Class of ’26 urged to pursue truth at Yale

President Peter Salovey and Yale College Dean Pericles Lewis today welcomed the Yale College Class of 2026 during a stirring opening assembly on Cross Campus.
(Photos by Dan Renzetti)

President Peter Salovey and Yale College Dean Pericles Lewis today welcomed to campus the Yale College Class of 2026, an accomplished and diverse group that represents 51 U.S. states and territories and 55 countries, during a stirring opening assembly on Cross Campus.

The annual ceremony marks the official beginning of the first-year students’ collegiate experience. In addition to more than 1,500 first-year students, this year’s assembly was attended by more than 1,000 guests, including their family members, friends, and other members of the Yale community.

In his remarks, Salovey reminded students of the importance of pursuing truth, particularly at a time when the world is challenged by the spread of deceptive information and attacks on expertise itself. A Yale education, he told the new students, will not merely reaffirm what they already think, but will provoke them to “uncover all you do not know before you leave” and to fine-tune their ability to sift facts from falsehoods.

But it will also behoove them, he told students, to be active participants in this process.

As you begin your college career, I call on all of us to promote a truth-seeking climate at Yale — in every seminar, in every residential college, and in every late-night conversation — by being willing to entertain ideas with which we do not agree, by being willing to extend grace and assume positive intent, by listening carefully, by thinking deeply, and by speaking with empathy and understanding,” he said.

Peter Salovey and Pericles Lewis
President Peter Salovey and Yale College Dean Pericles Lewis

In his first address to the opening assembly as Yale College dean, Lewis described the annual ceremony as one of his favorite formal events of the academic year. In addition to offering an important opportunity for introductions across the campus community, he said, for new students it’s an informal start to a conversation with peers and instructors that will last for years.

You will experience the less formal part of your education when you talk with the people around you, in the student groups you join, with your instructors during their office hours, or with the stranger sitting beside you at the long table in your residential college dining hall,” Lewis said. “Yale’s traditions and communities form their own civil society that runs parallel to the official curriculum.”

It is the conversation of a scholarly community that defines the pursuit of knowledge in a great university,” he added. “You come here knowing the state of public dialog in our polarized society. You know already how at times it simply reaffirms our existing beliefs and at other times devolves into partisanship or even violence. Universities are not immune to dogma, but they do aspire to a higher type of conversation. As you join or start your own conversations in the semesters ahead, think about how they can expand your horizons.”

In addition to the remarks by Salovey and Lewis, the ceremony included a procession of Yale’s academic leaders in full academic dress; a benediction by Yale Chaplain Sharon Kugler; and musical performances by the Yale Glee Club.

Earlier in the day, Salovey joined Lynn Cooley, dean of the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, for a matriculation ceremony welcoming the new graduate students. 

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Karen N. Peart: karen.peart@yale.edu, 203-980-2222