Thoughts on this first day of classes
August 30, 2017
I had planned on this first day of classes to write with a warm word of welcome and to preview some of the important, even historic changes happening on campus this year. But even as we have just enjoyed one of the most pleasant move-in weekends in New Haven I can remember, my thoughts are with the families – many of them yours – in Texas and Louisiana who have just been hit by Hurricane Harvey, or are bracing for it as it appears to be making landfall again as I write.
I still do offer a warm welcome to all of you, and I am so happy to have been able to say hello to many of you in person over the past few days as you have moved into your new quarters, or at some of the formal events for new students such as the opening assembly reception and the academic fair. I was also so glad to shake hands with the relatives and friends who accompanied many of you. But now, as I welcome you to campus I also want to stress especially the value of our community, whether you are joining it for the first time or returning after your summer break. What you know already or soon will is that Yale students turn to and support each other, and they also have the support of the heads and deans of their colleges, their instructors, their coaches, their chaplains, and their supervisors. I hope that you will turn to any of them if you need support, and that you will offer it to anyone who asks for it – a point I emphasized in my address to incoming students on the importance of both seeking and offering mentorship.
I also still want you to be aware of the important changes and events on campus, among them the addition of two new majors, one in statistics and data science, and another in neuroscience. I am also thinking of the dedications in October of Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray Colleges, and of Grace Hopper College’s dedication, which is next week. Other buildings or facilities, newly renovated or expanded, have opened or will be opening as well, even as Commons has closed as it begins its three-year transformation into the Schwarzman Center. With our campus changed and expanded, and its geographical center of gravity now shifted northward, I do plan to spend time exploring it, especially now that I have moved into the dean’s residence on Science Hill. I hope you will will explore our campus, too, but even more so I hope you will spend these opening days renewing or establishing your connections to its community, which more than anything is what makes this place Yale.