In early June, Yale University president Peter Salovey said Yale had reached its fundraising goal for the construction of two new residential colleges.
The expansion of Yale College will be the first since 1969 when the university first began to admit female undergrads. Construction is expected to begin in February 2015 and be completed by 2017. The university will add approximately 700 students, an approximately 15 percent increase in undergraduates.
Yale currently admits less than ten percent of applicants. In 1999 that rate was 20 percent.
The buildings have been designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects of New York. Stern is the dean of Yale’s School of Architecture and will follow the design of Yale’s other colleges, what us plebeians would likely call Gothic architecture. The two new colleges will be located north of the Grove Street Cemetery in the triangle comprised of Prospect, Canal, and Sachem streets in New Haven. The original timetable for construction was to be built by 2015 but was set back by the recession and the hit to Yale’s endowment by the financial collapse.
A plan by Yale’s then-president Rick Levin to raise $400 million of new funds to pay for the school was placed in motion. The fundraising effort was set on its way when Charles Johnson (net worth $5.6 billion), retired chairman of the money-management giant Franklin Templeton Investments, which manages more than $800 billion in assets, gave $250 million to Yale for the effort. This was the largest gift ever by an alumnus.
Aside from his mutual fund career, Johnson is also the largest shareholder of the San Francisco Giants, winners of the 2010 and 2012 World Series. Unlike stadium naming rights, however, Johnson will not get his name on either college. Yale policy is not to name a college after a living person.
Nevertheless, controversy over the naming of the two colleges has roiled the campus. Yale and community members have called for a female namesake or for Edward Alexander Bouchet, the first African-American student to graduate Yale College (Class of 1874), and the first American black to earn a Ph.D. degree. (Bouchet was awarded a doctorate in physics from Yale in 1876.)
In making his announcement Salovey said he was ready to go forward and that an additional $80 million had been raised. He added other projects such as a new biology building that had been placed on hold would also go forward, with an opening likely in 2019.