate and professional student government.

The Yale Political Union is advised by alumni political leaders such as John Kerry and George Pataki. The Yale International Relations Association functions as the umbrella organization for the top-ranked Model UN team.

The campus 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 Bones, Scroll and Key, Wolf's Head, Book and Snake, Elihu, Berzelius, St. Elmo, Manuscript, Shabtai, Mace and Chain and Sage and Chalice. The two oldest existing honor societies are the Aurelian (1910) and the Torch Honor Society (1916).

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.

Traditions

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Yale's motto translated from Latin, means light & truth.
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Yale, exterior engraving. Photo taken in winter 2016.

Yale seniors at graduation smash clay pipes underfoot to symbolize passage from their "bright college years," though in recent history the pipes have been replaced with "bubble pipes". ("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. In the second half of the 20th century Bladderball, a campus-wide game played with a large inflatable ball, became a popular tradition but was banned by administration due to safety concerns. In spite of administration opposition, students revived the game in 2009, 2011, and 2014, but its future remains uncertain.

Athletics

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The Walter Camp Gate at the Yale Athletic Complex.

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 Bowl (the nation's first natural "bowl" stadium, and prototype for such stadiums as the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the Rose Bowl), located at The Walter Camp Field athletic complex, and the Payne Whitney Gymnasium, the second-largest indoor athletic complex in the world.

In 2016, the men's basketball team won the Ivy League Championship title for the first time in 54 years, earning a spot in the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. In the first round of the tournament, the Bulldogs beat the Baylor Bears 79-75 in the school's first-ever tournament win.

October 21, 2000, marked the dedication of Yale's fourth new boathouse in 157 years of collegiate rowing. The 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 Ferry site where the heavyweight men's team trains for the 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 Club, 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.

Yale athletics are supported by the Yale Precision Marching Band. "Precision" is used here ironically; the band is a scatter-style band that runs wildly between formations rather than actually marching. 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.

Song

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.

Mascot

The school mascot is "Handsome Dan," the 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, since 1894, is Yale Blue. Yale's Handsome Dan is believed to be the first college mascot in America, having been established in 1889.

Notable people

Benefactors

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 Beinecke family (Edwin, Frederick, and Walter); John William Sterling; Payne Whitney; Joseph Earl 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. Charles B. Johnson, a 1954 graduate of Yale College, pledged a $250 million gift in 2013 to support the construction of two new residential colleges. The colleges have been named respectively in honor of Pauli Murray and Benjamin Franklin. A $100 million contribution by Stephen Adams enabled the Yale School of Music to become tuition-free and the Adams Center for Musical Arts to be built.

Notable alumni and faculty

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Academy Award Winning Actress Meryl Streep, Yale School of Drama class of 1975
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President and Chief Justice William Howard Taft graduated from Yale in 1878.

Yale has produced alumni distinguished in their respective fields. This includes U.S. Presidents William Howard Taft, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush; heads of state, including Italian prime minister Mario Monti, Turkish prime minister Tansu Çiller, Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo, German president Karl Carstens, and Philippines president José Paciano Laurel; U.S. Supreme Court Justices Taft, Sonia Sotomayor, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas; U.S. Secretaries of State John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Cyrus Vance, and Dean Acheson; U.S. Secretaries of the Treasury Oliver Wolcott, Robert Rubin, Nicholas F. Brady, and Steven Mnuchin; and United States Attorneys General Nicholas Katzenbach, John Ashcroft, and Edward H. Levi. Confederate States Secretary of State, Secretary of War, and Attorney General; Judah P. Benjamin.

Many royals have attended, among them: Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, Prince Rostislav Romanov and Prince Akiiki Hosea Nyabongo;

In the arts, Yale alumni include authors Sinclair Lewis, Stephen Vincent Benét, John Hersey, Thornton Wilder, Doug Wright, William Matthews, and Tom Wolfe; actors, directors and producers Paul Newman, Henry Winkler, Vincent Price, Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver, Jodie Foster, Angela Bassett, Elia Kazan, George Roy Hill, Douglas Wick, Edward Norton, Lupita Nyong'o, James Whitmore, Oliver Stone, Brian Dennehy, and Sam Waterston; composers Charles Ives, Douglas Moore and Cole Porter; fine art photography popularizer Sam Wagstaff; sculptor Richard Serra; and entertainer Rudy Vallee.

In business, Time Magazine co-founder Henry Luce, Morgan Stanley founder Harold Stanley, Blackstone Group founder Stephen A. Schwarzman, Boeing and United Airlines founder William Boeing, FedEx founder Frederick W. Smith, chairman and CEO of Sears Holdings Edward Lampert, Time Warner president Jeffrey Bewkes, Electronic Arts co-founder Bing Gordon, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, Pinterest co-founder and CEO Ben Silbermann, sports agent Donald Dell, and investor/philanthropist Sir John Templeton all hail from Yale.

In academia, distinguished Yale graduates and faculty have included literary critic and historian Henry Louis Gates, economists Irving Fischer, Mahbub ul Haq, and Paul Krugman; Nobel laureates in Physics, Ernest Lawrence and Murray Gell-Mann; Fields Medalist John G. Thompson; Human Genome Project director Francis S. Collins; "father of biochemistry" Russell Henry Chittenden; neurosurgeon Harvey Cushing; pioneering computer scientist Grace Hopper; chairman of Cal Tech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory Committee Clark Blanchard Millikan; education philosopher Robert Maynard Hutchins; pioneer in fractal geometry Benoit Mandelbrot; and mathematician/chemist Josiah Willard Gibbs.

Former Yale students in the sporting arena include "The perfect oarsman" Rusty Wailes; runner Frank Shorter; baseball executives Theo Epstein and George Weiss, and baseball players Ron Darling, Bill Hutchinson, and Craig Breslow; basketball player Chris Dudley; football players Dick Jauron, Kenny Hill, Calvin Hill, Gary Fencik, Chuck Mercein, Amos Alonzo Stagg, and "Father of American Football" Walter Camp; nine-time U.S. Squash men's champion Julian Illingworth; ice hockey player Chris Higgins; figure skater Sarah Hughes; and swimmer Don Schollander.

Yale also counts among its former students Secretary of State, Secretary of War and U.S. Senator John C. Calhoun; Peace Corps founder Sargent Shriver; child psychologist Benjamin Spock; architects Maya Lin, Eero Saarinen and Norman Foster; television personalities Stone Phillips, Dick Cavett and Anderson Cooper; pundits Garry Trudeau, William F. Buckley, Jr. and Fareed Zakaria; pioneer in electrical applications Austin Cornelius Dunham; inventors Samuel F.B. Morse and Eli Whitney; patriot and "first spy" Nathan Hale; lexicographer Noah Webster; and theologians Jonathan Edwards and Reinhold Niebuhr.

Yale in fiction and popular culture

Yale University, one of the oldest universities in the United States, is a cultural referent as an institution that produces some of the most elite members of society and its grounds, alumni, and students have been prominently portrayed in fiction and U.S. popular culture. For example, Owen Johnson's novel, Stover at Yale, follows the college career of Dink Stover and Frank Merriwell, the model for all later juvenile sports fiction, plays football, baseball, crew, and track at Yale while solving mysteries and righting wrongs. Yale University also is featured in F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel "The Great Gatsby". The narrator, Nick Carraway, wrote a series of editorials for the Yale News, and Tom Buchanan was "one of the most powerful ends that ever played football" for Yale.

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