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Light & Verity

Should Yale College Get Bigger?

With applications to Yale College reaching record highs and the admission rate at record lows, university officials are now quietly studying the possibility of expanding the undergraduate body by as much as 15 percent—and building two new residential colleges to accommodate the expansion.

“The quality of our applicant pool has soared,” says President Richard Levin. “The competition for slots has become so intense that we feel that if we could give more people access to a Yale education we can make a stronger contribution to America and the world.”

Levin told the Yale Alumni Magazine in late November that he was preparing to appoint committees that would look at the expansion question during this semester, considering such issues as the impact on student life and the need for new faculty and support resources. His preliminary estimate is that the size of a Yale College class, currently about 1,300, might rise to about 1,500.

Undergraduate applications have increased by more than 60 percent in the last decade, in part because of growing interest in elite schools and in part because of a rise in the number of high school graduates. Many universities are under pressure to increase enrollment as a result, says Stephen L. DesJardins, a higher-education professor at the University of Michigan. Among Yale’s peers, Princeton is currently implementing a plan to increase its undergraduate body by 11 percent.

To house the new students, the university is considering the construction of two new colleges along Prospect Street between the Grove Street Cemetery and Ingalls Rink, a site that houses several buildings whose functions are slated to move elsewhere: the political science department’s Brewster Hall and 8 Prospect Place; the School of Art's Hammond Hall; the School of Management’s Donaldson Commons; and the social sciences library. The site is close to Science Hill but farther from traditional campus centers than the existing colleges.

“We’ve had an intensive study of potential sites, and for many reasons, I think it’s pretty clear that this is by far the best site if we’re adding a pair of colleges,” says Levin. “And it’s much more efficient to add two than to add one at a time in different places.”

Regardless of where the colleges are located, some on campus feel that any new construction ought to be used first to relieve overcrowding in the existing colleges. A number of students who want on-campus housing are now forced to accept annex space outside their colleges. “Crude estimates suggest that it might require something like half to three-quarters of the space in one of the new colleges to allow all juniors and seniors who wish to live in their colleges to do so,” says Jonathan Edwards College master Gary Haller. “The committees that review the need and use of the new colleges should confirm this need and recommend the use of the new colleges that will allow the most students to live on campus.”

Levin says that the matter will be studied and that some of the new space will be used to reduce annexing. That is just one of the issues about which the committees will consult Yale students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the New Haven community. Levin adds, “I will want to go to the Corporation with a recommendation at a time when I feel the community is behind the decision.”


Not carved in stone—yet

Of all the choice sites where a substantial Yale donor might like to see his or her name, is any better than the main entrance to a residential college? Put your name on a laboratory building, and students will say it with a groan. But put your name on a college, and they’ll scream it with passion at football games.

If Yale does in fact build two new colleges (see story above), such a chance for immortality could arise. But the existing colleges are named not for donors but for people and places from Yale’s 300-year history. Trading a monetary gift for a college name—as Princeton did when it accepted $30 million from eBay CEO Meg Whitman for the construction of Whitman College—would be a break with Yale tradition. But would (or could, or should) the university turn down, say, a nine-figure donation because it had that particular string attached? President Levin says the issue is still under discussion.

On the other hand, if a donor today decided to follow the generous example of Edward Harkness and Paul Mellon—who conferred colleges, but not their names—Yale would have an opportunity to highlight some distinguished moment of its past. A few possibilities:

Noah Webster College
It’s surprising the campus has done so little to commemorate its most ubiquitous man of letters. Without Webster's Americanized English, we'd still be sending people to gaol; surely he’s worthy of the honour.

Edward Bouchet College
As a corrective to the ten colleges named for white men (eight of them slaveholders), why not name one for the first African American to earn a BA at Yale? Bouchet was also the first African American to earn a PhD anywhere.

William Howard Taft College
We hesitate to bring up any of the four recent U.S. presidents to graduate from Yale, but history has had time to judge Taft. He was the only person to be both president of the United States and chief justice of the Supreme Court, and he taught at Yale Law School between those two gigs.

Grace Hopper College
Hopper, who earned her doctorate in math and physics from Yale in 1934, was a rear admiral in the Navy and a computer pioneer. She famously traced a problem in an early Navy computer to a trapped moth, which she mounted in a log book with the notation “first actual case of a bug being found.” So the college intramural nickname (go Bugs!) is ready-made.

Cole Porter College
Is there another Yale graduate who contributed more joy and fun to the world than the composer of “Night and Day,” “Let’s Do It,” and (of course) “Bulldog?” It would surely be Yale’s most delightful, delicious, and de-lovely college.

Brewster and Coffin College
A twofer, like Cambridge’s Gonville and Caius College. A name honoring William Sloane Coffin '49 and Kingman Brewster '41 would celebrate the sea change in Yale’s character over which the two controversial men presided. As a side benefit, it would keep this magazine's Letters editor supplied for years to come.

We'd like to hear your ideas. Send your suggestions to yam@yale.edu. We’ll publish a sampling of interesting ideas in our March/April issue.


Toad’s won’t be hopping this summer

Summertime theme at Toad’s Place: the party’s over. After a year of negotiations with the Connecticut Liquor Control Division over a raid last year, the venerable nightclub has settled its tab. The damage: not just a $90,000 fine, but also 90 consecutive days of no dancing, no live bands, no Toad’s at all. The bar is barred from opening its doors from May 6 through August 3.

The raid, by no means a first at Toad's, took place on November 5, 2005, when liquor control agents hit the dance floor alongside dozens of underage drinkers. Many of the illicit imbibers scurried for cover the minute the house lights went up. Others hid behind their fake IDs and crumbled under interrogation. They were advised to sign waivers saying they'd entered the club illegally, then were sent home without being charged. The club itself wasn’t so lucky.

After the raid, Toad’s owner Brian Phelps initially complained to local newspapers that the club had done more than was legally required to keep out young drinkers. Fake IDs, he told reporters, are now of such high quality that they elude the most technologically sophisticated security checks. Phelps changed his tune when he saw videotape of the night of the raid, which showed an unsavory events promoter waving hordes of dancers through the door without any ID checks, technological or otherwise.

Phelps is painfully aware that Toad's will be dark during Senior Week at Yale College, when graduating seniors go wild for the last time before commencement, and local bars go into the black. But it’s lovers of live music who will suffer the most. Toad’s calls itself the club “where the legends play” (and yes, the Stones did once perform there). Last May alone, Toad’s brought in such collegiate faves as the “screamo" ensemble Everytime I Die; former Phish member Mike Gordon’s jam band, Ramble Dove; coarse comedians Michael Showalter and John Valby; and historic acts like the Sun Ra Arkestra, Leon Russell, and Lee “Scratch” Perry.

Given the new liquor stringency in Connecticut, when Toad’s reopens it might just become known as the club “where the sophomores don’t drink.” It’ll be in good company: Mory’s, Naples Pizza, and some local package stores were also forced to clean up their acts after being fined and temporarily closed for serving minors. If the increased scrutiny clears the dance floor, Toad’s may be worrying about empty houses that aren’t court-ordered.


Out of the lab, into the doctor's office

To help speed the progress of medical research from basic science to new therapies, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will give Yale $57.3 million—one of the largest research grants it has ever conferred—over the next five years. Yale is one of 12 schools chosen to be the first to put into practice what NIH calls “the first systematic change in our approach to clinical research in the last 50 years.”

The idea behind this new approach, which NIH calls the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA), is to provide centralized support for clinical researchers—support similar to that now enjoyed by researchers doing basic science. Until now, whenever clinical investigators launched a new study, they had to hire their own research nurses, biostatisticians, regulatory experts, and lab service providers. “Researchers won’t have to build their own clinical research network any longer,” says medical school dean Robert Alpern. “We’ll have the people for you now. This will help good research move more efficiently.”

The grant to Yale includes $25.8 million that will go to existing programs in clinical research and education. The remaining $31.5 million will go to expand the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation. This center, part of a wider plan to beef up clinical research at Yale, provides support for patient research, community health outreach, and clinical research education throughout the medical school. One of its major educational programs, for instance, offers doctoral degrees to physicians embarking on careers in clinical research.

Another program to be funded by the NIH grant will support work by the nursing and public health schools in the New Haven community on local health issues, an engagement that public health dean Paul Cleary says is too rare in universities. “To put it crudely,” says Cleary, “if we’re so smart, why aren’t we helping people more?”


Elected Elis

Sure, the House and Senate changed hands, but we know what you really want to find out : how did Yale alumni fare in the midterm elections? In the Senate, two alumni incumbents retired, three incumbents were re-elected, and three newcomers were elected. In the only Yalie vs. Yalie race, Joe Lieberman ’64, ’67LLB, running as an independent candidate, defeated Ned Lamont ’80MBA, who had beaten him in the Democratic primary three months before.

In the House, all Yale incumbents stood for and won re-election except for Sherrod Brown ’74 D-Ohio, who ran successfully for the Senate instead. Democrat John Yarmuth '69 upset an incumbent in Kentucky to keep the number of Yale House members at ten. David Sanders '83, a Democrat from Indiana, and Al Weed '68, a Democrat from Virginia, tried unsuccessfully to unseat incumbents in their house districts.

All told, there are 15 Democrats and 3 Republicans in the 110th Congress’s Yale caucus, including four newcomers who can’t wait for their next class reunions.

US Senate
Sherrod Brown ’74, D-OH *
Hillary Rodham Clinton ’73JD, D-NY
John Kerry ’66, D-MA
Amy Klobuchar '82, D-MN *
Joe Lieberman '64, '67LLB, D-CT
C. William Nelson '65, D-FL
Arlen Specter '56LLB, R-PA
Sheldon Whitehouse '78, D-RI *

US House
Lois Capps '64MAR, D-CA
Tom Cole '74MA, R-OK
Sheila Jackson-Lee '72, D-TX
Eleanor Holmes Norton '63MA, '64LLB, D-DC
David Price '64BD, '69PhD, D-NC
Lamar Smith '69, R-TX
John Spratt '69LLB, D-SC
Melvin Watt '70JD, D-NC
David Wu '82JD, D-OR
John Yarmuth '69, D-KY *

* newly elected


Hospital-union pact breaks down

The nine-month-old peace agreement between labor organizers and Yale–New Haven Hospital (YNHH) fell apart spectacularly in December just before a vote on unionization, when an independent arbitrator ruled that non-union hospital managers had violated the agreement by spreading misinformation at mandatory meetings for workers. Workers and union leaders erupted in anger over the hospital’s tactics, and the chorus of condemnation quickly expanded to include community leaders, New Haven mayor John DeStefano Jr., and even Yale president Richard Levin. In the wake of the revelations, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) approved the union's request to postpone the election, which had been scheduled for December 20 and 21.

The agreement had been made last March, when the hospital was seeking the city’s permission to build a $430 million cancer center (which is now under construction). City officials delayed approval of the project until the hospital came to terms with District 1199 of the Service Employees International Union over a union election process. The two sides consented to a secret-ballot election under the auspices of the NLRB and to a code of conduct that prohibited each side from disparaging the other. The code specifically prohibited managers from calling mandatory meetings to discuss unionization with workers. A jointly selected arbitrator would settle disputes over violations of the code.

In the two weeks before the planned vote for the hospital’s 1,800 service workers, the union filed more than 200 complaints with arbitrator Margaret Kern. In her ruling on December 13, Kern focused on a November 29 incident in which a manager called a mandatory meeting to discuss work-related business, then, after saying that workers were free to leave, proceeded to talk about the union. Workers at the meetings said they felt obliged to stay. The manager went on to make false statements about union dues and about the possible loss of benefits and even their jobs if the union were to be approved. Kern found that more than 200 managers had been given permission by the hospital to conduct such meetings, which are in violation of federal labor law.

Hospital officials say they have also filed complaints with Kern over some union tactics, including instances of union organizers telling workers, falsely, that they must explain any “no” vote in writing on their ballot. Kern has not made a ruling on these complaints.

Union officials and their supporters now say they doubt that a secret-ballot election could be conducted fairly. “We would like to see the employees decide [about unionization] based upon on a card check,” says Karen DuBois-Walton '89, DeStefano’s chief of staff, referring to a process by which a majority of employee signatures would result in a union. She declared that the chances of a fair election had been tainted by the hospital’s behavior. YNHH spokesman Vin Petrini said the hospital still favors a secret-ballot election, stating that the contested meetings took place over a short time span and were stopped in the face of the union’s mounting complaints.

The day after the arbitrator's ruling, Yale president Richard Levin, who serves on the hospital’s board of trustees, surprised many observers by issuing a statement critical of the hospital. (The hospital and the university are separate entities, but Yale doctors practice there.) “I am dismayed by the recent actions of the hospital,” he said. “I urge the hospital and the union to sit down and find a resolution that would restore a climate in which a fair, secret-ballot election can be held.”

Union officials praised Levin's statement, as did DuBois-Walton, who says she hopes he will put his influence to use. “The way the university has approached its labor relations in recent years and the way that it’s dealt with its community relationships is light-years ahead of where the hospital is,” she says, adding that although Yale and the hospital are separate, they are closely aligned in the minds of city residents. “I don’t see any immediate repercussions for the university, but I do see the university as in a position with great leverage to make some changes.”









When is a hall not a hall?

Yale’s premier do-gooding group will have a new home in 2010. In November, the board of directors of the Dwight Hall community service organization voted to move the nonprofit from its building on the Old Campus to larger quarters at 143 Elm Street, a historic house currently used by the music department. Campus sentiment is split. Some fear the move away from freshman housing on the Old Campus will hurt efforts to recruit first-years; others argue that a home on the Green will be more welcoming to the New Haven community than one behind Yale’s gates. Regardless, the university’s proposal to pay $5.7 million of the $9.5 million cost of renovating 143 Elm was an offer Dwight Hall could not refuse.

Purists, take heart: the building now called Dwight Hall wasn’t always known that way. It takes its name from an older edifice on Old Campus, originally a YMCA. When the older building was demolished, students took the name with them to bestow on their new quarters.








Campus Clips

A $60 million contribution from Edward Bass '68 and a $50 million gift from Maurice Green-berg and the Starr Foundation are two of the fruits of the “quiet phase” of Yale’s capital campaign. Bass is a Yale trustee and a co-chair of the campaign; his gift will fund new facilities on Science Hill. The Greenberg-Starr gift will support student exchange with China, the World Fellows Program, and an international conference center.

A former administrative associate at the School of Medicine has filed a suit against Yale alleging that she was sexually harassed for three years by the chair of the pharmacology department. The suit by Mary Beth Garceau claims that her boss, Joseph Schlessinger, made lewd comments to her and showed her pornography. When she complained to Yale, the suit says, no action was taken. Yale spokesman Tom Conroy says the university does not believe there has been a violation of the law and that it will defend itself against the suit.

Really tiny things are the focus of the newly established Yale Institute for Nanoscience and Quantum Engineering, a $5.5 million program to “unite and expand” the university’s research into electronics, computing, chemistry, and biomedical engineering at the scale of atoms and subatomic particles.

A potential anti-HIV drug developed in part at Yale will be available more cheaply as a result of the university’s decision not to enforce its patent on the drug in developing countries. The chemical, known as Ed4T, was discovered by pharmacology professor Yung-Chi Cheng in collaboration with researchers in Japan. It may prove to be effective in anti-viral drugs, though it has not yet been used in clinical trials.


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