The Yale Alumni Association Board of Governors assembled this past weekend for the final time in the 2018-19 academic year, holding a series of committee meetings to discuss past and upcoming events and programs as well as full-group sessions to hear from members of the university community.
Amid that busy schedule, the YAA took time to honor two professors for their contributions to alumni, bid a fond farewell to the eight members cycling off the board, and hold a Yale Day of Service event.
“The last meeting of the school year is always one of the busiest, and this was no exception,” said YAA Chair Nancy Stratford ’77. “There is always much to be done as one set of committee chairs wrap up their work for the year and begin the transition to the next. But it is also a time of celebration and a chance to recognize our fantastic faculty volunteers during the Lamar Awards ceremony and all the alumni leaders who give so selflessly of their time.”
The YAA board meets four times per year, generally over two days. One day is reserved for committee updates, with the other providing time for the board to meet in full session. This year, topics for Friday’s committee meetings included mentoring – both alumni to alumni and alumni to students – volunteer leadership, graduate and professional school engagement, shared interest groups, and the 2019 Yale Medal.
Saturday was reserved for an all-board session featuring the annual update from President Peter Salovey ’86 PhD and additional presentations by Athletic Director Vicky Chun, Vice President for Alumni Affairs and Development Joan O’Neill, and Vice President for Student Life Kimberly Goff-Crews ’83, ’86 JD.
This session, the board logged some extra time in the Elm City to support a pair of Thursday night events and the Yale Day of Service project Saturday afternoon.
Thursday evening featured a Careers, Life, and Yale panel held at Rosenfeld Hall, “Tasteful Innovating – A Sampling of Yale Food Entrepreneurs” with Robin Schaffer ’79 (Four Flours), Ben Weiss ’20 (Havenly), Eric Wenzel ’04 (Wenzel), Ariana Yuen ’19 MBA (Forested Foods), and Yong Zhao ’08 MESc, ’15 MPhil (Junzi) that drew more than 40 attendees. Held simultaneously was a “G&P Destination Night” for soon-to-be graduates of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and Yale’s professional schools – an opportunity for them to meet alumni and fellow graduates to talk about alumni life and where they will be living after graduation. That event drew upwards of 80 Yalies to Rose Alumni House, home to the YAA.
Saturday afternoon, following the plenary session, 24 members of the board joined five YAA staff members for a Day of Service project at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. The project featured the YAA members working alongside the Peabody’s Sci.Corps students to create tablets and seals that will be given to visiting New Haven public school students throughout the year.
Yale Day of Service will officially be celebrated on May 11, though many service projects have already begun. Registration is now open on the Day of Service website.
“Events like our panel with food entrepreneurs, Destination Night, and Yale Day of Service show the variety of what we do as an association and spotlight the remarkable alumni that compose our ranks,” said YAA Executive Director Weili Cheng ’77. “These events also highlight the key role of alumni volunteers in bringing these programs to life.”
In addition to committee meetings, Friday was dedicated to celebrating volunteers. That started with Friday’s Lamar Awards luncheon, which honored two professors who have contributed their time and expertise to the alumni community. Psychology Professor Alan Kazdin and History Professor Jay Winter were honored with this year’s Lamar Awards, presented annually to “faculty who have made significant contributions to alumni programs and demonstrated exemplary leadership for alumni relations.”
“Heaven for a professor is to lecture to a Yale alumni audience,” Kazdin said during the luncheon, which was held at the Union League Cafe. “To receive an award for something you are honored to be asked to do is awkward but quite a privilege.”
That spirit carried into Friday night’s dinner, where the departing board members were recognized for their years of board service. Those acknowledged were Susan Ball ’78 PhD, Paul Broholm ’78, Renata Cesar ’79, Pam Farr ’78 MBA, Serena Flaherty ’99, ’06 MSN, Lauren Graham ’13 MEM, Tom Opladen ’66, and Anthony Sabatelli ’81 MS, ’84 PhD.
“We’re always sad to see such fantastic leaders complete their time on the board, but we’re thankful that they will continue on as important and valued volunteers,” Stratford said. “Above all, we want to express our admiration for their service and their contributions while board members. These eight amazing alumni have been an integral part of driving our programming and initiatives, work that has served our alumni community so well and so meaningfully.”
The YAA Board of Governors next assembles in September 2019 with its new members and a renewed focus on the academic year ahead.