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To: The Yale Community
From: President Peter Salovey
Posted Date: May 08, 2015 04:16:46 pm
Summary:  A Special Announcement
Last Updated: May 11, 2015 02:49:12 pm Message ID: 122055

To the Yale Community,

I am delighted to announce an extraordinarily generous $150 million gift to Yale by Blackstone founder and Yale alumnus Stephen A. Schwarzman ’69 to create a world-class campus center by renovating the historic Commons and Memorial Hall. Beyond a substantial gift to transform these buildings, Mr. Schwarzman’s gift also includes a significant commitment for programming in the center when it opens. Mr. Schwarzman’s gift, and his devotion to Yale and its students, place him among the great names of Yale—and American—philanthropy. I am so personally grateful to him, and the entire Yale community owes him our gratitude.

Yale University has always placed its students at the center of its enterprise—and the educational, social, and cultural programs made possible by this gift, the second largest single gift in Yale’s history, will reinforce this core value. The Schwarzman Center will be transformational for Yale in providing, for the first time, a center dedicated to cultural programming and student life at the center of the university. It will be designed to draw together students and faculty from all of Yale’s schools and colleges, and with the help of state-of-the-art technology, enable virtual engagement with the outside world in a dynamic and unprecedented way. As a demonstration of the university’s commitment to this gift and to our students, Yale will share in the development of the center’s programming budget when the center opens. To learn more about our vision for the center, please click here.

Last fall, I received a report, jointly authored by the Yale College Council, the Graduate School Assembly and the Graduate and Professional Student Senate. It was the first time that all three student governments had come together to make recommendations on student life; the groups uniformly and unanimously recommended that Yale find a way to create a “hub” on campus where students could congregate. They pointed out the absence of any central place where students from Yale’s graduate and professional schools could gather or where any of them could meet with Yale undergraduates. They emphasized that a campus-wide center need not be at the expense of the culture of the residential colleges or the robust communities of the professional and graduate schools. The student leaders inspired me (as former dean of both the Graduate School and Yale College) to see anew how a university student center could complement the traditions and communities at Yale we already treasure and even help us join in conversations with others across the globe.

I will soon be meeting with the presidents of the YCC, the GSA, and the GPSS to plan a mechanism for the full engagement of all Yale students, to share ideas about how we make this fantastic opportunity most beneficial to students as well as the entire campus community for the century ahead. In the meantime, we will appoint a Schwarzman Center Advisory Committee, which will be co-chaired by Jonathan Holloway, the dean of Yale College, and Lynn Cooley, the dean of the Graduate School. The committee will also include other deans, faculty members, the presidents of the YCC, GSA, and GPSS, as well as other undergraduates and graduate and professional students.

The Schwarzman Center Advisory Committee will organize numerous opportunities for input at each of our schools and in the residential colleges in the early fall. They will create a website to keep the community abreast of the project. But they—and I—are eager for your ideas now as well. Please click here to offer your ideas about how Yale can best realize the exciting potential of this remarkable and historic gift.  

I look forward to working with every part of the community to make sure we create the campus center worthy of this spectacular generosity.


Peter Salovey
Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology