Yale University was founded in 1701 as the Collegiate School by clergymen seeking to give local students a sound liberal arts education. In 1718, the school was renamed Yale College in gratitude for a generous donation from Welsh businessman Elihu Yale.
The Yale School of Medicine was established in 1810, the Divinity School in 1822, the Law School in 1824, and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1847. Yale continued to expand, and the name changed to Yale University. In the 1930s, Yale’s residential college system was instituted, in the style of Oxford and Cambridge. The undergraduate population is divided into distinct residential colleges where they live and socialize, in an effort to give students the feel of a small college within a major university.
In 1966, Yale and its sister college Vassar began talks about a possible merger. The two eventually decided against it, and in 1969, each became coed of their own accord.
Yale’s central campus sits on 310 acres in New Haven, Connecticut. The campus has 260 buildings in a variety of architectural styles, reflecting the school’s long history. The Harkness Tower, in Old Campus, stands at 201 feet and is emblematic of the collegiate Gothic style that characterizes the campus.
With more than 600 acres of athletic fields, plus centrally-located lawns and courtyards, the Yale campus is something of an oasis in the midst of a decidedly urban area.
Undergraduate living is divided among twelve separate residential colleges. The colleges are each city-block sized areas containing dorms and facilities like dining halls, libraries, seminar rooms, and lounges, with courtyards in the middle.
Construction crews are recently ubiquitous at Yale. The school is renovating and expanding its facilities, and it's adding two more residential colleges north of Grove Street, by Science Hill. The colleges are expected to open in 2013 and will make this area of campus, currently rather isolated, more central to student life.
Yale University is located in New Haven, CT, the second-largest city in the state with a population of more than 120,000. Both the city and the university have long and rich histories dating back three centuries. While the university does not define the city, it is its biggest employer.
Though crime has decreased in recent years and many areas are being revitalized, students still tend to feel safest sticking close to campus. Still, New Haven has museums, theaters, shopping, dining, and other entertainment options to offer, including the New Haven Green.
On the North Shore of the Long Island Sound, New Haven is about two hours from New York City and two and a half hours from Boston. It's accessible from major highways, and there is a train station served by Amtrak and Metro North lines.
Every Halloween, the Yale Symphony Orchestra plays a show accompanied by a student-made silent film. Yale administrators make appearances, both in film and live—they might be on camera and say, “hold on a second,” leaving the screen, and then reappear in the room that the Orchestra is actually playing in.
Other traditions at Yale involve nudity: There’s the Naked Run, in which the Pundits, a society of comedic students, goes to the top of the stacks in the library during Reading Week and runs through the library naked. (They go to the top of the stacks clothed and put their clothing in backpacks for the run, if you were wondering.) The Pundits also have a tradition of inviting freshmen to a big party early in their first semester at Yale. At midnight, the Pundits start taking off their clothes in the middle of the party, making the hapless freshman feel awkward and confused.
There’s also Tang, a big drinking contest between the residential colleges. It’s run by DKE, President Bush’s old fraternity.
William F. Buckley, Jr. (1950) was an author and commentator who founded The National Review.
George H. W. Bush (1948) was the 41st President of the United States.
George W. Bush (1968) is the 43rd President of the United States.
Nathan Hale (1773) was Connecticut’s state hero. He was hanged as a spy by the
British shortly after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Henry Luce (1920) was a founder of Time magazine.
William Howard Taft (1878) was the 27th President of the United States and
10th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Noah Webster (1778) was the author of the widely-used Webster’s Dictionary.
Eli Whitney (1792) was the inventor of the cotton gin.
Thornton Wilder (1920) was an American playwright whose works include The Bridge of San Luis Rey and Our Town.
Bob Woodward (1965) is a well-known journalist who along with fellow Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein broke the Watergate story that eventually led to President Nixon’s resignation.
Yale competes in the Ivy League Conference, the Eastern College Athletic Conference, and Division I of the NCAA. The school has an auspicious history in college sports—-football was practically created by a Yale man, Walter Camp, around the turn of the century. The Harvard-Yale football game continues to be one of the biggest events of the year.
But where Yale continues to excel is on the waterfront—-the Yale Sailing Team has produced a number of Olympic sailors, and Yale rowing consistently excels on an international level. Many students also participate in intramural games between the residential colleges.
Skull and Bones, the Yale secret society that boasts both George Bush and John Kerry as alumni, allegedly uses more water than any other property in New Haven.
All U.S. Presidents and many presidential contenders since 1989 have gone to Yale at some point. In addition to George W., there was George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton (a Yale JD, as is Hillary—they met at the school), and Vice-President Cheney, who dropped out of Yale. Howard Dean and Joe Lieberman also went to Yale. Previous Yale grads in the White House have included Presidents Taft and Ford.
A capella performing groups are pretty much unavoidable at Yale—there are more than a dozen groups. There is even a council assigned to oversee the rush process, the Singing Group Council.
The Yale Political Union was reportedly the first student political organization in the country. It is one of the largest groups on campus today.
All Yale students are assigned to residential colleges where they live, socialize, and engage in extracurricular pursuits. Each college has a dean, master, and affiliated faculty. The college system, which is modeled after the same at Oxford and Cambridge, was instituted in the 1930s at Yale. They are intended to approximate life at a small college, in turn making the large university setting more manageable and rewarding for students.
While freshmen are assigned to a residential college, most students do not begin living in their colleges until sophomore year; first-year students usually live in dorms in the Old Campus. These freshman dorms are made up of four- to six-person suites with a common room, on single-sex floors.
The twelve residential colleges at Yale all have their own personalities and amenities that distinguish them from the others. They are: Berkeley, Branford, Calhoun, Davenport, Ezra Stiles, Jonathan Edwards, Morse, Pierson, Saybrook, Silliman, Timothy Dwight, and Trumbull. In 2013, two new residential colleges will open to students. Silliman and Timothy Dwight Colleges house freshmen.