Davies Mansion to be Renovated and Renamed

Yale officials have announced a $5,000,000 gift by Roland W. Betts II, Alumni Fellow of the Yale Corporation, with his wife Lois Phifer Betts, to renovate the John M. Davies House, a unique 19th century structure known locally as the Davies Mansion. The facility will be home to two newly created programs, the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization and the World Fellows Program, as well as other programs addressing international concerns. In fall 2002, the New Haven, Connecticut, landmark, sited on the north end of Yale’s campus, will open its doors as Betts House to honor five consecutive generations of the Betts family who have earned degrees from the University (the most recent being Jessica E. Betts ‘98.)

A successful investor and entrepreneur, Mr. Betts is chairman and general partner of Chelsea Piers Management, Inc., developer and operator of Chelsea Piers Sports and Entertainment Complex in Manhattan. He is also founder and president of Silver Screen Management, Inc., which has financed and produced more than 75 films for the Walt Disney Company. From 1989 to 1998 he was the lead owner of the Texas Rangers together with a group of investors that included his classmate and long time friend, President George W. Bush. A trustee of numerous organizations, Mr. Betts is a member of the United States Olympic Committee and a trustee of the American Museum of Natural History, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, and Columbia University Law School, where he earned his law degree. Mr. Betts earned his bachelor’s degree in 1968 from Yale College.

“I am delighted to announce this generous and truly visionary contribution,” said Yale President Richard C. Levin. “This University cannot aspire to greatness on a global scale without a strong presence in international academic and policy circles. Thanks to the Bettses, we will have a magnificent home for an important center of research and dialogue on global concerns.”

The Yale Center for the Study of Globalization is one of several initiatives at the forefront of the University’s growing international focus. Promoting interdisciplinary research, writing, and teaching on globalization, the Center will build ties among academia, business, and policy circles. In addition, the Center will engage in “Track II diplomacy”–privately sponsored efforts to promote dialogue and conflict resolution between opposing sides in crises and disputes. Its Web site, www.ycsg.yale.edu, will host an online journal of opinion for scholars and practitioners and publish articles and papers produced by Yale scholars and visitors. The Center opened in temporary headquarters July 1, 2001, under the direction of Strobe Talbott, until recently the Deputy Secretary of State and a key architect of United States foreign policy during the Clinton administration.

Also in temporary headquarters, the World Fellows Program will invite promising young leaders from around the world for a semester of study to broaden their grasp of global challenges, update their professional expertise and leadership skills, and join a network of people committed to international cooperation and development. Daniel C. Esty, an expert on trade and environmental policy holding joint appointments to the Yale Law School and the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, is the program director, and Brooke Shearer, formerly head of the White House Fellows Program, is the executive director.

Under the name of Davies Mansion, Betts House has been a part of Yale’s campus since 1972, when the University purchased the seven-acre property from the Culinary Institute of America, which had used it as a school for training restaurant chefs. Designed by architects Henry Austin and David R. Brown in the French Second Empire style, the mansion dates back to 1868 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. After a devastating fire in 1990, the fate of the mansion, of interest to local preservationists, was for several years in doubt. In 2000, Yale signaled its intention to keep the mansion intact by fully restoring its exterior, as well as the original parlor, which offered an example of the potential for completing the building’s interior. The 2000 restoration was designed by Vincent Benic Architects of New York.

The current interior renovation, which will reconfigure and refurbish 19,700 square feet, was designed by Helpern Architects of New York. Work has included asbestos removal, interior demolition, and structural stabilization, which are complete, and the major interior renovation now under way. The project is slated for completion in August 2002.

The renovated mansion will feature administrative offices, meeting rooms, a lounge, a central hall with grand stairs, a new fire exit stair, a publications and web site office, conference center, and a library. In addition to state-of-the-art video-conferencing and audio-visual equipment, the building will be furnished with new mechanical, electrical, fire protection, and security systems.

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Media Contact

Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325