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The Yale campus is about to get 43 percent bigger. The university announced in June that it will buy a 136-acre research campus in West Haven, Connecticut, that is being vacated by Bayer Healthcare. The purchase will give Yale 550,000 square feet of new laboratory space, allowing for an unexpectedly rapid expansion of Yale’s biomedical research initiatives.
The site, alongside Interstate 95 and seven miles from Yale’s central campus, straddles the West Haven-Orange town line. It contains 17 buildings totaling around 1.3 million square feet, including three state-of-the-art laboratory buildings, office space, and a large warehouse/factory space. Yale had not been actively seeking such a large expansion, but when Bayer announced in November that it was leaving—and when efforts by government and business leaders to find another pharmaceutical company to take over the site proved fruitless—administrators decided the chance was too good to pass up. “This is a once-in-a-century opportunity,” says Yale president Rick Levin. “It’s just an amazing windfall for us. I think it’s going to have enormous implications for the university in the long run.”
Since the purchase was a target of opportunity, the university has not yet decided just how the property will be used. But Vice President Bruce Alexander '65 says that the programs envisioned for the site—which administrators have begun to call the West Campus—are new ones. “This will be incremental, additional activity,” he says. “We won’t be moving anything that’s currently in New Haven, but rather expanding some interdisciplinary science and accelerating some other research efforts.”
Although Bayer and the university will not reveal the purchase price until the closing, later in the summer, people familiar with the deal told the Associated Press that the price was about $100 million. Levin says Yale was the highest of 15 bidders for the property, largely because the university was the only bidder interested in using the state-of-the-art research laboratory space. (The others were real estate developers who would have converted the lab space to offices or replaced the buildings with big-box retail.) Building comparable lab space from scratch, Levin says, would cost about $350 million.
“This lab space is fabulous,” says Levin. “When we were walking through the chemistry building, [provost and chemistry professor] Andy Hamilton said that it has some amenities that we ruled out for reasons of cost in the chemistry building we just built.”
And laboratory space is nearly all that is holding back expansion of Yale’s medical research, says medical school dean Robert Alpern. “The researchers that would go into a place like this bring in a lot of research grants,” he says, so Yale would not need new money to pay the researchers' salaries. Alpern, who has been involved in medical research for 25 years, says, “This will be the first time in my career that expansion is not limited by space.”
The towns of West Haven and Orange say they support the sale. Although Yale’s purchase takes the land off of the property tax rolls, the state of Connecticut compensates towns for about 70 percent of their unrealized tax revenue from tax-exempt institutions. Yale has pledged a total of $600,000 a year to the towns to help make up the difference. The university will also contribute $1 million to science programs in local schools over the next four years.
Alexander took pains to emphasize that the purchase does not signal any lessening of Yale’s commitment to New Haven, where the university has 13.5 million square feet of building space and is currently planning to build 2 million more. New Haven mayor John DeStefano Jr. told the New Haven Independent that the sale in itself does not worry him, but that some of its implications do: “To me the real shame of Bayer is not that Yale’s going there, but what’s not going there: for-profit pharmaceutical. It points to a concern the whole region should share about the lack of growth in the private sector.”
For the university, the new campus’s obvious drawback is its location—at least ten minutes from Yale (when traffic on I-95 is at its best, which is not often). But Levin explains that the university does not plan to move any programs to the new site that require regular interaction with the central campus, thus ruling out academic departments, faculty offices, undergraduate laboratories, and classrooms. Levin suggests that the site’s warehouse space could fill an urgent need for collection storage space for the Art Gallery, the Center for British Art, and the Peabody Museum.
Moving between the campuses could get easier. Last year, the state approved funding for a new commuter rail station at the west end of the parcel, which would make rail shuttle service possible between the site and downtown New Haven.
Levin says the 136 acres, which include some unbuilt land and surface parking, were also an appealing part of the deal. “Over the next 20 years, we're not in any jeopardy of running out of room in New Haven,” he says. “But if you think over 50 years or 100 years, we certainly are.”
Says Alpern: “Rick Levin told us, ‘One hundred years from now, if we don’t buy it, people will look back on it as one of the stupidest decisions the Levin administration made.’ I think they’ll look at what we’ve done as one of the smartest decisions of Rick Levin’s tenure.”
Faith and Fashion
Members of the Muslim Students Association show their Yale spirit with a new twist on an old motto: the first line on the back of the MSA T-shirt reads, “For Allah, for Ummah, and for Yale.” Former MSA president Altaf Saadi '08, who created the shirts when she was a freshman, says that “ummah” translates broadly to “community.” Modeling the shirts are, from left, Zahreen Ghaznavi '08 and Usama Qadri '10.
Alumni Name the Colleges (Part Three)
What does the poet Emily Dickinson have to do with Yale? Well, her father, Edward, was a graduate of the Class of 1823. That’s good enough for reader Lawrence N. DiCostanzo '67, '69MA, who suggests that one of two proposed residential colleges at Yale be named for Miss Dickinson. “She was not a judge, investor, or doctor,” writes DiCostanzo. “But poets are much more rare. Besides, her voice is still with us.”
Since Yale announced that it was considering adding two new colleges, we have been collecting ideas for names. This is an entirely unofficial forum; the actual decision belongs to the Yale Corporation, which has not ruled out naming the hypothetical new colleges after donors.
Christiana Peppard '05MAR, who is working on her PhD in religious studies at Yale, has a more recent woman in mind: Pauli Murray '65DSL. Murray (1910–1985), one of the founders of the National Organization for Women, had a remarkable career as a lawyer, professor, poet, and, late in life, the first African American woman to be ordained as an Episcopal priest. In addition to her earned doctorate from the Law School, Yale awarded her an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in 1979.
Other new ideas: Sharon Noble Eaton of Guilford, Connecticut, nominates Theophilus Eaton (1590–1658), the cofounder, with John Davenport, of the New Haven Colony. Eaton, a prosperous businessman, was the colony’s first governor (and, by the way, Elihu Yale’s step-grandfather). Richard Herrmann '65 reminds us of Lafayette Benedict Mendel '91, '93PhD (1872–1935), a biochemist who discovered vitamins A and B during his Yale career. A Sterling Professor, he was one of the first Jews on the Yale faculty.
To see all the names we’ve collected so far, go to yalealumnimagazine.com/extras/ namethosecolleges.html.
One Hundred Yalies Encounter China
Elissa Berwick wants to learn Chinese. Stacey Demento might do business in China after graduate school. Alice Ly wants to have a better understanding of her Chinese family’s roots.
These three students were among the 62 Yale students and 38 faculty and staff who journeyed to China for a ten-day visit in May, courtesy of the university and the Chinese government. The trip grew out of a visit to Yale by Chinese president Hu Jintao last year; Hu surprised the university with an invitation to send 100 students and faculty to China “to enhance mutual understanding between young people and educators of the two countries.”
The university asked the deans of every residential college, the graduate school, and the professional schools to select two students each for the trip, preferably first-time visitors to China who still had substantial time left in their Yale careers. “The idea was to introduce China in its various aspects, in the hope that some would be inspired to include China in their future study or work plans,” explains Don Filer, director of international affairs in the Office of the Secretary at Yale.
The itinerary included visits to Peking University in Beijing and Fudan University in Shanghai, interaction with Chinese students and scholars, meetings with government leaders, and tours of major cultural and historical sites in Beijing, Shanghai, and the ancient city of Xi'an.
Although most students on the trip didn’t speak Chinese and were ushered around by government guides, they feel they got a somewhat authentic view of China, especially on their home stays in the industrial western province of Xi'an. They saw homeless people and other signs of poverty along with the better-off, well-educated students and government officials they met.
Ly, a third-year grad student in biology, says she'd heard about the work ethic of Chinese students, but she was still shocked by their grueling schedule. “Classes alone take up 50 hours a week,” she says. “They don’t have free time. When you talk about what you do with your friends after class, they say, ‘What are you talking about? I study.’”
Signs of modernization included a remarkable building boom (including projects for next year’s Olympic games in Beijing) and equally remarkable air pollution. “I expected to see hordes of bicyclists, but there are way more cars than bicycles,” Berwick says, adding that the impact of globalization was also apparent: “There’s a Starbucks on every corner. There’s a Starbucks at the Great Wall.”
Green Card Scam Run from Law School Office
A convicted felon who worked as a volunteer research assistant for a Yale Law School professor allegedly capitalized on his Yale connection to swindle millions of dollars out of undocumented Irish immigrants. Posing as an attorney who worked for the Yale Immigration Law Clinic, investigators say, Ralph Cucciniello promised to fix his victims' immigration problems and get them green cards for a fee of around $5,000.
Cucciniello, a 55-year-old resident of Branford, Connecticut, was arrested in May by New York City police on charges that he took money from three undocumented Irish immigrants, promising to secure them permanent resident status but delivering nothing. Those charges may just be the beginning: an investigation is under way in Connecticut, where authorities believe Cucciniello may have collected millions of dollars from more than 200 Irish immigrants over the last two years.
Cucciniello, who is not an attorney, was never an employee of the Law School, but the school acknowledged in a statement that he had occasionally volunteered for a Law School professor “in connection with that professor’s non-Law School activities.” Cucciniello had a Yale e-mail account and identification card, and investigators say that he met with his victims in an office at the Law School library. The Yale Immigration Law Clinic does not exist; the school does have a clinic that aids immigrants who are seeking political asylum in the United States, but it does not use that name.
“This never could have been pulled off without the credibility of him being part of the Yale Law School,” Timothy Reardon of the New Haven state's attorney’s office told the Hartford Courant. “People literally sat in what they thought was his office in the Law School and handed him cash.”
The Law School statement also said that Cucciniello “has not been authorized by the Law School or the clinics to undertake any activities or to represent any clients. Upon learning of his arrest, the Law School suspended his access to all Law School facilities.” The school would not name the professor for whom Cucciniello was volunteering, but sources close to the investigation told the Courant that it was Steven B. Duke, an authority on criminal law who has taught at Yale since 1961.
In New Jersey in 1996, Cucciniello was convicted of conning acquaintances out of more than $250,000. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison but instead entered the federal witness program for reasons that have not been disclosed.
The Youngest Secret Society
Yale’s firmament of senior-year societies for undergraduates has been mostly fixed since the 1950s (give or take a few underground groups). But there's one exception. Mace and Chain, the baby of the secret society family, was born in 1956. During the 1960s, when the societies as a whole lost cachet, Mace and Chain disappeared altogether. In the 1990s it came back from the dead, and today is doing well enough to have a “tomb” of its own.
Mace and Chain was created after Thornton Marshall '57 watched his roommate get tapped for Wolf’s Head and turn down Skull and Bones. “No doors banged after that,” says Marshall, now a financial consultant in Huntington, New York. “I was annoyed, angered, and insulted—twice. I wanted to have my day in the sun.”
So he dressed himself up, stood in front of a mirror, and declared, “You are hereby tapped.” That same night, he recruited half a dozen friends to launch the new society. The Mace and Chain emblem emerged from their conversations about chivalric conduct, but the charter that Marshall and his mates crafted was considerably more modern. According to society lore, English professor Robert Penn Warren had exhorted Marshall “to start something which is a little closer to reality and that can exist in the sunlight.” The society obliged by forging ties with interested professors, adding the democratic rule of rotating its student leadership weekly, and leaving future delegations free to reinvent themselves.
Headquartered in an apartment on Wall Street (above George and Harry's restaurant), Mace and Chain survived until the late 1960s, when it lost its lease. But after a nostalgic conversation with Marshall in 1993, Mace and Chain alumni William “Biff” Folberth '66 and Tom Haines '59 set out to bring the society back to life.
Folberth and Haines rounded up a new delegation of five senior men and five senior women and began the work of making Mace and Chain a permanent fixture on campus. Several graduates financed a succession of condominiums and finally in 2001 presented the society with a 180-year-old house on Trumbull Street, near campus—making Mace and Chain the first senior society to acquire its own real estate since Manuscript, in 1956.
Mace and Chain now has more than 300 alumni, and recent graduates say the elders stay involved without being pushy, and current members are free to shape their rules and activities as they please. For members today, says Erin Tush '05—as for Thornton Marshall 51 years ago—“it’s good to know you’re not bound by what others have done.”
A Yale student who was sexually assaulted by another student is suing her assailant and the university. The Hartford Courant reported in May that the assault victim had filed a $20 million lawsuit claiming that Yale failed to enforce underage drinking laws and to educate students about sexual assault. The student’s ex-boyfriend, Gregory Korb '08, pleaded no contest last year to charges of misdemeanor assault and was sentenced to probation.
Another lawsuit against the university was settled out of court in June. Former medical school administrative associate Mary Beth Garceau had sued the university for failing to act on complaints that she was being sexually harassed by her supervisor, pharmacology chair Joseph Schlessinger. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
The Yale child study center has been designated one of eight Autism Centers of Excellence by the National Institutes of Health in recognition of the research being conducted there into the disorder’s cause and treatment. The designation comes with a five-year, $7.5 million grant.
Indiana Jones was due on campus in June and July. Scenes for the latest feature in the action-movie series starring Harrison Ford were to be shot on Chapel Street, the Old Campus, and Commons. The filmmakers took advantage of a new Connecticut business tax credit for films made in the state.
A libel suit filed in California in April by KinderUSA, a Muslim charity in Los Angeles, charges that Yale University Press and author Matthew Levitt defamed the organization in Levitt’s book Hamas: Politics, Charity, and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad. The book suggests that KinderUSA helps to fund the Hamas terrorist group. The charity denies the accusation and is seeking $500,000 in compensatory damages and unspecified punitive damages.
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