September 1, 2021

Dear students,

I am so pleased to welcome you to campus and to start a new year with you. The faculty and staff have been looking forward to this first day of classes for a long time, just as I have been, and these past few days many of you have told me about your own excitement about being here. I was pleased to see so many upper-level students helping first-years move in, and I thank you all for saying hello and taking pictures with President Salovey and me around campus.

At Saturday's first-year assembly, held this year on Cross Campus, President Salovey and I more formally said hello and welcome to the largest entering class in Yale's history -- 1815 students strong, including first-years, students admitted through the transfer program and the Eli Whitney program for nontraditional students, and students who took a year off. More than half of this year's incoming students received a need-based Yale scholarship, and a record-high 131 students joined Yale through QuestBridge, a national non-profit organization that connects high-achieving, low-income students with selective colleges. And a majority for the third year in a row -- 51% -- are U.S. citizens or permanent residents who identify as a member of a minority racial or ethnic group, with more than 44% from homes whose first language is other than English.

Whether you are a returning student or one arriving for the first time, you have plenty to explore now that so many spaces on campus have been newly created or renovated. The Schwarzman center, a new student hub with fantastic programming and dining that includes the reopening of Commons, opens its doors this semester, and you will soon also find beautiful learning spaces in the new Humanities Quadrangle and on Science Hill. TSAI Center for Innovative Thinking, Sachem's Wood, and Alexander Walk are other new spaces waiting for you to discover. And if you are unsure how to find your way around, ask for directions; your classmates, instructors, and the staff are happy to help you.

Also awaiting your discovery are your classrooms and the return to in-person learning. I hope you can make good use of the add/drop period as you design and finalize your course schedule for the semester. As you explore, remember that guidance is available to you from instructors, deans, and DUSs. So are practical tools, through Yale Course Search, which makes finding and registering for courses easier; lecture capture on Canvas, to help you review recordings of classes that offer it; and the Credit/D/Fail option to encourage experimentation, with deadlines that fall on the last day of classes.

Finally, I want to recognize that we are starting a year not just with excitement but of course with an eye toward carefulness as well. We are returning to in-person curricular and extracurricular life after months of preparation -- through vaccination requirements, regular testing, and good habits and practices that we learned from last year. Public health is very much on the community's mind, and in the weeks and months ahead you will receive guidance on how to play your part while you at the same time make yourselves at home on campus. Getting ready has been a communal effort that has included faculty, staff, and students, and to everyone who has been part of it, including you, I say thank you.

With best wishes for the semester ahead,

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