Yale College

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Yale College
Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall Yale.JPG
Sheffield–Sterling–Strathcona Hall, main administrative building of Yale College
Former names The Collegiate School
Established 1701
Type Private
Parent institution Yale University
Location New Haven, Connecticut, Connecticut
Coordinates: 41°18′42″N 72°55′31″W / 41.31167°N 72.92528°W / 41.31167; -72.92528
Dean Mary Miller
Academic staff 1,155[1]
Undergraduates 5,409[1]
Alumni 75,021 (living 2,012)[2]
Website yalecollege.yale.edu

Yale College is the undergraduate college of Yale University. Founded in 1701, it is the original school of the university and the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States. Although other Yale schools were founded as early as 1810, Yale was known legally as Yale College until 1887, when its schools were confederated and the institution was renamed Yale University.


The Collegiate School was founded in 1701 by a charter drawn by ten congregationalist ministers led by James Pierpont and approved by the General Court of the Colony of Connecticut. Originally situated in Abraham Pierson's home in Killingworth, Connecticut, the college moved to New Haven in 1718 and was renamed for Elihu Yale, an early benefactor, in the same year. Founded as a school to train ministers, original curriculum included only coursework in theology and sacred languages, notably including Hebrew. Over the nineteenth century, curricular requirements were relaxed, and the college began to incorporate education in the humanities, natural sciences, and towards the end of the century, social sciences. These expanding fields of study were integrated with graduate schools of the university and amalgamated into a course of liberal arts education, which presaged the advent of divisional majors in the twentieth century.

The site of the college in New Haven was chosen as early as 1640, when John Davenport declared intentions to found a college adjacent to the New Haven Green. By 1718, Yale had raised funds for a single building in New Haven, which was demolished in 1750 and succeeded by a span of Federal-style buildings known as Old Brick Row. In the 1880s, a campus plan called for the demolition of the college's main buildings in favor of a large quadrangle now known as the Old Campus. Only the earliest building of Old Brick Row, Connecticut Hall, still stands.

The most dramatic expansion of the college's campus occurred in the 1930s, when a gift of Edward S. Harkness created and endowed eight residential colleges. Modeled after the college system of Oxford and Cambridge Universities, the colleges were intended to be the social and residential centers of undergraduate life while leaving academic programs under the oversight of university's departments. Two additional colleges were built in the 1940s, and two more in the 1960s.

After several decades of debate about coeducation, Yale College admitted its first class of women in 1969.[3]

Residential colleges[edit]

The current residential college system was instituted in 1933 through a grant by Yale graduate Edward S. Harkness, who admired the college systems at Oxford University and Cambridge University. Each college consists of a dormitory building or buildings, surrounding a quadrangle or courtyard. Each college includes a dining hall; student facilities, ranging from libraries to squash courts to darkrooms; and a few faculty, including a dean, a master, and two or more resident fellows. Most college buildings also feature distinctive architecture, and each has developed a different flavor or area of emphasis. Although Yale students take part in academic and social programs across the university, and all of Yale's 2,000 courses are open to undergraduates from any college, each college has a carefully constructed academic and social structure for its students, including seminars, social events, and master's teas with notable guests from around the world.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Yale created plans to create a thirteenth college, whose concrete facade would have broken with the campus's more prevalent Gothic and Georgian architecture. The plans were scrapped after the city of New Haven put up substantial financial barriers, and the proposed site was eventually filled with condominiums and shops (Whitney Grove Square, among others).

In 1990, Yale launched a series of massive overhauls 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. Berkeley College was the first to undergo complete renovation. Various unwieldy schemes were used to house displaced students during the yearlong projects, but complaints finally moved Yale to build a new residence hall[4] between the gym and the power plant. It is commonly called "Swing Space" by the students; its official name, Boyd Hall, is not commonly used.

In June 2008, Yale announced plans to build two new residential colleges, bringing the total to fourteen. The colleges would allow the school to increase enrollment by about 15 percent to approximately 6,000. The schools are to be built north of Grove Street Cemetery[5][6] and are being designed by the Dean of the Yale School of Architecture, Robert A. M. Stern.[7] The new colleges were originally scheduled to be completed by 2013, but construction was delayed by the recession that started in 2008.[8] In September 2013, Yale announced a gift of $250 million from Charles B. Johnson for the construction of the two new colleges,[9] although the university needs to raise $80 million more.[10]

List of residential colleges[edit]

Residential colleges are named for important figures or places in university history or notable alumni; they are deliberately not named for benefactors.

  1. Berkeley College – named for the Rt. Rev. George Berkeley (1685–1753), early benefactor of Yale.
  2. Branford College – named for Branford, Connecticut, the town in which Yale was founded.
  3. Calhoun College – named for John C. Calhoun, vice-president of the United States. The smallest college.
  4. Davenport College – named for Rev. John Davenport, the founder of New Haven. Often called "D'port".
  5. Ezra Stiles College – named for the Rev. Ezra Stiles, a president of Yale. Generally called "Stiles," despite an early-1990s crusade by then-master Traugott Lawler to preserve the use of the full name in everyday speech. Its buildings were designed by Eero Saarinen.
  6. Jonathan Edwards College – named for theologian, Yale alumnus, and Princeton University co-founder Jonathan Edwards. Generally called "J.E." The oldest of the residential colleges, J.E. is the only college with an independent endowment, the Jonathan Edwards Trust.
  7. Morse College – named for Samuel Morse, inventor of Morse Code. Also designed by Eero Saarinen.
  8. Pierson College – named for Yale's first rector, Abraham Pierson.
  9. Saybrook College – named for Old Saybrook, Connecticut, where Yale was briefly located.
  10. Silliman College – named for noted scientist and Yale professor Benjamin Silliman. About half of its structures were originally part of the Sheffield Scientific School,
  11. Timothy Dwight College – named for the two Yale presidents of that name, Timothy Dwight IV and Timothy Dwight V. Usually called "T.D."
  12. Trumbull College – named for Jonathan Trumbull, 18th-century governor of Connecticut.


Yale College is a constituent school of Yale University and contains a dependent system of residential colleges. Its executive officer is the Dean of Yale College, who is appointed to an unlimited, five-year term by the Yale Corporation.[11] The Dean oversees undergraduate academic curriculum, extracurricular activities, and student discipline, but does not have direct control over the residential colleges. The position is currently held by Mary Miller.

All of college's faculty are members of the Yale Faculty of Arts & Sciences, and are thereby jointly affiliated with the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Most undergraduate courses and majors are offered under the purview of academic departments, divisions of Arts & Sciences faculty which offer undergraduate and graduate curriculum.[12] In addition, the faculties of three Yale professional schools, the School of Art, School of Architecture and School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, also offer undergraduate programs.[13][14] Tenured faculty constitute the Board of Permanent Officers, who govern the school.[11]

Residential colleges, which are funded and controlled by the university, have separate administration and limited self-governance. Masters, usually tenured faculty members, are appointed to renewable, five-year terms by the Yale Corporation to oversee the affairs of each college. Residential college Deans, who are supervised by the Dean of Yale College, are in charge of undergraduate academic oversight. Each residential college is officially governed by its Master, Dean, and Fellows, and has a college council of students with limited jurisdiction over student affairs. Issues affecting multiple colleges are governed by the Council of Masters, composed of the masters of the twelve colleges.

In popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Yale 'Factsheet'". Yale University Office of Institutional Research. Retrieved 11 March 2014. 
  2. ^ "Alumni (living) by Yale school". Yale University Office of Institutional Research. Retrieved 23 March 2014. 
  3. ^ "Yale Will Admit Women in 1969; May Have Coeducational Housing". Harvard Crimson. 15 November 1968. Retrieved 1 April 2015. 
  4. ^ Yale.edu
  5. ^ Yale to Establish Two New Residential Colleges
  6. ^ Lewin, Tamar: "Yale to Expand Undergraduate Enrollment by 15 Percent", New York Times, June 8, 2008
  7. ^ "Architect Announced". Yale University Office of Development. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  8. ^ Stephenson, Tapley; Natasha Thondavadi (6 April 2012). "With designs set, new colleges waiting on funds". Yale Daily News. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  9. ^ "Historic $250 million gift to Yale from alumnus is largest ever". Yale University. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  10. ^ Salovey, Peter. "A message from President Peter Salovey about the $250 million gift for two new residential colleges". Yale University. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  11. ^ a b "The Yale Corporation By-Laws". Yale University. 28 September 2013. Retrieved 26 March 2014. 
  12. ^ Unlike many American universities, Yale does not have a system of divisional minors.
  13. ^ "Faculty Handbook". Yale University Office of the Provost. August 2013. Retrieved 26 March 2014. 
  14. ^ "Yale College Programs of Study, Forestry & Environmental Studies". Yale College Dean's Office. Retrieved 26 March 2014. 
  15. ^ Aunt Phillis's Cabin: or, Southern Life As It Is – M. H. Eastman (1852)

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]