President's Letter

So long, but not farewell

As I write my final column for the Yale Alumni Magazine as your president, I think of the refrain from Bob Dylan’s song “My Back Pages”: Ah, but I was so much older then / I’m younger than that now. The idea is that when beginning an undertaking, we often start with expectations that then shift entirely: over time, we come to realize we knew less than we thought.

There have, of course, been periods of great uncertainty over the past decade that have challenged and radically transformed our lives. I think of the
COVID-19 pandemic, the growing political polarization in our nation, and the pain resulting from international conflict. Through it all, members of our community remain committed to the promise of education and research, continuing to contribute knowledge and solutions to global challenges.

In November 2012, when I articulated a vision for a more unified, accessible, innovative, and even more excellent Yale, I could not have foreseen all that we would experience, nor how much we would advance Yale’s mission. In the tables above, you can see that every aspect of our university has changed.

By these numbers and others, we can measure how far we have come, building on the strong foundation established by my predecessor, Rick Levin. In the end, though, metrics do not capture fully our collective strength or all the accomplishments of Yale alumni across the globe.

Yale, at its core, is us: our best effort to improve the world today and for future generations. It is our conviction that education can be transformative, that research can extend and enrich lives, that scholarship can advance humanity, and that the arts can bring meaning, beauty, and innovation. What I cannot represent with data is the strength of these shared beliefs that have enabled us to accomplish so much.

During my inauguration in 2013, I noted that we are living in a world that will test our university, and we must remain rooted in our principles and focused on our mission. I encouraged us to be clear-eyed about our strengths and weaknesses, and ambitious in fulfilling our promise. We have done so, and we will continue to do so in the years ahead.

The credit for our progress goes to alumni, faculty, students, and staff. You have helped to make Yale the beacon of lux et veritas it is today.

Thank you for all you have done for Yale during my service as president. Although I am passing the baton, I remain a part of the Yale community and look forward as a former president and a present faculty member to witnessing our continued progress in the years to come.

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