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Above left: President Richard C. Levin thanked the audience of students, faculty, staff and alumni for "making Yale the national treasure that it is." Above right: In one segment of the Tercentennial Show, Tom Wolfe '57 Ph.D. (left) chatted with the University's first benefactor and namesake, Elihu Yale (as portrayed by Derek Lucci of the School of Drama), who had been "magically transported" through time. More images may be viewed at the photo gallery of the gala celebration.

Gala Weekend Concludes University's Tercentennial

Yale University symbolically blew out the candles on its year-long 300th birthday celebration Oct. 5-7, 2001 with a weekend of activities that included everything from pomp and circumstance to pure entertainment.

Representatives from colleges and universities around the world gathered with thousands of students and faculty on Oct. 5 for a Convocation on Cross Campus. Among the featured speakers were the presidents of Harvard and Princeton Universities. President Lawrence Summers of Harvard said, in part: "Great universities connect us not just with our history and our values, but also with each other and our future. Harvard today is proud to join in celebrating the greatness that is Yale University." Noting that Princeton was one of 40 U.S. colleges or universities to be founded or initially led by Yale faculty or graduates, President Shirley Tilghmann told the Yale audience, "Princeton is indeed your eldest daughter."

Yale's own leader, President Richard C. Levin, noted that those celebrating the University's bicentennial 100 years ago would have been amazed at the changes that had occurred. "Who, then, when less than 100 courses were offered, would have imagined that Yale College students would have 2,000 courses to choose among a century later?" he said. (The full text of the President's remarks appears here.)

Also highlighting the weekend was a two-day symposium titled "Democratic Vistas, Global Perspectives," featuring talks by Yale experts and two renowned alumni -- Ernesto Zedillo '81 Ph.D., former president of Mexico, and Bill Clinton '73 J.D., former president of the United States.

On the evening of Oct. 5, more than 30,000 students, staff, faculty, alumni and New Haven neighbors packed the Yale Bowl for a Tercentennial Show on the theme "For God, For Country, For Yale ... Forever" featuring appearances by such renowned alumni as Tom Wolfe '57 Ph.D., who talked to "Elihu Yale" about the benefactor's gift, actor Sam Waterston '62 B.A. who gave a presentation honoring the many fields in which Yale alumni have excelled, and William Buckley Jr., who chatted with Big Bird of "Sesame Street" about "Y words." A performance by honorary degree recipient Paul Simon and a dazzling fireworks display also highlighted the show.

In welcoming the audience to the show, Levin noted: "We are a community that has endured 75 years longer than the United States of America. That it works so well and has endured so long is a small miracle. ... Tonight's celebration is a way of thanking you all for making Yale University the national treasure that it is."

The weekend topped a year of celebratory activities that began on Oct. 21, 2000 when the University sponsored "Opening Yale 300," its first-ever open house. Over 35,000 people from New Haven and beyond came to visit over 100 sites on campus, and to get a taste of the 300-pound cake in the shape of Old Campus that had been baked especially for the occasion.

Another highlight of the Tercentennial year was the Alumni Leadership Convocation held April 19-21, 2001. The event, on the theme "300 Years of Creativity and Discovery," featured over 50 programs led by distinguished faculty and alumni, including an informal talk by former U.S. President George H.W. Bush '48 B.A.

There have been scores of other events commemorating Yale's Tercentennial year. The William Clyde DeVane Lectures that began in January 2001 on the theme "Democratic Vistas" featured Yale experts examining the current condition and future prospects of democracy. (See story.) In the fall of 2001, the DeVane Lectures brought distinguished alumni from the School of Architecture back to campus to discuss Yale's contributions to that field. Alumni from the Graduate School talked about how the University had influenced their work in a series titled "In the Company of Scholars." Among the other lecture series that sponsored special events this year was the Tetelman Fellowship, which brought distinguished scientists and engineers to campus. In fact, nearly every school and department sponsored some special Tercentennial activity -- from exhibits to seminars to performances.

The year's other highlights included a visit by U.S. President George W. Bush '68 B.A., who was awarded an honorary degree at the University's 300th Commencement ceremonies in May 2001 (see story); a conference titled "Gender Matters," which brought distinguished Yale alumnae and other prominent women to the Law School to discuss the effect of gender issues on various fields today (see story). The latter event was sponsored by the Women Faculty Forum, which was founded to promote women at Yale during the Tercentennial and beyond.

Numerous books about Yale were published in conjunction with the Tercentennial, including a collection of presidential inaugural addresses; "The Yale Album," featuring photographs documenting the last century at Yale; and "The Green Guide: Yale University and New Haven."

The U.S. Postal Service and the United Nations also paid tribute to Yale's 300th anniversary. As part of its Historic Preservation series, the Postal Service issued a postcard with a stamp depicting Connecticut Hall, the oldest building on campus and in New Haven, and the United Nations' mail service developed a commemorative cancellation for use with the postcard, which featured an image of Harkness Tower and the Tercentennial logo.


Gala Weekend Concludes University's Tercentennial

Yale at 300

Alumni Presidents

President Levin Launches Joint Initiatives Between Yale and China During Trip

'Gender Matters' Looks at Women's Evolving Roles

Yale Experts Explore Interweaving Histories of Yale and U.S. in DeVane Series

Celebrating Yale's 300th Around the Nation and Around the World

Building Partnerships for a Stronger New Haven

Bush Sr. Recalls Challenges of the Oval Office

Yale Honors Latest 'Son of Eli' in White House

Clinton: U.S. Will Prevail Against Terrorism

Zedillo decries 'shameful trend of increasing polarization'

Alumni economists discuss U.S. economic prosperity

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