Yale University

Class News

Terry Holcombe '64 comments on the campus "counterrevolution"

November 1, 2015

Based on about 50 years on college campuses, mostly at Yale, I long ago came to the conclusion that real change starts with the students. The faculty and administration have just too much baggage to embrace truly new and controversial ideas.

We may well be seeing that phenomenon now. Marya and I went to the Dartmouth game (a local event now that we live in New Hampshire). We were surprised to see that at the end of warmups and before the kickoff about half the Yale team  (maybe 45 athletes) repaired to the end zone, formed a circle, held hands, knelt, and prayed. The same phenomenon was evident from the Dartmouth side.

Assuming this might be some subterfuge, I called Tom Beckett, the Yale athletic director, on my cell phone. He quickly replied that it was a common practice among the Ivy athletic teams these days. Respectful of the PC environment at Yale, he went on to emphasize that this was totally a student effort, not sanctioned or supported by the University. Go Bulldogs! It all reminded me of a recent comment by a Yale chaplain: "if you want to be a radical today, be openly religious."

In another development, the William Buckley program at Yale has experienced a major growth in support. They hold perhaps 20 to 30 events a year, from speakers, such as Aayan Hirsi Ali and Charles Krauthammer, to videos and other activities. Attendance, particularly from undergraduates, has grown enormously, and Q&A sessions are respectful and substantive.

Finally, now that the faculty have agreed to have the ROTC program back on campus, the programs have flourished. Thursday is dress day, and it is impossible to walk the campus without seeing men and women in full dress, including Marine combat fatigues, walking from class to class, completely embraced and respected by their classmates. I attended the commissioning ceremony just before graduation last spring in the John Lee amphitheater in Payne Whitney. One whole side of the seating was filled, President Salovey spoke, and the units marched in with flags waving, about half of them led by women undergraduates as the senior officers.

Terry Holcombe served as Yale's Vice President for Development and Alumni Affairs for the years 1982-1998. He planned and executed three "largest ever" capital campaigns at Yale, including the $1.7 billion program completed in l998. He has also co-chaired the Class of 1964 Reunion Gift Committee for his 35th, 40th, 45th, and 50th reunions.