A Celebration of the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute
Completing the Challenges 11 December 1995
To mark the completion of endowment challenge grants awarded in l990 by the DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund and in 1991 by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Teachers Institute invited all the Institute's participants and donors to a celebration on December 11, 1995. (The program for the event lists all the individuals, foundations and corporations that contributed to the Institute s endowment between 1990 and 1995.)
At the event, Yale President Richard C. Levin announced the successful completion of the challenges and thanked the many individuals and organizations that assisted Yale in fulfilling the matching requirements. He said,
Since the time that I became President of Yale, Secretary Linda Lorimer and I have placed partnership with the New Haven community at the very top of our administration s agenda. We do this because we realize that Yale s fate is deeply interconnected with that of the city of which we're a part. We also do it because we believe in partnership.Former Yale President Howard R. Lamar then spoke of the Institute's history and recalled its founding. He said,
Long before any of the current cast of characters were engaged in this activity there was Jim Vivian laboring in the vineyards, and the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute was boldly leading the way to help make an organized difference in an area that should be the first concern to Yale as an educational institution, and that is of course the success of our city's schools. We re extraordinarily proud of the path- breaking work of the Teachers Institute which was on the cutting edge of recognizing the way in which schools and universities could form partnerships.
In 1977, based on our rewarding experience with the History Education Project, we made our first application to the National Endowment for the Humanities to create the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. In a meeting that Jim Vivian, Henry Turner and I had with acting President Hanna Gray, she offered, and I quote, "a good faith assurance to the NEH that Yale was committed to locating the funds to continue the work of the new Institute if NEH provided the grant to establish it." We were lucky that the NEH was as wise and perceptive then as it is now, for in 1978 we were able to announce the receipt of the first NEH grant for the Institute. It was not lost on anyone present that for the first time in anyone's memory a Yale President, in this case Bart Giamatti, the New Haven Mayor and the New Haven Superintendent of Schools made the announcement jointly.Institute Director James Vivian acknowledged the seminal $2 million challenge grant made by the DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund, and the President of the fund, M. Christine DeVita, said,
I close as Rick Levin did with a tribute to Jim Vivian whose dedication to the goal of finding a common ground between schools and universities has been unswerving. To him, as well as to the National Endowment and the DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund the Carolyn Foundation, we owe a very special thanks for working what I consider an educational miracle.
In the current economic climate, raising $4 million is no easy feat. But then again the Institute has never been known for doing easy things. For nearly twenty years, as you have heard, the Institute has recognized that one of the most fundamentally effective ways to improve public education is to work with the classroom teacher. This is a belief shared by the DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund whose mission is to improve educational and career opportunities for school-aged youth. Long before collaboration became a household word, Yale understood the benefits that could accrue both to itself as an institution and to its public school system in its city by bringing university professors and classroom teachers together to study and to plan more effective ways to improve the classroom teaching and learning. This has never been easy, but time has proven that it has been very effective, so effective that today the Yale New Haven Teachers Institute is considered a national model, and we at the fund are absolutely honored to be associated with such an outstanding program.In introducing the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Mr. Vivian acknowledged the continuous support the NEH provided the Institute from 1978 through 1994, which was indispensable as Yale worked to complete an endowment to continue the Institute's activity in perpetuity. Mr. Hackney said,
Nothing could be more hopeful that the Institute that we're celebrating here today. Nothing sees the future through its children in quite the same clearheaded way as the Institute. So I admire what the Yale-New Haven Institute has done here. As Christine has said, it is a model for the nation, and it comes as a model for other universities in what I think is critical activity of the future in getting higher education really linked in a more substantial way to primary and secondary education. I m very proud that the NEH was here with the Institute from the very beginning.Milton P. DeVane, who was Chairman of the Special Gifts Committee that solicited individual donors, said,
This is an example of a federal-local and public-private partnership that really does transcend ideology. It's a partnership of the sort that we need to see much more of if we re going to solve this nation s problems in the current political climate.
I'm also reminded of the biblical injunction: where there is no vision, the people perish. Without vision I think this society really is in difficulty. And it s only with investments in the future through our children, as represented by this Institute, that I take some hope. So I am very much indebted to Yale for taking this brave step. It really is a ground breaking trend setting I hope think to do.
A great deal of the support for the capital fund drive came from people with New Haven connections. This really suggests to me the quality that was on the mind of the people who participated and who contributed to this drive: A real commitment to New Haven and to Yale to make this project succeed. Moreover, a commitment to the kind of contribution that Yale can make best to the community in assistance to the educational process.The superintendent of the New Haven Public Schools, Reginald Mayo, and the Mayor of New Haven, John DeStefano, Jr., also spoke about the Institute and the significance of Yale completing the challenges. Superintendent Mayo said:
I certainly would like to thank the National endowment for the Humanities for work that you've done and the dollars that you have committed, as well as the DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest fund., we want to thank you on behalf of all of the teachers and students in New Haven.Mayor DeStefano said,
In recent years collaborative efforts [with the Institute] have included New Haven curriculum staff participating in the selection of appropriate units. One of the things that we've done since I've been Superintendent, is to take these units actually and to make sure that all of the teachers in our school district have them. One of the other things that we tried last summer was to take many of the Fellows in the Institute and actually do a summer program with their students, using many of the units that have been developed over the years. So that was a first last summer and it worked out very, very well, and I'm hoping that we can institutionalize it for our young people in the school district. Recent projects have included team projects and I want to say that again, team projects and that's something new with an emphasis on school change. That's the thing that Jim and I have been talking about more. How can the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute have more of an impact on the school reform that we're going for.
I think this illustrates that uniqueness and creativity of the relationship between university and community. Occasionally and increasingly [President Levin and I] find intersections in our institutional lives where we do spectacular things, and this is one of them. The Institute recognizes that at the heart of what we do in our schools is the act of teaching, and that important to supporting that act are our teachers themselves. With good teachers we can't have successful students, and the Institute recognizes that. are our teachers themselves. Without good teachers we can't have successful students, and the Institute recognizes that.As the Institute looks to the future, it will work to increase the endowment to $5 million or more in the humanities, and to secure an additional $2 million to provide the Institute s work in the sciences a similar financial stability.