Yale University is a private, Ivy League University located in downtown New Haven, Connecticut. This weekend (October 5 - 7, 2001), Yale is celebrating the tercentennial of its founding in 1701.

Yale was founded in 1701 as the "Collegiate School" by its first president Reverend Abraham Pierson. The original school was founded in what is today Old Saybrook on the Connecticut coast, and later moved to Killingworth and Clinton. The school finally moved to New Haven around 1716. It was renamed Yale College in 1718 for benefactor Elihu Yale. Yale was born in 1649 in Boston, but his family returned to England when he was very young and he never returned to the colonies. He was contacted by Cotton Mather in 1718 and asked to contribute to the construction of a school in New Haven, in the colonies. Yale contributed goods, books, and a painting of King George I, some of which were sold, netting over £500.

The University itself is divided into several different schools. Yale College is the undergraduate arm of the University. Attached to this are twelve Residential Colleges: Berkeley, Branford, Calhoun, Davenport, Ezra Stiles, Jonathan Edwards, Morse, Pierson, Saybrook, Silliman, Timothy Dwight, and Trumbull. Undergraduate students live in one of the twelve colleges, at least for their freshman year, but attend classes together. Graduate studies are taught within the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, first founded in August of 1847. The Yale graduate school was the first in the United States to award Doctoral Degrees, with its first graduates in 1861. It was also the first to award a Ph.D. (in Physics) to an African-American, Edward Alexander Bouchet, in 1876. Yale Professional Schools include the Schools of Architecture, Art, Divinity, Drama, Engineering, Music, Forestry and Environmental Studies, Law, Management, and Medicine and Nursing. The medical school was founded in 1810, followed by the Divinity school in 1822, and the Law school in 1824.

Yale is usually ranked among the top universities in the United States, both for undergraduate and graduate/professional education. Its most famous professional programs are the Yale Schools of Drama, Law, and Medicine, the latter of which is attached to the Yale-New Haven Medical Center, one of the top 10 hospitals in the United States. Yale also has one of the largest libraries in the world, with holdings of nearly ten million items. In addition, the university runs several museums including the Peabody Museum and the Yale Center for British Art. It is also one of the more expensive universities in the United States, with one year setting you back over $32,000(USD) (/me faints). However, a large fraction of students receive financial aid of some sort. One would of course hope that is the case, given that the Yale Corporation, stewards of the University, currently control assets and an endowment worth over ten billion dollars.

The Yale campus is thoroughly integrated into the city of New Haven. Even New Haven Green, the town center, is bounded on two sides by buildings of the University. Many of the town's original builders and planners (including James Hillhouse and his son James Abraham Hillhouse) were affiliated with Yale University, and much of the character of downtown New Haven is influenced by the presence and architecture of the University. However, relations between the town and the University are occasionally strained, since New Haven has had severe problems with poverty and urban blight for decades, while Yale itself is one of the wealthiest institutions in the United States. Yale and New Haven used to have severe crime problems throughout the 1980's and early 90's, but they seem to have subsided with the improved economy.

Yale is notable because for the last twenty years, the University has had an alumnus in the executive branch of the US government, namely George Herbert Walker Bush (Vice-President 1981-1989, President 1989-1993), William Jefferson Clinton (President 1993-2001), Richard B. Cheney (Vice-President 2001-), and George Walker Bush (President 2001-). Yale would have been represented in a Republican or Democratic administration after the 2000 Election, since Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman is also a graduate. (The elder and younger Bushes were also reportedly members of Skull and Bones, one of perhaps a dozen secret societies on campus.)

Some other famous Yale alumni include: architect Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington; D.C., Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau; conservative writer William F. Buckley; and dozens of actors and actresses from the School of Drama including Jodie Foster, Meryl Streep, Sam Waterston, and (way back in 1911) Cole Porter.

The school's alma mater is "Bright College Years," and the mascot is a bulldog by the name of "Handsome Dan."

Main Street News, October 4, 2001 (http://www.mainstnews.com)

Some additional color on the founding (and name) of Yale University:

In 1701 the Reverend James Pierpont (an ancestor of J.P. Morgan), minister of the First Church, in New Haven, pushed the General Court of Connecticut to charter a college. He thought that the colony should not be dependent on Harvard University for training its ministers. The college operated in the various homes of its tutors for several years, and it was only when Jeremiah Dummer, the colony’s agent in London, donated an estimated 1000 books, that it was decided to build a permanent campus.

After a request by Jeremiah Dummer, Elihu Yale, who had left America at the age of 3 and never returned, made a contribution to the school of some books and East India Company goods that were sold for 562 pounds, 12 shillings. He also gave a portrait of King George I. At the school’s first commencement on the new campus, in 1718, trustees referred to it as Yale College, a name made official in 1745.

It is likely that they did this in order to avoid the more appropriate moniker "Dummer College."

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