I want to start this note by thanking all of you for your support of the university, students, faculty, staff, and each other during this tumultuous time. COVID-19 has led to unprecedented changes on campus, and while we work to ensure the safety of the entire Yale community, knowing we have the support of the alumni family is particularly heartening.
With this communication, I want to provide updates and answers to as many questions as I can that have been coming in to our (virtual) office.
As I’m sure most of you know by now, Yale has moved the remainder of the spring semester to online learning. And I hope you’ve seen the communication President Salovey sent yesterday to the entire Yale community, including students, Yale College parents, faculty, staff, and alumni.
The decisions made to this point have been exercised to ensure, first and foremost, the health and welfare of our students and those on campus. Yale is uniquely designed to bring people together – in classrooms, in dorms, and in communities throughout the world – which is precisely the kind of contact we need to avoid at this time.
The biggest challenge, then, is maintaining the sense of community that makes Yale so remarkable at a time of social distancing. To that end, I encourage you to check in with your Yale network, and where you have the opportunity to do so, volunteer to help out.
Student Welfare and How You Can Help
Speaking to the generosity of spirit that I so love about Yalies, it probably comes as no surprise to you that the leading inquiry we have received thus far pertains to the welfare of the students – and next, what you can do to help. Please know that the university is looking after each and every student. Their deans and heads of college have been in touch with them to work out solutions to a wide array of situations, and Yale is paying for travel home for all Yale College students on financial aid and for student health care to be delivered well beyond our campus’ health center.
In terms of how you can help: If you are able and do want to contribute, please consider making a gift to the President’s Emergency Fund for Students, which will assist students across all of Yale’s schools – Yale College, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and Yale’s 12 professional schools – as they deal with these unexpected circumstances. You can also contribute to Safety Net, which provides emergency funding for Yale College students on financial aid.
Efforts to Combat COVID-19
While our primary administrative focus has been caring for the campus community, our role as one of the world’s leading research universities allows Yale to combat the novel coronavirus in practical ways as well. Per Nancy Brown ’81, dean of the Yale School of Medicine: “Yale faculty have been featured on news programs, in articles, on social media, and as authors of op-ed pieces about the pandemic. They are lending thought leadership to such topics as minimizing the risk of transmission, mitigating outbreaks among older adults and other vulnerable populations, reducing anxiety about the pandemic, what parents should know about COVID-19, pregnancy-related COVID guidance, and forecasting the impact of the virus.”
Moreover, Yale experts are hard at work devising better systems for testing, for diagnosis, and also on eventual treatments and vaccines to combat COVID-19. This work will continue, and Yale will do everything it can to support these efforts.
Events and Reunions
As of now, Yale and the YAA have canceled or postponed all on-campus events through April and are assessing events for May and beyond. As you might imagine, this has been a hectic time, with a number of decisions to be made in short order and contingency plans being put in place to accommodate displaced students, faculty, and staff. But please know that we are actively having discussions involving Yale College Reunions and hope to reach a decision soon. As soon as we do, we’ll communicate that to everyone affected.
In the meantime, for all updates on this is rapidly evolving situation, I encourage you to go to the university’s COVID-19 information page, which houses all university coronavirus communications and provides additional updates, and to subscribe to Yale Today to follow the daily developments. Yale College, the Graduate School for Arts and Sciences, and many of our professional schools also have posted FAQs and details of particular relevance to their communities, if you are seeking additional information.
In closing, I want to thank you again for standing by Yale and with our students during this difficult time. Take care of yourselves and look after each other. We will get through this together, with light and truth shining brightly on better days ahead.
Weili Cheng '77
Executive Director, Yale Alumni Association