Extensive changes were made in the college during the 19th cent. Numerous schools were added, such as medicine (1813), divinity (1822), law (1824), graduate studies (1847), and art and architecture (1865); as a result in 1887, under Timothy Dwight, the college was renamed Yale Univ. Later, other schools were added: music (1894), forestry (1900), nursing (1923), engineering (1932), drama (1955), and organization and management (1975). Women were admitted to the graduate school in 1892 and to Yale College in 1969. Further expansion included the founding of the Institute of Far Eastern Languages. The Yale Library, one of the largest in the nation, houses a large number of important collections, including the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Also notable are the Peabody Museum of Natural History, the well-known Yale Art Gallery, and the Yale Center for British Art. The Yale Univ. Press was established in 1908.
See E. Oviatt, The Beginnings of Yale (1916, repr. 1969); J. Lever and P. Schwartz, Women at Yale (1971); B. M. Kelley, Yale: A History (1974).
Private university in New Haven, Conn., a traditional member of the Ivy League. Founded in 1701, it is the third-oldest institution of higher learning in the U.S. Yale's initial curriculum emphasized classical studies and strict adherence to orthodox Puritanism. Medical, divinity, and law schools were added in 1810, 1822, and 1824. The geologist Benjamin Silliman (1779–1864), who taught at Yale from 1802 to 1853, did much to expand the experimental and applied sciences. Beginning in the mid 19th century, schools of architecture, art, drama, forestry, graduate studies, management, music, and nursing were organized. Yale's library, with more than 10 million volumes, is one of the largest in the U.S. Its extensive art galleries were established in 1832. The Peabody Museum of Natural History houses important collections of paleontology, archaeology, and ethnology. Yale is one of the most highly regarded schools in the nation; its graduates have included several U.S. presidents.
Learn more about Yale University with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Yale University is a private university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701 as the Collegiate School, Yale is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and is a member of the Ivy League.
Particularly well-known are its Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the undergraduate school, Yale College, and the Yale Law School, the two latter of which have produced a number of U.S. presidents and foreign heads of state. In 1861, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences became the first U.S. school to award the Ph.D. Also notable is the Yale School of Drama, which has produced many prominent Hollywood and Broadway actors and writers, as well as the art, divinity, forestry and environment, music, medical, management, nursing, and architecture schools.
The university's assets include a $22.9 billion endowment (the second-largest of any academic institution) and more than a dozen libraries that hold a total of 12.5 million volumes (making it, according to Yale, the world's second-largest university library system). Yale has 3,300 faculty members, who teach 5,300 undergraduate students and 6,000 graduate students. Yale is organized as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.
Yale's 70 undergraduate majors are primarily focused on a liberal arts curriculum, and few of the undergraduate departments are pre-professional. About 20% of Yale undergraduates major in the sciences, 35% in the social sciences, and 45% in the arts and humanities. All tenured professors teach undergraduate courses, more than 2,000 of which are offered annually.
Yale uses a residential college housing system modeled after those at Oxford and Cambridge. Each residential college houses a representative cross-section of the undergraduate student body and features facilities, seminars, resident faculty and graduate fellows, and support personnel. As of 2008-2009, there are 12 residential colleges, with plans to open two more in 2013.
Yale's graduate programs include those in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences — covering 53 disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, biology, physical sciences, and engineering — and those in the Professional Schools of Architecture, Art, Divinity, Drama, Forestry & Environmental Sciences, Law, Management, Medicine, Music, Nursing, and Public Health.
Yale and Harvard have been rivals in almost everything for most of their history, notably academics, rowing, and American football. In sports, the Harvard-Yale Regatta and The Game are annual contests.
Yale president Rick Levin summarized the university's institutional priorities for its fourth century: "First, among the nation's finest research universities, Yale is distinctively committed to excellence in undergraduate education. Second, in our graduate and professional schools, as well as in Yale College, we are committed to the education of leaders.
The nicknames "Elis (after Elihu Yale) and "Yalies are often used, both within and outside Yale, to refer to Yale students.
Yale traces its beginnings to "An Act for Liberty to Erect a Collegiate School" passed by the General Court of the Colony of Connecticut and dated October 9 1701. Soon thereafter, a group of ten Congregationalist ministers led by James Pierpont, all of whom were Harvard alumni (Harvard having been the only college in North America when they were school-aged), met in the study of Reverend Samuel Russell in Branford, Connecticut, to pool their books to form the school's first library. The group is now known as "The Founders." Yale was founded to train ministers.
Originally called the Collegiate School, the institution opened in the home of its first rector, Abraham Pierson, in Killingworth (now Clinton). It later moved to Saybrook, and then Wethersfield. In 1718, the college moved to New Haven, Connecticut, where it remains to this day.
In the meanwhile, a rift was forming at Harvard between its sixth president Increase Mather (Harvard A.B., 1656) and the rest of the Harvard clergy, which Mather viewed as increasingly liberal, ecclesiastically lax, and overly broad in Church polity. The relationship worsened after Mather resigned, and the administration repeatedly rejected his son and ideological colleague, Cotton Mather (Harvard A.B., 1678), for the position of the Harvard presidency. The feud caused the Mathers to champion the success of the Collegiate School in the hopes that it would maintain the Puritan religious orthodoxy in a way that Harvard had not.
In 1718, at the behest of either Rector Andrew or Governor Gurdon Saltonstall, Cotton Mather contacted a successful businessman in Wales named Elihu Yale to ask him for financial help in constructing a new building for the college. Yale, who had made a fortune through trade while living in India as a representative of the East India Company, donated nine bales of goods, which were sold for more than £560, a substantial sum at the time. Yale also donated 417 books and a portrait of King George I. Cotton Mather suggested that the school change its name to Yale College in gratitude to its benefactor, and to increase the chances that he would give the college another large donation or bequest. Elihu Yale was away in India when the news of the school's name change reached his home in Wrexham, North Wales, a trip from which he never returned. And while he did ultimately leave his fortunes to the "Collegiate School within His Majesties Colony of Connecticot," the institution was never able to successfully lay claim to it.
Serious American students of theology and divinity, particularly in New England, regarded Hebrew as a classical language, along with Greek and Latin, and essential for study of the Old Testament in the original words. The Reverend Ezra Stiles, president of the College from 1778 to 1795, brought with him his interest in the Hebrew language as a vehicle for studying ancient Biblical texts in their original language (as was common in other schools), requiring all freshmen to study Hebrew (in contrast to Harvard, where only upperclassmen were required to study the language) and is responsible for the Hebrew words "Urim" and "Thummim" on the Yale seal. Stiles' greatest challenge occurred in July, 1779 when hostile British forces occupied New Haven and threatened to raze the College. Fortunately, Yale graduate Edmund Fanning, Secretary to the British General in command of the occupation, interceded and the College was saved. Fanning later was granted an honorary degree for his efforts.
The emphasis on classics gave rise to a number of private student societies, open only by invitation, which arose primarily as forums for discussions of modern scholarship, literature and politics. The first such organizations were debating societies: Crotonia in 1738, Linonia in 1753, and Brothers in Unity in 1768.
Yale College expanded gradually, establishing the Yale School of Medicine (1810), Yale Divinity School (1822), Yale Law School (1843), Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (1847), the Sheffield Scientific School (1847), and the Yale School of Fine Arts (1869). (The divinity school was founded by Congregationalists who felt that the Harvard Divinity School had become too liberal. This is similar to the Oxbridge rivalry in which dissident scholars left University of Oxford to form the University of Cambridge). In 1887, as the college continued to grow under the presidency of Timothy Dwight V, Yale College was renamed to Yale University. The university would later add the Yale School of Music (1894), Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (1901), Yale School of Public Health (1915), Yale School of Nursing (1923), Yale School of Drama (1955), Yale Physician Associate Program (1973), and Yale School of Management (1976). It would also reorganize its relationship with the Sheffield Scientific School.
In 1966, Yale initiated discussions with its sister school Vassar College concerning the possibility of a merger as an effective means to achieve coeducation. However, Vassar declined Yale's invitation and, ultimately, both Yale and Vassar decided to remain separate and introduce coeducation independently in 1969. Amy Solomon was the first woman to register as a Yale undergraduate; she was also the first woman at Yale to join an undergraduate society, St. Anthony Hall. (Women studied at Yale University as early as 1876, but in graduate-level programs at the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.)
Yale, like other Ivy League schools, instituted policies in the early twentieth century designed artificially to increase the proportion of upper-class white Christians of notable families in the student body (see numerus clausus), and was one of the last of the Ivies to eliminate such preferences, beginning with the class of 1970.
The Boston Globe wrote that "if there's one school that can lay claim to educating the nation's top national leaders over the past three decades, it's Yale. Yale alumni were represented on the Democratic or Republican ticket in every U.S. Presidential election between 1972 and 2004. Yale-educated Presidents since the end of the Vietnam War include Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and major-party nominees during this period include John Kerry (2004), Joseph Lieberman (Vice President, 2000), and Sargent Shriver (Vice President, 1972). Other Yale alumni who made serious bids for the Presidency during this period include Hillary Rodham Clinton (2008), Howard Dean (2004), Gary Hart (1984 and 1988), Paul Tsongas (1992) and Jerry Brown (1976, 1980, 1992).
Several explanations have been offered for Yale’s representation in national elections since the end of the Vietnam War. Various sources note the spirit of campus activism that has existed at Yale since the 1960s, and the intellectual influence of Reverend William Sloane Coffin on many of the future candidates. Yale President Richard Levin attributes the run to Yale’s focus on creating "a laboratory for future leaders," an institutional priority that began during the tenure of Yale Presidents Alfred Whitney Griswold and Kingman Brewster. Richard H. Brodhead, former dean of Yale College and now president of Duke University, stated: "We do give very significant attention to orientation to the community in our admissions, and there is a very strong tradition of volunteerism at Yale. Yale historian Gaddis Smith notes "an ethos of organized activity" at Yale during the 20th century that led John Kerry to lead the Yale Political Union's Liberal Party, George Pataki the Conservative Party, and Joseph Lieberman to manage the Yale Daily News. Camille Paglia points to a history of networking and elitism: "It has to do with a web of friendships and affiliations built up in school. CNN suggests that George W. Bush benefited from preferential admissions policies for the "son and grandson of alumni," and for a "member of a politically influential family." New York Times correspondent Elisabeth Bumiller and The Atlantic Monthly correspondent James Fallows credit the culture of community and cooperation that exists between students, faculty and administration, which downplays self-interest and reinforces commitment to others.
During the 1988 presidential election, George H. W. Bush (Yale '48) derided Michael Dukakis for having "foreign-policy views born in Harvard Yard's boutique;" when challenged on the distinction between Dukakis' Harvard connection and his own Yale background, he said that, unlike Harvard, Yale's reputation was "so diffuse, there isn't a symbol, I don't think, in the Yale situation, any symbolism in it" and said Yale did not share Harvard's reputation for "liberalism and elitism In 2004, Howard Dean stated, "In some ways, I consider myself separate from the other three (Yale) candidates of 2004. Yale changed so much between the class of '68 and the class of '71. My class was the first class to have women in it; it was the first class to have a significant effort to recruit African Americans. It was an extraordinary time, and in that span of time is the change of an entire generation.
More recently, Yale has become a center for studying grand strategy, a catch-all phrase meant to encompass military history, statesmanship, leadership, and other disciplines thought useful for future American leaders. Each year the renowned professors Charles Hill, Paul Kennedy and John Lewis Gaddis teach a year-long seminar in grand strategy to a highly selective group of graduate and undergraduate students with the aim of preparing them for wielding power in government, business and public life. Students of the seminar are encouraged to network with one another and with guest speakers and participants. Grand Strategy alumni organizations have already sprung up in Washington, D.C. and New York City.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair will be teaching a seminar on faith and globalization through the Divinity School and the School of Management (open to undergraduate, graduate and professional students) for three years starting in the 2008-2009 academic year.
For the Class of 2012, Yale accepted 1,892 students out of the 22,813 total early and regular applicants, hitting a University record-low acceptance rate at 8.3%.
For the Class of 2011, Yale College accepted 9.6% of its applicants, with a 70.6% yield.
For the Class of 2010, the acceptance rate was 8.9%--lowest among the Ivy League--with a 71.1% yield; 728 were waitlisted, of which 56 were admitted. The interquartile range (25th percentile-75th percentile) for both the Math and Verbal sections of the SAT was 700-790.
Yale College offers need-blind admissions and need-based financial aid to all applicants, including international applicants. Yale commits to meet the full demonstrated financial need of all applicants, and more than 40% of Yale students receive financial assistance. Most financial aid is in the form of grants and scholarships that do not need to be paid back to the University, and the average scholarship for the 2006–2007 school year will be $26,900.
Half of all Yale undergraduates are women, more than 30% are minorities, and 8% are international students. Furthermore, 55% attended public schools and 45% attended independent, religious, or international schools.
Yale University Library, which holds over 12 million volumes, is the second-largest university collection in the United States. The main library, Sterling Memorial Library, contains about four million volumes, and other holdings are dispersed at subject libraries.
Rare books are found in a number of Yale collections. The Beinecke Rare Book Library has a large collection of rare books and manuscripts. The Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library includes important historical medical texts, including an impressive collection of rare books, as well as historical medical instruments. The Lewis Walpole Library contains the largest collection of 18th-century British literary works. The Elizabethan Club, technically a private organization, makes its Elizabethan folios and first editions available to qualified researchers through Yale.
Yale's museum collections are also of international stature. The Yale University Art Gallery is the country's first university-affiliated art museum. It contains more than 180,000 works, including old masters and important collections of modern art, in the Swartout and Kahn buildings. The latter, Louis Kahn's first large-scale American work (1953), was renovated and reopened in December 2006. The Yale Center for British Art, the largest collection of British art outside of the UK, grew from a gift of Paul Mellon and is housed in another Kahn-designed building.
The Peabody Museum of Natural History is New Haven's most popular museum, well-used by school children as well as containing research collections in anthropology, archaeology, and the natural environment. The Yale University Collection of Musical Instruments, affiliated with the Yale School of Music, is perhaps the least well-known of Yale's collections, because its hours of opening are restricted.
Many of Yale's buildings were constructed in the neo-Gothic architecture style from 1917 to 1931. Stone sculpture built into the walls of the buildings portray contemporary college personalities such as a writer, an athlete, a tea-drinking socialite, and a student who has fallen asleep while reading. Similarly, the decorative friezes on the buildings depict contemporary scenes such as policemen chasing a robber and arresting a prostitute (on the wall of the Law School), or a student relaxing with a mug of beer and a cigarette. The architect, James Gamble Rogers, faux-aged these buildings by splashing the walls with acid, deliberately breaking their leaded glass windows and repairing them in the style of the Middle Ages, and creating niches for decorative statuary but leaving them empty to simulate loss or theft over the ages. In fact, the buildings merely simulate Middle Ages architecture, for though they appear to be constructed of solid stone blocks in the authentic manner, most actually have steel framing as was commonly used in 1930. One exception is Harkness Tower, tall, which was originally a free-standing stone structure. It was reinforced in 1964 to allow the installation of the Yale Memorial Carillon.
Other examples of the Gothic (also called neo-Gothic and collegiate Gothic) style are on Old Campus by such architects as Henry Austin, Charles C. Haight and Russell Sturgis. Several are associated with members of the Vanderbilt family, including Vanderbilt Hall, Phelps Hall, St. Anthony Hall (a commission for member Frederick William Vanderbilt), the Mason, Sloane and Osborn laboratories, dormitories for the Sheffield Scientific School (the engineering and sciences school at Yale until 1956) and elements of Silliman College, the largest residential college.
Ironically, the oldest building on campus, Connecticut Hall (built in 1750), is in the Georgian style and appears much more modern. Georgian-style buildings erected from 1929 to 1933 include Timothy Dwight College, Pierson College, and Davenport College, except the latter's east, York Street façade, which was constructed in the Gothic style.
The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, is one of the largest buildings in the world reserved exclusively for the preservation of rare books and manuscripts. It is located near the center of the University in Hewitt Quadrangle, which is now more commonly referred to as "Beinecke Plaza." The library's six-story above-ground tower of book stacks is surrounded by a windowless rectangular building with walls made of translucent Vermont marble, which transmit subdued lighting to the interior and provide protection from direct light, while glowing from within after dark.
The sculptures in the sunken courtyard by Isamu Noguchi are said to represent time (the pyramid), the sun (the circle), and chance (the cube).
Alumnus Eero Saarinen, Finnish-American architect of such notable structures as the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Washington Dulles International Airport main terminal, and the CBS Building in Manhattan, designed Ingalls Rink at Yale and the newest residential colleges of Ezra Stiles and Morse. These latter were modelled after the medieval Italian hilltown of San Gimignano — a prototype chosen for the town's pedestrian-friendly milieu and fortress-like stone towers. These tower forms at Yale act in counterpoint to the college's many Gothic spires and Georgian cupolas.
Yale's secret societies, whose buildings (some of which are called "tombs") were built both to be intensely private yet ostentatiously theatrical, display diversity and fancifulness of architectural expression, include:
The Elizabethan Club, while not a secret society, nevertheless attracts many of Yale's social elite, especially those with literary or artistic interests. It boasts the largest endowment of any organization at Yale, and has in its collection of first editions a Shakespeare Folio, several Shakespeare Quartos, a first edition of Milton's Paradise Lost, and many other literary treasures. Membership is competitive and by invitation only.
The dominant architecture of the residential colleges, like the characteristic architecture of the university, is Neo-Gothic. Several have other period architecture, such as Georgian and Federal, and the two newest (Morse and Ezra Stiles) have modernist concrete exteriors.
Students are assigned to a residential college their freshman year. Only two residential colleges house freshmen and serve them meals, however; the majority of on-campus freshman live on the "Old Campus", a massive quadrangle formed by older buildings, and take most meals in the large dining facility called "Commons".
Residential colleges are named for important figures or places in university history or notable alumni; they are deliberately not named for benefactors.
Residential Colleges of Yale University:
In 1998, Yale launched a series of massive renovations to the older residential buildings, whose decades of existence had seen only routine maintenance and incremental improvements to plumbing, heating, and electrical and network wiring. Renovations to many of the colleges are now complete, and among other improvements, renovated colleges feature newly built basement facilities including restaurants, game rooms, theaters, athletic facilities and music practice rooms.
On 2008-06-07, President Levin announced that the Yale Corporation has authorized the construction of two new residential colleges, scheduled to open in 2013. The additional colleges, to be built in the northern part of the campus, will allow for expanded admission and the reduction of crowding in the existing residential colleges.
Yale supports 35 varsity athletic teams that compete in the Ivy League Conference, the Eastern College Athletic Conference, the New England Intercollegiate Sailing Association, and Yale is an NCAA Division I member. Like other members of the Ivy League, Yale does not offer athletic scholarships and is no longer competitive with the top echelon of American college teams in the big-money sports of basketball and football. Nevertheless, American Football was largely created at Yale by player and coach Walter Camp, who evolved the rules of the game away from rugby and soccer in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Yale has numerous athletic facilities, including the Yale Bowl (the nation's first natural "bowl" stadium, and prototype for such stadiums as the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the Rose Bowl), located at The Walter Camp Field athletic complex, and the Payne Whitney Gymnasium, the second-largest indoor athletic complex in the world.
October 21st, 2000 marked the dedication of Yale's fourth new boathouse in 157 years of collegiate rowing. The Richard Gilder Boathouse is named to honor former Olympic rower Virginia Gilder '79 and her father Richard Gilder '54, who gave $4 million towards the $7.5 million project. Yale also maintains the Gales Ferry site where the heavyweight men's team trains for the prestigious Yale-Harvard Boat Race. Yale crew is the oldest collegiate athletic team in America, and today Yale Rowing boasts lightweight men, heavyweight men, and a women's team—all of an internationally competitive caliber.
Historically, the Yale Crew was a national and international power, winning the Olympic Games Gold Medal for men's eight in 1924 and 1956 -- the last time a college crew won the Gold Medal. Since then, Yale has slowly lost its top spot in world rowing, although it remains competitive at the national level.
The Yale Corinthian Yacht Club, founded in 1881, is the oldest collegiate sailing club in the world. The yacht club, located in nearby Branford, Connecticut, is the home of the Yale Sailing Team, which has produced several Olympic sailors.
Yale athletics are supported by the Yale Precision Marching Band. The band attends every home football game and many away, as well as most hockey and basketball games throughout the winter.
Yale intramural sports are a vibrant aspect of student life. Students compete for their respective residential colleges, which fosters a friendly rivalry. The year is divided into fall, winter, and spring seasons, each of which includes about ten different sports. About half the sports are coed. At the end of the year, the residential college with the most points (not all sports count equally) wins the Tyng Cup.
Campus cultural life features many concerts, shows, recitals, and operas.
The university hosts a variety of student journals, magazines, and newspapers. The latter category includes the Yale Daily News, which was first published in 1878 and is the oldest daily college newspaper in the United States, as well as the weekly Yale Herald, first published in 1986. Dwight Hall, an independent, non-profit community service organization, oversees more than 2,000 Yale undergraduates working on more than 70 community service initiatives in New Haven. The Yale College Council runs several agencies that oversee campus wide activities and student services. The Yale Dramatic Association and Bulldog Productions cater to the theater and film communities, respectively.
The campus also includes several fraternities and sororities. The campus features at least 18 a cappella groups, the most famous of which is The Whiffenpoofs, who are unusual among college singing groups in being made up solely of senior men.
Yale is known for a number of secret societies, including the senior societies Skull and Bones, Scroll and Key, Wolf's Head, Book and Snake, Elihu, Berzelius, and the three-year society St. Anthony Hall. Their large historic buildings are prominent features on Yale's campus but entry is usually strictly for members only. The Elizabethan Club is a prominent club that also has a small membership, but guests of members may be invited inside for tea.
Between 1990 and 2006, New Haven's crime rate fell by half, helped by a community policing strategy by the New Haven police and Yale's campus became the safest among the Ivy League and other peer schools. In 2002–04, Yale reported 14 violent crimes (homicide, aggravated assault, or sex offenses), when Harvard reported 83 such incidents, Princeton 24, and Stanford 54. The incidence of nonviolent crime (burglary, arson, and motor vehicle theft) was also lower than most of its peer schools.
In 2004, a national non-profit watchdog group called Security on Campus filed a complaint with the Department of Education, accusing Yale of under-reporting rape and sexual assaults.
Murders or attempted murders involving Yale students or faculty include:
The Yale Campus has been the site of three bombing incidents. In addition to that carried out by the Unabomber, mentioned above, on May Day in 1970, during the New Haven Black Panther trials, two bombs were set off in the basement of Ingalls Rink. No injuries resulted, and the perpetrators were never identified.
On May 21, 2003, an explosive device went off at the Yale Law School, damaging two classrooms. The latter crime has not been solved, and no motive has been discerned; the bombing occurred while the nation was under an elevated terror alert, and while the university was involved in difficult labor negotiations. The homes of at least two former employees were searched, but no arrests have been made in the case.