November 19, 2021  

To the Yale College community, 

This Thanksgiving season, I have so much to give thanks for. In my role as the dean of Yale College, I have seen an outpouring of support for students from alumni, parents, guardians, and friends. Their gifts, together with the leadership of the late chief of Yale Investments David Swensen and his team, have made a Yale education more accessible, created new opportunities for students, and transformed our campus. I am very grateful. 

Consider last month’s announcement about the broadest enhancement to financial aid in at least a decade. Because of the generosity of donors and the management of the endowment, Yale College was able to reduce the student share, eliminating the expectation that any student on aid contribute toward tuition, housing, or meals, a major development for financial support that students have long sought. 

I am grateful for the many other initiatives, also made possible by gifts, that have benefited students, including summer experience awards, Yale Safety Net, an expansion of the First-Year Scholars at Yale program, a doubling of the size of the Science, Technology, and Research Scholars program over the next two years, and increased research fellowships beyond financial aid for all students. 

Then there are the fabulous physical spaces that students enjoy, many of them newly created. The Schwarzman Center, the Humanities Quadrangle, the Poorvu Center, the new science building, the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale -- all of these have been made possible by gifts. Tuition, room, and board cover a fraction of the cost of building and staffing these spaces, the residential colleges, dining halls, labs, galleries, and libraries. The endowment covers the rest. 

In Yale College, new gifts and previous gifts invested in the endowment make up about two thirds of the budget, supporting the residential colleges, cultural centers, first-year counselors, peer liaisons and mentors, the Center for International and Professional Experience, the creation of the Yale College Community Care program pilot, and academic programs like residential college seminars, first year seminars, and certificate programs such as education studies and global health studies. 

Finally, I am grateful for the expert leadership and management that during a global pandemic has protected Yale’s education mission, cared for staff and faculty, and made it possible for students to pursue a Yale education. Thanks to the infrastructure funded by the president and provost and led by Yale’s health experts and a broad group that includes Yale College heads, deans, and directors, more students have been able to be on campus compared to many peer schools, especially students whose home environments do not support remote learning. And I owe a debt of gratitude to Yale Facilities, Yale Hospitality, Yale Police and Security, Information Technology Services, and countless other offices for the comfort and safety of everyone in our community. 

Tomorrow I will be in the stands at the Yale Bowl, together with alumni, parents, guardians, friends, faculty, staff, and students who will be there for the Game. I am looking forward to seeing everyone, saying thank you in person, and cheering for our team. Go, Bulldogs! 

Marvin M. Chun 
Dean of Yale College 
Richard M. Colgate Professor of Psychology; Neuroscience; Cognitive Science