With morning sunlight streaming through the tall windows of Sprague Hall and a brass ensemble playing a rousing fanfare, President Peter Salovey and Graduate School Dean Lynn Cooley warmly welcomed Yale’s 580 newest graduate students to campus.
“The faculty and staff of the Graduate School will do everything they can to support you in your Yale career and help you launch your career after graduation,” said Salovey, himself a graduate of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and a former dean of the school.
The diverse group of students attended 299 different colleges and universities and hail from 43 countries, including 109 students from China and 24 from India. While 429 of the students are enrolled in doctoral programs, 151 will pursue a master’s degree. Noting that there were students from every continent except Antarctica, Salovey joked that he would speak to the Admissions Office about that omission.
“Your reasons for being here vary as much as the disciplines in which you will immerse yourselves,” said Cooley, adding, “You all share a common trait: You are driven by curiosity to learn more, by the thrill of discovering new traits about the world, and by the desire to stretch your imagination and create new knowledge.”
Salovey and Cooley predicted the students would make lifelong friends among their new classmates and urged them to take full advantage of the abundant resources available to graduate students, including the Center for Teaching and Learning, the Office of Career Services, the McDougal Graduate Student Center, and the Graduate Student Life Office. All of Yale — including vast library archives, galleries and museums, and the offerings that come from Yale having four schools of the arts — is available for the students to explore and enjoy, they said. Yale also provides exceptional financial support, with all doctoral candidates receiving a fellowship that covers the full cost of tuition, a yearly stipend of at least $29,000, and comprehensive health care for free.
The President and Dean also urged the scholars to become involved in student government, either the Graduate Student Assembly or the Graduate and Professional Student Senate, as an effective way to fashion a better Yale, whether through expanded funding for students, or expanded gym hours.
New Haven, too, has its own treasures to offer, said Salovey, who has lived in the city since his time as a Yale graduate student, when he met his wife, Marta Moret, while both were involved in student government.
“I hope you feel at home in New Haven as much as we have for 34 years,” he said.
“If graduate school were easy, we would have to hold this ceremony in a much larger room,” Cooley said, noting that while the students had to develop a “tolerance for uncertainty,” faculty and administrators “stand ready to help with any question or issue you may have.”
At the end of her address, as “proof that graduate students have fun,” Cooley introduced the Citations, the a capella group that draws its membership from Yale’s graduate and professional schools. With finger snapping and hand clapping as their only accompaniment, the singers, including a husband and wife expecting a child, performed a three-song mini-concert. The Citations’ version of “Ain’t Misbehavin’” included “sittin’ in New Haven” in the lyrics.
After the formal welcome by Salovey and Cooley — who were joined in Sprague by Provost Ben Polak, Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway, Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Tamar Gendler, and Vice Presidents Kimberly Goff-Crews and Bruce Alexander — everyone moved outside to Cross Campus for personal introductions and refreshments on the lawn in front of Sterling Library, which holds many of the academic archives that the new graduate students will have at their disposal as they embark on their Yale careers.