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Larry Crutcher '64 reports on the 2015 AYA Assembly

Here are two related items — Larry Crutcher's report on the AYA Assembly and, below Larry's report, an AYA video introduced at that Assembly.

Larry Crutcher

The 2015 Association of Yale Alumni (AYA) Assembly was a two-day affair, November 19-21, the first day devoted to the School of Public Health and the second day to a mix of items including a report on campus sexual misconduct, an update from Pres. Salovey and Dean Holloway on diversity and free speech,  plus the usual AYA housekeeping items.

The School of Public Health is 100 years old in 2015, having been founded by a bacteriologist in a period of epidemics.  Housed in the Medical School campus, the School has full-time faculty of 121, about 312 Masters candidates, and 64 PhD candidates.  71% are women. Its graduates leave in roughly equal measures for business, government, NGOs, further study, and university research. The School’s budget is $68 million. In the panoply of Yale’s graduate schools, SPH is not well-known outside its field.

The School’s mission is, broadly, to improve global public health.  Recently it has worked extensively on HIV/Aids and Ebola, with a geographic focus on West Africa.  Many, if not most, of its projects are outside the United States.  The keynote speaker, Paul Singer, is a Canadian whose NGO job is to figure out where to commit grants. Among his many topics was a success story in Africa involving a $1 procedure to scrape cataracts and restore vision, a procedure that would cost well over $100 in the U.S.  He commented on the various medical, insurance and pharmacological forces in the developed world which would not welcome a $1 procedure.

Five students gave reports on their theses.

A woman from Colorado spoke passionately about the problems of legalized marijuana, especially food-based. The toxins in food-based marijuana are about 10 times stronger than smoke-based, and it takes about 20-30 minutes to take effect.  If you eat a marijuana cookie, and nothing seems to happen, then you eat another. A half-hour later, you experience about 20 times the effect of a joint.   

A man from India repeated his Khushi (“happy”) Baby story from last year’s AYA on entrepreneurialism.  He has raised $350,000 to deploy a necklace device which reminds parents in rural India that it’s time for a vaccination.

A PhD candidate spoke to the problems of in-hospital efficiencies.

A retired Air Force major, with five tours in Afghanistan, spoke about the historic overloading of cargo ships. In a cynical duet, English insurers preferred to compensate owners for ships lost at sea, because the sailors’ lives were so valueless, rather than lose underwriting income. The owners didn’t care about their sailors’ lives, and if the overloaded ships made it through, they got extra profits. It was a win-win situation. Now all cargo ships have a marking on the side, indicating when they are fully loaded.

A woman who worked in the Ebola crisis in Liberia told her story.

There were ten breakout panels in the afternoon, covering such topics as the vaccination controversy, old age and society (when to pull your parents’ driving licenses), etc.  The School offered various tours, of its library, a walking tour in New Haven to public clinics, and so forth. The final session was a talk by Marta Moret (Salovey’s wife) about “What you can do to improve public health.”

The first evening featured the Yale Medal awards dinner, at which two of ‘64’s medalists, Terry Holcombe and Chris Getman, were in attendance.  This was the first awards dinner in the newly re-named Schwarzman Commons, which otherwise appeared pretty much like the old Commons.

The second day was led off with a lawyerly presentation by Deputy Provost Stephanie Spangler on sexual misconduct on campus. Surveys were conducted, government reporting has commenced, and awareness has been heightened.  28% of Yale College women will have reported some event by the time they are seniors; 8% of the men.  Her presentation began with the definition of sexual misconduct, followed by a listing of the ample resources to which an aggrieved person can turn. Sections of her talk dealt with prevention, and the appropriate response. She handed out a pamphlet whose appendix included eight pages describing the various laws and statutes which the University must conform to.  Interestingly, the rate of reported misconduct is far, far lower in the graduate schools, the presumption being that women who complain may be adversely affecting their future careers by doing so. There is a possibility of fewer alcohol-related events in graduate school compared to the college.

The morning proceeded with the usual AYA list: of seminars, class leadership, club leadership, SIG leadership, graduate and professional school alumni activities, etc.

The end of the morning featured a last-minute scheduled presentation by Pres. Salovey and Dean Holloway on “the recent events.”  I prefer not to misreport or to show bias in recounting what they said, so I’ll keep it very brief. 

Salovey separated the topics of free speech from diversity, stating that free speech is absolutely unchallenged on campus, will always remain so, and has little if anything to do with diversity.  He also went to some length, animatedly, to criticize the media, from YouTube to the Washington Post, for misquoting him (“we have failed you”) and getting the story wrong. He repeated his announcement of substantial new funding ($5 million right away) in support of various diversity causes. He offered an offhand support for the Silliman master and his wife.

Jonathan Holloway gave a markedly different presentation, noting the dichotomy of his own situation, an instructor in such topics as Malcom X and Eldridge Cleaver on the one hand, and the Dean of Yale College representing all groups on the other. He added that he agreed that Erica Christakis had the right to say what she did, but he didn’t agree with what she said.

I attended a session on the AYA executive-director search committee process.  It’s a drawn out affair. Mark Dahlhopf left the AYA earlier this year. A committee was formed over the summer, with a search consultant hired. They hope to winnow a list down to a small number of choices to present to Salovey, whose decision it is, by March 2016. The AYA reports to Joan O’Neill, the development officer, a fairly new situation following the retirement of Linda Lorimer.  We in ’64 tend to think of the AYA as the resource that helps with reunions, or provides a room for our meetings. Class activities, however, represent but a fraction of what the AYA does. Local clubs, Shared Interest Groups, YaleGALE, A Day of Service, Alumni Service Core, direct mentoring … the list goes on and on. The new director will need to handle the broad portfolio, and quite likely even broader in the future as the AYA mission expands.

Larry Crutcher is the representative of the Class of 1964 to the AYA, and is a member of the Class Council. He was also the editor of our 50th Reunion Class Book.

Video: "Inspired by Yale"

The Yale alumni association released a new video, first screened to delegates at the 2015 annual alumni assembly and embedded below, that shows some of the highlights of alumni relations. The script for the video’s narration is displayed below the video.

Some think Yale and its alumni relations are frozen artifacts from the past.

In fact, the only thing frozen about Yale and its alumni are the lyrics of award-winning songs or the ice on which the hockey team skates to victory in front of alumni fans.

There’s a new dawn in alumni relations as more graduates join together — in New Haven, online, and around the world.

Today’s alumni sustain a dynamic tradition of service and engagement that is innovative and inclusive.

A quick look at a few highlights of the last year or so shows how today’s alumni relations are inspired by Yale.

More alumni returning to campus

Over 200 years of alumni activity — the longest of any American university — began in 1792 with the election of the class officers and evolved into tour five-year system of class reunions.

Reunions today are more vibrant than ever, setting new records in 2015 for overall attendance. More than 7,000 graduates, family, and friends returned for Yale College reunions in the spring of 2015.

Young alumni now participate as much or more than older generations. More than 55% of the Yale College Class of 2010 came to their first five-year reunion.

In the spirit of a more unified Yale, nursing school alumni took part in faculty talks and campus tours organized for the 2015 Yale College reunions.

Reunions of the various professional schools are livelier than ever, too. From SOM reunions in the new Evans Hall to medicine, nursing, law, divinity, public health, and forestry and environmental studies, schools across campus welcome their alumni home each year.

Alumni are always innovating. The Yale College classes of 1971, ‘72, and ‘73, the first with women, were pioneers again in October 2015 by holding Yale’s first cluster reunion.

Alumni return for much more than reunions. In one of the newest alumni ventures, Yale graduates are coming back to campus to share their wisdom and talents with current students through Careers, Life, & Yale. Thinking about “where do I go from Yale,” students across campus have learned with alumni about careers focused on areas such as sustainability and the environment, health and medicine, public service and social entrepreneurship, and the humanities.

More alumni connecting at home

Beyond campus, the dynamic tradition of hometown Yale alumni groups is thriving. The Cincinnati Yale Club’s sesquicentennial in 2014 celebrated Yale’s legacy of the nation’s longest-running regional alumni associations.

More than 160 Yale alumni groups now serve graduates in communities across the United States and nearly 40 other countries.

They welcome new alumni moving into their communities, support students from their areas coming to Yale, and gather to network, celebrate, and socialize.

Local alumni relations remain strong in major cities and in communities of all sizes. New York alumni created Foodtober, a month-long festival of culinary celebration and education, while alumni in Oregon recently held a symposium on healthcare beyond Obamacare. These are just two examples of new local programming engaging graduates.

More alumni joining shared identity and interest groups (SIGs)

Complementing the strength of classes and clubs, there has been a tremendous growth in shared identity and interest groups fueling the alumni relations renaissance.

Alumni have made Yale’s tradition of innovation their own, with 75 total SIGs connecting graduates around identity, vocation, student affinity, or athletics, including 30 groups formed in the last five years.

From the Yale Black Alumni Association’s celebration of the Afro-American Cultural Center’s 45th anniversary to the inaugural Yale Veterans Summit, the Yale Environmental Sustainability Summit, and scores of other events, alumni are engaged in new ways.

YaleWomen have joined with the Women’s Faculty Forum to examine gender rules; gay and lesbian alumni celebrated marriage equality; Arab alumni held a leadership summit in Dubai; and YaleTech alumni have connected in San Francisco, New York, London, and Shanghai.

More alumni learning for life

The passion for learning and ideas is contagious at Yale, and it continues with graduates and with the alumni association’s support for lifelong learning.

Yale Educational Travel welcomed its most participants in a decade during the 2015 academic year, with immersive education across the globe.

The new Yale Alumni College program continues to grow, with 17 seminars held in 2015 across six different sites, and back on campus, the Yale for Life residential seminars each June allow alumni to become students again.

More alumni uniting in service

Yale was America’s first institution of higher education to explicitly inscribe service to society in its charter. Yale alumni volunteers and the alumni association staff carry forth that tradition of innovation for impact.

The most recent Yale Day of Service saw more than 4,000 alumni, family, and friends connect in service at 240 sites in 38 U.S. states and 18 other countries.

The Yale Alumni Service Corps returned to Kakaleo, India in 2015, the 17th trip in a program that has engaged communities in the United States and seven other countries.

Partnering with the admissions office, alumni association volunteers led the first-ever Yale Alumni Schools Committee Ambassadors delegation, inspiring high school student in Macedonia, Albania, and Bosnia about the power of a liberal arts education.

The Yale Global Alumni Leadership Exchange sent its 10th delegation to share insights on alumni leadership with international universities.

More alumni moving forward

In New Haven, online, and around the world, more alumni are connecting with Yale and with each other than ever before.

Alumni volunteer leaders and the alumni association staff have renewed Yale’s dynamic tradition of class reunions, local clubs, shared interest and identity groups, lifelong learning, and service to the world.

Whoever they are, wherever they are, whatever their interests, more and more alumni are engaged in the alumni association’s inclusive and innovative programs, inspired by Yale.