Words on accepting appointment as Yale’s 23rd president

In one of my interviews, a presidential search committee member asked, “What kind of Yale do you imagine?” I answered with four phrases: a more unified Yale, a more innovative Yale, a more accessible Yale, and a more excellent Yale. These are not “motherhood and apple-pie” slogans.

As we move forward, planning together the next decades of this 311-year-old institution, I am eager for us to consider, as a community, a more unified campus, allowing us to move beyond a confederation of great programs, departments, and schools and working together in the service of a larger, more interconnected Yale.

As an innovator, Yale has been a pioneer for all of higher education. We look back with pride on the Yale Reports of 1828, on the fact that Yale awarded the first doctorates in North America, conferred the first PhD granted to an African American, and welcomed the first person from China to benefit from an American college education. We established the country’s first university-based art gallery and introduced the first graduate program in nursing. These are profound accomplishments, but we cannot rest on the legacy of our past. The question for us now is how to find and motivate the next innovations for the academy in general and Yale in particular.

Accessibility is multidimensional: educational opportunities must be available to all those who are deserving. At the same time, we must make our educational and scholarly work and the treasures of our collections available to the world.

And excellence is perhaps the most demanding of the four themes, because we must work to make all features of this place fitting of an outstanding university. We must invest in ways that support excellence, and recognize that one of the roads to excellence is through further diversity in our faculty, staff, and students.