Dear Berkeley Class of 2027:
With greatest pleasure, I welcome you to Berkeley College, the best residential college at Yale (other colleges may claim this title, but we know the truth!). As Head of College, I am responsible for our community’s intellectual, social, athletic, artistic, and cultural life. I work closely with several colleagues and students to make Berkeley College and hence, Yale, a special place. I am delighted to know that you will be joining us.
As you surely know by now, the residential college system is one of Yale’s trademark institutions. More than mere dormitories, the colleges are true communities where students and faculty live, eat, work, and socialize together. Your college and class affiliation (BK’26) will identify you throughout your Yale career and beyond. “What college are [were] you in?” is often one of the first questions in any Yale introduction. From this point forward, you may now proudly reply: “Berkeley!”
You have every reason to be proud. Beyond its fantastic location nestled on Cross Campus between Sterling Library and Bass Library, its classic Yale look, and comfortable housing, we Berkeleyites also take pride in having the best dining hall food, an enviable array of exciting college events, and, most importantly, a thriving, friendly community of spirited students and devoted staff. Your Old Campus housing in Lanman-Wright Hall is right across the street from the college, making it easy to access Berkeley’s resources, facilities, and activities. Look for numerous architectural references to Bishop Berkeley’s mitre around our beautiful college.
It is likely that some of you, in the midst of all the excitement of coming to Yale, may harbor some complicated anxieties about what lies ahead. This feeling is entirely common, healthy, and natural—and you should know that you are not alone. Please be sure to consult the letter from Dean Brianne Bilsky. She is devoted to your academic success and well-being, and you will quickly find her to be one of the most important and helpful people with whom to become acquainted at Yale.
The College Office staff members love Berkeley students, so please make a point to introduce yourself to them soon after you arrive. They handle many of the day-to-day matters around the college and can resolve all kinds of problems. Please consult the Berkeley FAQ document for useful move-in information and contact information for any other preliminary questions.
Berkeley College is your community. Students organize numerous Berkeley events such as our famous study breaks (e.g., Bishop Bash field day, Thunder Brunch – recognized by the Yale Herald as the best meal in Yale Dining, exclusive to Berkeley), dance parties, and movie nights. Berkeley College Council (BKCC) leads many of these activities, representing student input on a wide range of college business and expenditures. Separate from BKCC, individual Berkeley students organize poetry readings, a knitting club, artistic displays, musical performances, photography contests, and theatrical shows. Furthermore, any student is welcome to partner with me to invite inspiring College Tea guests to Berkeley. Popular guests in recent years include US Treasurer Rosie Rios, Time Magazine Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs, Miss America Nina Davuluri, actor John Cho, Proctor and Gamble former CEO John E. Pepper, Jr., global adventurer Roz Savage, musician/writer Patti Smith, and former President of the European Parliament Josep Borrell. Finally, intramural (IM) sports are an absolutely fun way to stay active and enhance college spirit; there are countless sports in which to play. For a glimpse of our IM spirit, check out this Youtube video produced by one of our recent alumnae. We were proud owners of the IM championship Tyng Cup just over five years ago. Your IM participation can help us regain what is rightfully ours!
You will enjoy an amazing time in Berkeley through participation in our events and college circles. To give us a sense of your preliminary interests, please fill out our BK pre-First-Year Survey at your earliest convenience. It should take only 5 minutes, and if you reply by June 30, you can enter your size for a free Berkeley t-shirt. Your answers are not binding, and in fact, common advice you’ll hear at Yale is “Try something new!” (But you’ll also hear “Don’t overcommit yourself.” Balance is everything!)
My active role in Berkeley life is facilitated by the fact that I live in the college together with my family. My wife, Lely Evans, is your Associate Head of College, by day a language educator, but skilled in music and many other artistic endeavors. We have a “cavachon” dog named Brie who is hypoallergenic and growls only when she hasn’t received the proper amount of petting. Beyond my administrative role as head of college, I direct a paleomagnetism laboratory in the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences, measuring magnetic properties of ancient rocks to reconstruct past positions of continents and supercontinents across the Earth’s surface. I also teach introductory Earth-science classes, and I always love seeing the familiar faces of Berkeleyites in that venue!
We are all looking forward to meeting you on Sunday, August 20, the day of First-Year Move-in. Please let your parents know about the Head of College Reception/Open House at 4 pm that day. Lely and I will host this event at our home, the Swensen House (Berkeley Head of College Residence), at 125 High Street, attached to BK North Court at the corner of High and Wall Streets. Attire can be moving-day casual. On Monday, August 21 at 5pm the College will host a cookout supper for First-Year students and First-Year Counselors in BK South Court. In the meantime, I encourage you to have a look at our website for all sorts of other useful information.
Again, I am most delighted to welcome you to Berkeley College, and I eagerly look forward to meeting you!
With best wishes,
David A.D. Evans, Ph.D.
John B. Madden Head of Berkeley College
Professor of Earth & Planetary Sciences