New Haven and Yale: Dreaming New Worlds Together

John DeStefano Jr., outgoing mayor of New Haven, and Richard Levin, outgoing president of Yale University, reflect on their 20-year partnership to knit together university and city. At the close of the DeStefano-Levin era, we ask: What is the legacy of this extraordinary partnership? What will it mean for New Haven’s future? Moderated by Douglas Rae, Richard S. Ely Professor of Management & Professor of Political Science.

John DeStefano, Jr. John DeStefano, Jr. was sworn in as the 49th Mayor of New Haven on January 1, 1994. He is serving his 10th term in office. Mayor DeStefano has worked hard and successfully to strengthen the academic achievement of public school students, to build a vibrant mixed use city center, a competitive economic base, strong neighborhoods and a community culture of traditional values and social tolerance.

During Mayor DeStefano’s tenure virtually every public school has been rebuilt under the $1.5 billion Citywide School Construction Program. Key features of the school construction program have supported universal pre-k services, the largest inter-district enrollment and magnet school program in the State, college level lab and technology facilities and great architecture. In 2009, the Mayor and school board, of which he is a member and the appointing authority, announced the School Change Initiative. Supported by a ground breaking agreement with the New Haven Federation of Teachers, the City has launched a reform initiative whose key strategies are a portfolio approach to school management, a focus on teacher talent through a progressive teacher evaluation construct and a commitment to see that every child has the aspiration and is prepared for and able to complete college.

Since taking office in 1994 the City center has undergone a dramatic transformation into a mixed use community of some 12,000 residents. Anchored by the Mayor’s support of University, Hospital and medical center expansion, New Haven has emerged as a national center of life and bio science businesses. Downtown commercial, residential and retail occupancies stand at record lows. In 2010 the US Department of Transportation announced funding of the Downtown Crossing project which will remove a 1960’s era limited express highway that has divided the central business district from the City’s principal rail station and rapidly growing medical research, clinical and office district. The project will double the size of the downtown.

Neighborhoods have been strengthened as the city has managed housing stock to mixed income and use models, promoted commercial corridors, street smart infrastructure and public improvements. The City has decentralized police management districts, promoted the use of neighborhood based collaborations and a robust civic culture. That civic culture has resulted in a welcoming and inclusive community through initiatives such as the Elm City Resident Card that provides identification cards and access to public services for all residents of the City. Under the Mayor’s leadership, the City has sponsored the organization and capitalization of a community development bank whose mission supports the unbanked and promotes financial literacy. New Haven boasts an incredibly vibrant culture of economic and social entrepreneurship.

Mayor DeStefano has served as the President of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and the National League of Cities, the oldest and largest organization representing America’s cities and towns. During his tenure New Haven has been named an ‘All America City’ three times.

Mayor DeStefano is the son of a New Haven police officer and a lifelong City resident. John and his wife Kathy DeStefano met at the University of Connecticut as undergraduates, where he also earned a Masters in Public Administration. Kathy is a first grade teacher and they are the parents of two sons.

Richard C. Levin Richard C. Levin, Frederick William Beinecke Professor of Economics, has been Yale’s President since 1993. He received his B.A. from Stanford University in 1968 and studied politics and philosophy at Oxford University, where he earned a B.Litt. degree. He received his Ph.D. from Yale in 1974 and joined the Yale faculty. Before becoming president, he chaired the economics department and served as dean of Yale’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. In August, Mr. Levin announced that he will step down as President of the University at the end of the current academic year, his twentieth year of service.

Exciting ventures to improve the University locally, nationally, and internationally have been a hallmark of Mr. Levin’s presidency. Close to home, his goals have included improving the campus infrastructure, and the University has invested over $5 billion in the renovation and construction of its facilities. Strengthening connections to the City of New Haven has led to innovative partnerships that have advanced economic development and encouraged home ownership in the City. In fall 2010, Yale joined with the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven and the City to announce New Haven Promise, a visionary scholarship and support program for city residents who graduate from a public school in the city and attend college in Connecticut. In mid-June 2007, the University purchased the Bayer HealthCare complex, a property with over 500,000 square feet of state-of-the-art research space, as well as office buildings, warehouses and other facilities.

Launching and enhancing international initiatives has been another priority. All Yale undergraduates now have the opportunity to study or participate in internships abroad. Several years ago, need-based financial aid became available for all international students in Yale College as it has been for U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Mr. Levin has established numerous educational and research partnerships in China and India. On March 31, 2011, the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Yale announced that Yale-NUS College would be established in Singapore, providing a new model of liberal arts education for Asia.

Mr. Levin is recognized as an advocate and leader of the role of higher education in local and global sustainable development. He established an Office of Sustainability in 2005, and that year endorsed an aggressive greenhouse gas reduction target and strategy for the University.

Mr. Levin serves on President Obama’s Council of Advisors for Science and Technology. He is a trustee of the Hewlett Foundation, a director of ClimateWorks, American Express, and C3, and a member of the National Committee on United States-China Relations. He served on a bipartisan commission to recommend improvements in the nation’s intelligence capabilities and he co-chaired a major review of the nation’s patent system for the National Academy of Sciences. President Levin holds honorary degrees from Harvard, Princeton, Oxford, Peking, Tokyo, and Waseda universities and Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Richard Levin and his wife, Jane, have lived in New Haven throughout their more than 40 years at Yale. They have four children and seven grandchildren.

Douglas Rae (moderator) Douglas Rae is a student of the interface between business and government. He has served on the Yale faculty since 1967, chairing the political science department during the 1980s. He took public service leave in 1990 and 1991 to serve as chief administrative officer of New Haven during a crisis period. He has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, was a fellow of Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, a fellow of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, and has received numerous honors and prizes for his research. He has consulted widely and variously to the parliaments of Spain, Italy, & the Netherlands Antilles, select corporate leaders, to numerous American cities and universities, and to the BBC. At Yale, he has held leadership positions and board memberships with the University Library, Yale University Press, the Institution for Social and Policy Studies, the Division of Social Sciences, the Department of Athletics, and Yale SOM. In 2010, Mr. Rae was awarded the Mory's Cup in recognition of his service to Yale.

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