Historic $250 million gift to Yale from alumnus is largest ever

Yale President Peter Salovey today announced a $250 million gift commitment to the university by Charles B. Johnson, a 1954 graduate of Yale College, who retired last year as chairman of the board of Franklin Resources. This is the largest gift in Yale history. The gift brings the university’s goal to expand Yale College within reach.

“This is an extraordinary commitment from one of Yale’s most loyal alumni,” Salovey said. “It builds on Charlie’s long history of generosity to Yale. Charlie has already done so much to shape our international and athletics programs. This latest gift, in support of the expansion of Yale College, is truly magnificent, and I am deeply grateful. I am thrilled that this gift brings us to within $80 million of the funds needed to break ground on two new residential colleges.” (See Salovey's letter to Yale students, faculty, and alumni.)

Already among Yale’s most generous donors, Johnson has previously contributed to the Papers of Benjamin Franklin and the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy, and he made a gift to establish the Johnson Center for the Study of American Diplomacy, which holds the papers of Henry Kissinger. He has also supported renovations of the Yale Bowl and the creation of Yale’s first all-season outdoor athletics field.

Yale's residential college system, now more than 70 years old, is the most distinctive feature of Yale College. Life in a residential college allows a student to experience the cohesiveness and intimacy of a small school while still enjoying the cultural and scholarly resources of a large university. The 12 existing residential colleges are architecturally distinct, but each offers students a familiar, comfortable living environment, personal interaction with faculty members and administrators, and exciting opportunities for academic and extracurricular exploration. Students remain affiliated with their residential college for their undergraduate years and beyond.

Yale last built new residential colleges — Morse and Ezra Stiles — in 1961. The construction of two additional residential colleges will enable Yale to accept a larger percentage of highly qualified applicants to its undergraduate program. Currently, Yale admits only a small fraction of applicants; the 1,360 members of the Class of 2017 were chosen from a record applicant pool of 29,610. The two new colleges will allow Yale to admit about 15% more students each year, bringing total undergraduate enrollment to over 6,000.

The new colleges, designed by Robert A. M. Stern Architects (Stern is the dean of the Yale School of Architecture), are a deliberate extension of Yale’s residential college system, incorporating spaces and traditions that are historically associated with existing colleges. Their construction will be funded entirely through donor support, with construction commencing when all funding is secured.

“Yale is unsurpassed in the quality of its undergraduate education, and I strongly support Rick Levin's and Peter Salovey’s shared goal to make that extraordinary experience available to more students than ever before,” Johnson said. “I hope my commitment will inspire other alumni, parents, and friends to complete the funding for the construction of these colleges.”

Photos: Yale's Residential Colleges

Before freshman year, all incoming undergraduates are assigned to one of Yale's 12 residential colleges. Students remain affiliated with their residential college for all four years.
Yale makes every effort to represent the diversity of the entire undergraduate community within every residential college.
In this sense each college is a microcosm of the larger student population.
Every residential college has its own master and dean, both of whom are Yale faculty members.
The master and dean live in the college with their families and eat their meals with students in the dining hall.
Each residential college has its own dining hall.
Master's Teas, which take place in the living room of the master's house, give students the opportunity to meet and chat with a variety of notable quests.
The residential college system offers students a familiar, comfortable living environment.
Common rooms provide students with a place to socialize.
All of the residential colleges have their own libraries....
and performance spaces.
Each College has a courtyard.
Students can enjoy studying outside...
getting some exercise...
or just hanging out with friends.
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