Yale kicked off the public phase of “For Humanity,” a groundbreaking campaign to engage the Yale community and raise financial support for the university’s academic mission, with a spirited Oct. 2 broadcast from the Yale Schwarzman Center.
Actor and writer Moses Ingram ’19 CDR, known for “The Tragedy of MacBeth” and “The Queen’s Gambit,” delivered the welcome message for the virtual event and introduced a global roll call of alumni and friends. Yalies from Hawaii, Hong Kong, London, Beijing, Texas, Kenya, Hawaii, Italy, New York, Beirut, Argentina, Russia, and Maine greeted guests and answered the question “What are you for?” — a key theme of the campaign.
As the campaign’s name and logo appeared against a deep blue backdrop in the refurbished Commons, Yale President Peter Salovey ’86 Ph.D. shared his goals for the campaign and emphasized the university’s ambitions, recognizing Yale’s special role in driving progress and innovation for society.
“Simply put, I am guided by Yale’s mission of ‘improving the world today and for future generations.’ That mission demands that we not only create knowledge but harness it to improve lives,” Salovey said. “Through this campaign, we will provide vital support for Yale faculty, students, and staff who are leading work that has the potential to transform society, deepen human understanding, and open doors to greater prosperity and well-being for millions.”
Over the course of the three-hour broadcast, a parade of notable alumni, faculty, students, and friends followed President Salovey in defining Yale’s goals for advancing science, scholarship, leadership, and collaboration for the good of humanity.
Among the academic fields actively shaping the future, Salovey cited climate science, computer science and data science, and biomedical research into human cognition and the role of inflammation in disease. He also stressed the importance of Yale’s longstanding strengths in humanistic fields. “Scholars in the arts and humanities,” he said, “teach us that our world is not black and white and help us understand motives behind behaviors, histories behind policies, and driving forces behind evolutions and revolutions in society.”
The $7 billion campaign also places special emphasis on expanded funding for student support across Yale College and the graduate and professional schools.
“This campaign is not about giving to Yale for Yale’s sake,” said Donna Dubinsky ’77, one of five campaign co-chairs. “The point of this campaign is to make change in the world. The faculty, students, and staff are here to do important work and to become the next generation of leaders. And we are here to enable that work.”
Throughout Saturday’s program, videos, live faculty forums, and conversations between students and alumni highlighted Yale’s exciting work and brought campaign themes to life. Emcees Reed Northrup and Sola Fadiran, fourth-year students in the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale, guided participants through the virtual experience. Alumna and Academy Award-nominated actress Angela Bassett ’80, ’83 M.F.A. narrated the event’s anthem video, which featured a musical score composed by David M. Kurtz ’80 M.M. and performed by members of the Philharmonia Orchestra of Yale, with School of Music Dean Robert Blocker on piano.
Capping the celebration was a performance by the globally renowned a cappella pop group Pentatonix, featuring Kevin Olusola ’10, who gave a “shout out to all the Morsels” of Morse College.
Suzanne Gignilliat ’80, who attended the event from her home in Chicago, described the launch as truly memorable: “This online event was a superb way for Yale to showcase the work that the faculty is doing to address issues that I care about, especially in the area of climate change. The presentations were fascinating.”
Guests were able to use interactive features within the custom-built event platform to tailor their experiences, choosing from a rich menu of virtual tours and live talks. Participants came together for key program segments and then dispersed to attend forums led by faculty members, alumni, and students. Between programs, a virtual “Global Commons” provided a digital space for guests to mingle.
“This was a great use of technology to create a sense of community and participation,” said Rahul Prasad ’87 Ph.D., who logged into the event from California. “Connecting with fellow Yalies and hearing first-hand from Yale’s leadership really got me excited about the potential of this campaign to live up to its name and make a difference for humanity.”
Speaking after the launch, Joan O’Neill, vice president for alumni affairs and development, described “For Humanity” as Yale’s most ambitious campaign to date.
“This is a comprehensive campaign to strengthen the foundations of Yale in a way that raises our ability to make the world a better place,” she said. “Everyone has a stake in this.”
In the years preceding the public launch of “For Humanity,” the university engaged in a “quiet phase” of fundraising to build the campaign’s foundation. Alumni, parents, and friends contributed more than $3.5 billion — including more than $1 billion in fiscal 2020–2021 alone, Yale’s highest annual giving total ever.
“This nucleus fund, which includes gifts of all sizes, puts us on track to meet our campaign goal by 2026, and I am deeply grateful to everyone who has already contributed to make our campaign a success,” O’Neill said.
The event website offers a recording of the campaign launch, virtual tours of campus spaces, an opportunity to network with other registered participants, fun social media filters, and more: to access the full broadcast and other on-demand content, register at the campaign events website.