There are few things as important as the need to feel connected, to bond with others over common interests, beliefs, and experiences. The pandemic has made this harder than ever before, often separating us from those we love and causing what seems like constant interruptions in our lives.
At the start of a new year and a new semester, I want to take the opportunity to wish you the very best for 2022, with hopes that you and yours are safe and well and to assure you of your belonging in this special Yale community that we share. Since our founding 50 years ago (yes, 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the Yale Alumni Association!) and particularly in the last few years, we at the YAA have endeavored to connect you with each other and with the university, establishing, re-establishing, creating, and reinforcing the bonds you first formed as students and that will never leave you. We hope to continue do so in this new year and invite you to pursue YAA and Yale alumni programs and events of interest.
The great news is that so many of you have already done so, and in the process, have found and connected with each other. Whether it’s through Yale College class events, your regional club, a common shared interest, a service project, an online class or course, or mentorship, you have fostered the connections that stand as a hallmark of the Yale experience.
How do we know this to be true? We have data! In 2021, we listed nearly 800 events on our online calendar, ensuring that there was an event or program that suits nearly all of us. Our weekly events newsletter was opened by more than 85,000 of you. Our monthly e-newsletter, YAA News, has an open rate that regularly exceeds industry standards, with more than 50,000 of you checking in with us each month. We have more than 350 groups encompassing classes, regional clubs, shared interest groups, and more. Our social media channels continue to grow; we had nearly 3 million impressions across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in 2021 and we gained more than 4,000 followers, including more than 3,000 on Instagram alone. And we had more than 250,000 visits to this website.
Anecdotally, I can vouch for this as well. I’ve heard from so many of you in the past year who have told me about reconnecting with dear friends and classmates during the pandemic, about events that we have organized or facilitated, and what your classes, regional clubs, and interest groups have planned that have meant so much to you. Of Yale Alumni Academy and Yale Alumni College classes and courses you have taken that have opened your eyes and led to new friendships. Of your wonderful, heartwarming stories of connection and mentoring on Cross Campus. Of experiences at virtual reunions and Assembly and Convocation.
This, of course, does not mean our work is done. We will continue to grow and expand our efforts as we move into the new year, advancing our core values of openness, inclusion, relevance, impact, and collaboration, and celebrating the diversity – and the strength born from that diversity – of you, our remarkable alumni. In doing so, we hope to further the connections that tie us together as alums, classmates, and friends.
For most, your time at Yale is brief – possibly one year, often four, and perhaps more for those who pursue multiple degrees or advanced study. But as I like to say, there is a magic to the Yale experience. Yale lives with us after we leave the campus – in our memories and in each other. And even when disrupted by pandemic, it endures, and we at the YAA are here to help make sure that you always have a place in the Yale community.
Yours, with warm wishes for a happy new year!
P.S.: Every year I adopt a New Year’s resolution of sorts. In recent years, my resolution has been to be more mindful and to focus on and enjoy the present. For 2022, I have decided to adopt an attitude of gratitude. I will count my blessings to counter the negativity and uncertainty presented by the pandemic. What resolution(s) have you adopted for 2022? Let me know!