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Yale celebrates 316th birthday

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With pumpkins, apple cider, bluegrass and, of course, Handsome Dan, students and administrators celebrated Founder’s Day on Cross Campus on Wednesday.

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University President Peter Salovey began the tradition four years ago to commemorate the founding of the University in 1701. To celebrate the University’s 316th birthday, administrators organized a fall-themed celebration on Cross Campus, as well as open houses and tours of various campus attractions, including Sterling Memorial Library, the Yale Art Gallery and Harkness Tower.

“It’s a marvelous opportunity … to bring everyone [on] campus together, staff and students,” said Director of Communications and University Events Heather Calabrese.

Salovey emphasized that sense of community in a short speech on Cross Campus. While acknowledging tradition and architectural beauty as important aspects of Yale, Salovey stressed that “everyone who is here day after day” makes Yale what it is, and went on to thank the community for making the University a “fantastic place.”

Later, the Yale Citations performed the Bulldog Fight Song, Handsome Dan made an appearance and guests enjoyed a large blue-and-white Y-shaped cake.

Julie Averbach ’21, who attended the cake-cutting ceremony, was sitting on the lawn of Cross Campus with friends when she spoke to the News.

“It’s a nice day to unite the community around a common history,” Averbach said.

Other students said they enjoyed the event, but did not feel it captured the deeper values Salovey noted. Yvonne Ye ’19 said the festivities felt more like “a celebration of autumn than the University itself,” adding that it felt like “an event that pops up on Cross Campus with free food.”

At one end of Cross Campus, the Chaplain’s Office celebrated the 90th anniversary of the Chaplaincy with bright flags from different religions and a public art project to boot. University Chaplain Sharon Kugler said she was happy to share Cross Campus with the Founder’s Day celebration because it would help people learn about the history of the Chaplaincy.

In addition to the main event on Cross Campus, Founder’s Day also consisted of 19 open houses across campus. Sterling Library hosted one of the open houses, offering tours of its extensive books and artifact collections to the public. Co-Chair of the Sterling Open House Jenn Nolte remarked that the open house gave the Sterling Memorial Library a chance to share their resources with the community.

Ellen Dickinson ’97 MUS ’99, instructor of carillonneurs, said her organization hosted an open house of Harkness Tower and added that more than a hundred people toured the tower and saw its famous bells. She said the “fun” experience gave those who toured the tower a deeper appreciation of the tower and the work of the carillonneurs.

Suzanne Lovejoy, a music librarian, said she enjoyed the event because “it’s a way to sample a lot of things at one time,” while Daniel DeRosha GRD ’19 joked that Salovey’s bluegrass performance made the event worthwhile.

“Any chance you have to watch the president of Yale play … with a bluegrass band is a worthy occasion,” he said.

Founder’s Day has been celebrated at Yale since 2013.

Aakshi Chaba | aakshi.chaba@yale.edu



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