January 29, 2021  

Dear students, 

In a few days, you will be starting classes, some of you far from campus, some from here in New Haven, but all of you connected to each other as classmates. The year’s extraordinary disruptions have changed your daily lives, and yet thanks to equally extraordinary efforts, many of them yours, you have been able to pursue the studies and the fellowship that brought you to Yale. We are only halfway through the academic year, with plenty of questions and challenges ahead. Before we start the semester, I am looking back at the one we just finished and recognizing how all of you, wherever you were, carried your Yale spirit with you, showing creativity, perseverance, imagination, and -- if you will allow me a nod to Handsome Dan -- sheer doggedness. Well done, Bulldogs. 

Two class years in particular I want to call out for special note. Sophomores: you spent last semester enrolled remotely, just as you were looking forward to being on campus and living with the friends you made in your first year. First-years: you are enrolled remotely this semester, just after getting your first glimpse of Yale. I know how much all of you, sophomores and first-years alike, wanted to be on campus both semesters. Your flexibility and understanding have made it possible to reduce density on campus so that Yale College could offer these two residential semesters in the middle of a global pandemic. I am grateful to you all. With classes and activities now designed for remote engagement, for all students, I hope that you found, or will find, continuity with your life on campus.  

We are starting this semester with two big questions not yet answered, about next year's housing and this year's Commencement, and I am aware that you want to start planning as soon as possible. Housing of course depends on the still-fluid public health situation and also needs to address increased demand with many students wishing to return to campus. Once more is known, I will announce the housing policy for next year. Seniors: I know that you are just as eager for information about Commencement so that you and your families can make plans and celebrate your accomplishment in graduating. I will be working closely with the offices of the secretary and the president, and with the senior class council, in providing you timely information about Class Day and Commencement. 

New information about the summer is available now, and more will soon be coming: Yale Summer Session has posted its dates and deadlines, its catalog will open February 5, and its application will be available on February 15. Remember also that first-year students and sophomores who enroll for both the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters, with at least one term taken remotely, will earn two courses to be used in Yale Summer Session (YSS) New Haven, Online, or Abroad in any summer before their senior year. Those students may also be eligible for additional financial support to subsidize on-campus room and board for one five-week Session provided they meet certain requirements. More information is available on YSS’s site. Information about travel and internships will be available in the days ahead, but I am pleased now to announce that all Yale College students may participate this summer in in-person research on campus, regardless of class year or whether you have been enrolled or on leave, as long as you observe the community compact and register any additional safety training required by your research activities. 

The semester we are about to start is different from most spring semesters in so many ways, chief among them that it runs continuously, without a spring break. Instead, five break days, interspersed throughout the semester, will offer you a chance for rest and renewal. I urge you to use those breaks for their intended purpose, and I have joined with Dean Gendler and Dean Cooley in asking the faculty not to schedule assignments or assessments on those days or on the days immediately after each one of them.  

I also urge you to be attentive to the challenges particular to you, depending on your enrollment status -- remote or in residence. If you are enrolled remotely, stay active in your on-campus communities, particularly the residential colleges, the cultural centers, and your classes, along with your student activities. All of them have reoriented themselves for remote access and are here for you. If you are enrolled in residence, whether you are living on campus or off, you will need to meet public health requirements, among them quarantining, adhering to a regular testing schedule, and complying with the community compact, all while being alert to new directives if necessary. Please pay close attention to the messages you will be receiving throughout the term. And whether you are enrolled remotely or in person, this is also a good time to make sure you have the IT services and support available to you

Some of you I saw yesterday and this morning (from an appropriate distance) as you moved into your campus quarters. Some of you I have heard from as you have gotten settled away from campus if you are enrolled remotely this semester. I am thinking of you all today as we get ready for the first day of classes. But I am also thinking of all the people who through extraordinary efforts of their own have made last semester and this one possible: your parents and guardians, the faculty, the public health team, and staff from the residential colleges, the cultural centers, Yale Hospitality, Conferences and Events, Facilities, and Public Safety, among others. As you start the semester, remember that they are here for you, just as you are here for each other, as we connect from around the world. I am excited to begin the semester with you all, and I send you my best wishes for the months ahead. 


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