YAA Assembly and Alumni Fund Convocation, Nov. 18, 2022

“The more things change, the more they remain the same,” the English translation of a French quotation that seems an appropriate introduction to YAA Assembly in 2022.

This was not a YAA Assembly of representatives of Yale College Classes, as it was in the past, but an alliance with the Yale Alumni Fund Convocation and included attendees from the Yale professional schools. Unlike other YAA Assemblies when representatives were charged a fee and had to fend for housing, all attendees were housed in the Omni Hotel free of charge, although there was a fee for spouses/partners.

On Thursday there were tours on a first-come-first-served basis, an Opening Reception in the afternoon at the Omni Hotel and a dinner at the Elm City Club (formally the Graduate Club), sponsored by the Yale Alumni Fund. Former YAA Assemblies on Thursday and Friday usually had several panels of professors to discuss general topics such as the environment with half hour breakout sessions involving visits to various Yale sites on an individual basis with a formal dinner on Friday evening in Commons highlighted by the President’s speech. This year everyone gathered at Sprague Hall on Thursday morning to be welcomed by President Peter Salovey with a brilliant address before the presentation of the new graduate school and a panel discussion with University Trustees.

The Jackson School for Global Affairs was opened on July 1, 2022. Dean James A. Levinsohn described its mission to “…inspire and prepare Yale students for global leadership and service.” There are 80 post-graduate students enrolled and 240 undergraduates. Courses are also available to students in Yale College and in Yale Graduate schools, an inner disciplinary opportunity that is common to all Yale students. He named several of the professors who were former members of the US Department of Stare. The session included a zoom meeting with Paul Simons from the COP17 in Egypt, where he was a member of the US team with John Kerry and many Jackson students. A Fellow of the Jackson School and a former US Ambassador to Chile, Simons described the negotiations taking place at this important international gathering to mitigate climate catastrophe. The internet address to learn more about this school is https://jackson.yale.edu.

The next session was a panel discussion with three Yale Trustees, Joshua L. Streiner, ’87, Marta L. Tellado, ’02 PhD, and Joshua Bekenstein, ’80. Weilli Cheng, ’77, the Executive Director of YAA, asked the panel members several questions that alumni have asked her over time. The questions were intelligent and answered with respect and empathy. Each trustee describe his or her background and individual duties, especially as they dealt with accountability. An abridged transcript of the session is available here.

At 11:45 AM, the next event was a Veterans Day Ceremony, held in Woolsey Hall because of inclement weather. Dozens of Yale cadets in ROTC uniforms stood facing the audience where Yale Glee Clubs have often stood. President Salovey and Kimberly M. Goff-Crews, Secretary and Vice President of the University gave welcoming remarks. After that the National Anthem, played by the Veterans Day Brass Ensemble and the Invocation given by Rod Lowe, Senior Associate Director of Major Gifts, Yale Divinity School, and Co-Chair of the Yale Veterans Network took place, Michael Sullivan, Yale Law School Class of ’24, delivered an impassioned speech concerning his five year experience in the US Marine Corps. Then Taps was played and Risa Sodi, Assistant Dean of Yale College <em>Honoree</em> gave the Veterans Day Tribute. Next, the Ensemble played the anthems of the various services and veterans in the audience stood when their particular anthem was played. It was a spellbinding moment. US Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Yale Law School graduate, arrived and spoke of the important bill that was just signed into law, after decades of trying, providing medical benefits to veterans with service related disabilities, such as PTSD, sleep apnea, and burn pit exposure. He also noted that the VA Hospital in West Haven was one of the finest in the nation. Lastly, the Benediction was given by Omer Bajwa, Director of Muslim Life, with Vice President Goff-Crews delivering the Closing Remarks.

This celebration also was a unique episode in Yale activities, as was the following event, in the afternoon in the Omni Hotel, the session outlining the range of volunteer Yale alumni opportunities:

1st Generation Yale Summer Bulldogs
Cross Campus
Yale Alumni Association Board of Governors
Yale Alumni Service Corps
Yale Alumni Fund Board of Directors & Volunteering
Yale College Reunion Giving
Yale Day of Service

The presentation of Yale Medals to five recipients took place in Commons of the Yale Schwarzman Center at 5:00 PM, an event that was common in other Assemblies:

Gina Rosselli Boswell, ’89 MBA
Allison E. Brody, ‘95
Rockwell “Rocky” Chin, ’71 MCP
Lauren E. Graham, ’13 MEM
Donald M. Roberts, ‘57

There was a reception with hors d’oeuvres and beverages following the ceremony.

And so the Assembly-Convocation ended: its details and events reflecting our times, but its essence remaining the same: men and women returned to New Haven to demonstrate their appreciation of the outstanding education offered to them by Yale University and with the desire to do what they could to preserve and enhance those opportunities for future generations.

On Saturday morning, the Alumni Village was open at the Yale Bowl at 10 AM and at 12 PM the kickoff for the Yale-Princeton Football Game happened, a game that was exciting even until the last few seconds, when Yale prevailed.

November 21, 2022
Submitted by William H. H. Rees
YAA Representative, Yale College Class 1956