Yale Opens Two New Residential Colleges
It’s beautiful. It’s an extraordinary place. It already feels like home to me. I’m Charles Bailyn, the head of Benjamin Franklin College. My name is Tina Lu and I have the honor of being the inaugural head of Pauli Murray College. I think, actually, the combination of Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray are a really interesting addition to the Yale College system. I hope actually everyone has a chance to walk up Prospect Street between Trumbull and Sachem and see Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray Colleges, because they are traditional in the sense that they are Gothic in style. They contain courtyards, they have many interesting icons and statuary and carvings and sayings just like all the other residential colleges, but they’re brand new and they will have their own new traditions. We have one of the best residential college systems in the world and we receive many more applicants than we can admit to this special place. So the new residential colleges will allow us to accept many more qualified students. We need more and more leaders, not only in America but across the globe. And so every student that we can bring here is important. We hope every student who graduates from Yale is going to serve society in some important way. So having more students here we hope is good for America and good for the world. Pauli Murray is a role model to me for the now. Her legacy of bravery, of risk-taking, of being a young woman in the South, accepting no limitations on what her life could be. I think, in that sense, I can’t imagine a better model for Yale students. I love our big courtyard where my children are already spending the evenings playing there. I cannot wait to have my 400 children all hanging out in that courtyard and enjoying that grassy field. The residence where my family and I live has a second-story balcony that looks over the main courtyard. I think I’m going to be hanging around on that balcony quite a lot in the years to come. Benjamin Franklin got an honorary degree from Yale. He was originally a printer. He was also, of course, famously America’s first great scientist even before the word scientist had been invented. He contributed to some of the greatest changes in politics and in public life that’s ever been done anywhere in the world. And this is the man we’re named after here, and I think that’s a good role model in three quite different ways. We are getting more than 30,000 applicants to Yale College every year. We have an obligation to offer the opportunities that a Yale undergraduate education offers to a greater number of talented, deserving, hardworking, truly interesting students from around the world. Diversity is absolutely essential to the success of the residential college system and to the education at Yale itself. We are trying to prepare our students for leadership, for making outstanding contributions to society. And because the world is diverse, it’s very important for Yale to be diverse to reflect that diversity. If a university is a place where we enshrine disagreement, we let people disagree, we celebrate that, a residential college is a place where we turn that into conversation. I came to Yale as a science major, and inside the residential college I mixed not only with the science majors, not only with the other singing group people, but with athletes, with people who were involved in journalism, who were involved in politics. So there’s a kind of diversity of interests that cuts across the diversity as we usually think of it in ethnic, and racial, and gender terms. And I think both kinds of diversity are crucial to the Yale experience and they all come together inside the residential colleges. A lot of preparations have gone into making sure there are enough classrooms for the additional students, and, of course, facilities throughout campus are all getting ready and are prepared for the increase in enrollment. I think when you commit to residential colleges, what you’re committing to is a model where students are not just learning in classrooms. Students are learning from one another and they’re learning from one another in very basic ways. I keep getting messages from the students who are extremely excited about the very rare opportunity here at Yale to start something new. Those 200 students that will be added to the class increase diversity of the class and absolutely fit in with the rest of the class in terms of the amazing accomplishments that they have had in their lives. We’re very excited to be able, in just a short time from now, to greet them and welcome them to Yale.