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Not the Same Old Summertime
Nine months used to be enough. June, July, and August were vacation. Those were the days when anyone left on the Yale campus could take a leisurely stroll from Science Hill through Cross Campus and from there around the Old Campus and rarely bump into another soul. Academic offices shut at noon and administrators left shortly afterwards. Classroom buildings were allowed to lie fallow, and the staffs of the residential colleges breathed a sigh of relief; all but the most essential support services were on drastically shortened hours or closed up altogether. Any faculty members left in town usually stayed only because there were so few other people around to distract them from their research.
Those days are gone forever. While the campus is emptied of its term-time residents within hours of commencement, a whole new set of occupants then moves in. And as soon as the last class reunion merrymaker departs, a different type of frenzy takes over. This summer, construction companies will roll in the heavy equipment and unfold scaffolding over the walls of close to a score of buildings. Something on the order of $30 million worth of capital projects is scheduled for the next three months, from continued construction of Luce Hall (the new home for the Center for International and Area Studies) to major renovations of Jonathan Edwards College and the Art and Architecture building. At the same time, alongside the hard hats, workers from dining services, custodial services, and the housing office, under the guidance of the Summer Programs and Conference Services office, will transform the rest of the campus into a center for educational programs and other gatherings ranging from religious convocations to knitters’ conventions.
The process of booking Yale for the summer—a process that remains virtually unknown to the “normal” campus population—begins early in the year. By midwinter, almost every available dormitory room and conference space on campus has been spoken for. This year, the missions of the 30 different organizations and around 4,000 out-of-town guests coming to Yale and New Haven, for stays stretching from two days to ten weeks, range far and wide. They include 150 alumni returning to attend the University Seminars program conducted by members of the Yale faculty under the sponsorship of the Association of Yale Alumni, and more than 1,000 students from 30 different countries who will enroll in college-level summer school courses.
Such activities do not differ widely from what goes on during the academic calendar. But this summer’s guest list also includes 1,200 foreign exchange high school students who will be spending two weeks getting acquainted with American ways before they disperse to communities around the nation. Some 200 members of the Knitting Guild of America will be gathering to compare notes, and 150 high-school-aged “Junior Statesmen” will spend July on campus studying and debating political issues. There will also be gatherings of opera teachers, Lutheran church musicians, and teachers from small colleges all intent upon sharing experiences and learning about advances in their fields.
The athletic facilities, which once saw only the occasional softball intramural game, are also operating on a new and bulging schedule. Among the heaviest users will be New Haven children participating in Yale-affiliated recreational and educational programs. Several Yale coaches will be running specialized sports camps. The Volvo International Tennis Tournament, which moved to New Haven four years ago, will again be bringing some of the game’s top professional players to the new stadium adjacent to the Yale Bowl. They will be joined on the Yale campus by the New Haven Ravens, a new AA professional baseball team that will be using the refurbished Yale Field as their home (see page 34). The Bowl has been made available for rock concerts for the first time since the early 1980s (Billy Joel and Elton John are tentatively planning stopovers later in the summer). The Bowl will also be the site for two World Cup soccer warm-up matches in preparation for the international championships.
One group that will be monitoring the way Yale and New Haven handle all their summer guests will be made up of representatives from the 130 nations that will be sending athletes to next July’s International Special Olympics World Games. The games, which are being billed as the largest sporting event in the world scheduled for 1995, will take place over a ten-day period in New Haven, many of them in Yale sports facilities (3,500 of the 6,500 athletes will be staying in Yale housing), and are expected to attract 500,000 spectators.
The Special Olympics will be the most demanding test yet of what is emerging as a new University strategy to get year-round use of Yale’s facilities. Just how effective that effort proves is in part the responsibility of Penelope Laurans, dean of Summer Programs and an associate dean of the College. “Yale is thinking about how to make the best use of its resources on a year-round basis,” she says. “We cannot afford not to be used all the time.” Adds Vice President for Finance and Administration Joseph Mullinix: “Part of the campus in all likelihood will be planned as a twelve-month operation.”
Although use of Yale’s “downtime” has been growing gradually in recent years, it has never been fully integrated into the University’s planning process. While many other schools have long run credit-granting summer school programs, Yale shied away from turning its facilities over to those who were not admitted to its regular academic programs. The Summer Language Institute, offering intensive foreign language study, was created in 1948 to continue the concentrated language teaching methods developed at Yale during World War II, especially in Chinese. The English Language Institute, which brings foreigners to the United States, was added in 1960. But both programs were small and highly specialized, and it was not until the early 1970s that Yale began to offer regular academic courses after commencement. Even then, “outsiders” were not welcome.
Faced with severe budgetary pressures, President Kingman Brewster looked at the empty campus as a way to bring in additional revenue. With his backing, the University created a voluntary summer term for Yale College students, essentially adding another semester to the academic calendar. (Dartmouth went to a “quarter” system to accommodate the addition of women to its student body in 1972, and Cornell is currently exploring the idea of a 12-month academic calendar.) Recalls Deputy Provost Charles Long: “It was thought that a 12-month program would make more efficient use of the whole University. Summer term was designed to radically change the pattern of attendance at Yale.” The first summer term was held in 1974, but the results were not encouraging. Student interest was low and faculty participation undermined regular departmental offerings, and after 1977 the program was abandoned.
When A. Bartlett Giamatti became President in 1978, the summer term was about to be phased out. But Giamatti, a literature professor, saw the continued success of the Summer Language Institute and, according to its then-director, French professor Charles Porter, wanted to demonstrate “that the University was making more cost-effective use of facilities.” The new President asked Porter to create a summer program without “creating havoc” for the rest of the year. “We modeled ourselves on the Summer Language Institute,” says Porter. “Concentrated courses with paid faculty.” In the summer of 1978, the summer school offered only a handful of courses. With Porter at the helm until 1988, the course list eventually grew to more than 80, prompting Long to judge it “an enhancement to the regular year rather than a detriment.”
Former English professor Thomas Hyde directed summer programs the following year, and in 1990, Laurans, a lecturer in the English department and the acting editor of The Yale Review, took over as head. But, recognizing the need to place coordination of summer campus use under one roof, her responsibilities were expanded the following year to cover the conferences held at Yale and the facilities required to accommodate them.
This summer, Yale will offer summer school courses in subjects ranging from basic acting techniques and Mandarin Chinese to financial accounting and organic chemistry. Especially popular—particularly among Yale’s own students—are science courses that meet medical school prerequisites. Unlike some summer schools, which hire outside or part-time faculty, Yale retains regular full-time faculty to teach most of the courses. Many classes meet daily or three times weekly for one to two hours and replicate courses offered during the academic year. (Among them: Political Science professor Steven Smith’s “Introduction to Political Philosophy,” “Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe” with Astronomy professor Robert Zinn, and Music professor and Concert Band director Thomas Duffy’s “Introduction to the History of Jazz.”)
One-third of the summer students come from Yale College, with equal numbers joining them from other colleges and foreign countries. Qualified high school students are welcome as well.
The English Language Institute turns parts of the summer campus into a virtual United Nations. “We bring in people from around the world,” says Laurans, “and they take the Yale name back with them.” Prospective students must go through a rigorous application process, and those who expect college credit for an easy time might be in for a surprise. “Ours is not a summer camp,” says Laurans. “We run a really serious academic program. It’s always our aim to run the very best academic program we can.”
For the opportunity to study at Yale, students pay dearly—anywhere from $1,050 for a basic science course to more than $2,300 for intensive language instruction. Some scholarship funds are available to Yale students and to all students in the art, writing, and drama programs. “We’re expensive,” says Laurans, “but not one of the most expensive. Our main mission is not to make money. We do run programs, especially the language courses, that lose money but others even that out.”
From the University’s perspective, the summer programs have emerged as a valuable asset. “There is a small net profit from the summer programs,” says Deputy Provost Long, “but money also goes to the residential colleges for usage, and more importantly, hundreds of thousands of dollars go to graduate students and faculty who teach.” He also points out that many union contracts run year-round, and the dining hall and custodial services workers can be used more efficiently. “It gives them meaningful work,” says Peter Vallone, Yale’s associate vice president for administration, who directs human resources. All these summer students also bring money to city shops and restaurants. “We have a mission to bring business to the city,” says Laurans. “We’re making the most of what Yale has to offer for the city.”
While education remains a major component of the summer program, a wide range of other activities is taking place at the same time. Dozens of organizations representing thousands of members arrive in New Haven each summer to utilize Yale facilities for their conferences, seminars, and events. And in this area, profit is very much the goal. “There is certainly a desire to increase all of Yale’s sources of income,” says Long. “And this is the best income of all because it can be spent on any part of the budget.”
According to Susan Adler, who runs Yale’s three-person conference services office, there are strict guidelines on who can use University facilities—primarily nonprofit organizations and educational programs. Adler, who is charged with recruiting conference business, is a member of the Association of Conference and Events Directors, which represents 450 colleges around the country. Competition is fierce for the lucrative trade; some educational institutions have built facilities specifically to attract conference traffic. Adler works hand-in-hand with the city’s convention bureau, area hotels, and the Chamber of Commerce Retail Council to coordinate sales activities. She then sees to it that conferees coming to Yale have everything they need, from fans in unair-conditioned rooms to tennis and golf privileges at Yale facilities and special coupons for use in area restaurants and shops. When the International Special Olympics organizers come this summer, she must arrange simultaneous translation services in French, Spanish, and Russian.
The push to attract conference business has been remarkably successful, especially given the upheaval caused by the ongoing restoration and construction work under way on the campus. And the facilities are not always what might be desired. In fact, the University has had some facilities-related near-disasters. When 3,000 Unitarians came to town five years ago for their convention, they faced what is now the norm of a campus torn up for renovations. That summer the experience included the ’round-the-clock work of rebuilding Calhoun College. According to Adler, the logistics of finding adequate space for the meetings and exhibitions and then moving attendees to them proved “too much for us.” The National Endowment for the Humanities sponsors numerous faculty-led seminars at Yale each summer, bringing college teachers from around the country for five-to-eight week courses. According to Long, complaints about substandard dormitory housing from participants nearly brought about a withdrawal from Yale by NEH.
Nevertheless, there are compensating factors. “People love our campus,” says Adler. ”They want the academic environment. It inspires the learning process. Our name is a plus, and the location is good and less expensive than Boston or New York.” Providing a home for the Special Olympics next summer is expected to make Yale and New Haven an even stronger contender.
As Yale rebuilds its campus, summer use has begun to play a significant part in the design and planning of buildings. Laurans directs a committee that convenes to coordinate facilities use in the summer to avoid the sorts of problems that have arisen in the past. “We’ve developed a very, very complex schedule,” she says. “More than a third of my work with Summer Programs is facilities related.” University planner Pamela Delphenich tries to help out by routinely taking summer programs into account when initiating projects. For instance, any especially noisy work, such as demolition, is now timed to avoid conflicting with class and group gatherings being held in nearby buildings.
Summer use is actually fueling some of the renovation strategy. Because Yale’s buildings were so rarely used in the summer, few of them are air-conditioned. With the increase in year-round use, climate control is becoming an issue not just for fragile books and works of art, but inhabitants as well. “If we had air-conditioned dormitories,” says Adler, “we could do a lot better. Without it, you have to turn away lucrative opportunities.”
Even when all the renovation work now taking place has been completed, Yale is not likely to fool any future conference planners into believing it is a bucolic resort and convention center. But the days when Yale turned up its nose at their business are gone. “We have to keep our primary educational and research mission foremost,” says Long, “but Yale should not be too proud to invite groups that have nothing to do with education.”
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