Ezra Stiles College

Ezra Stiles College is one of the fourteen residential colleges at Yale University, built in 1961 and designed by Eero Saarinen.[1] It is often simply called "Stiles," despite an early-1990s crusade by then-master Traugott Lawler to preserve the use of the full name in everyday speech.[citation needed] The College is named after Ezra Stiles, the seventh President of Yale. Architecturally, it is known for its lack of right angles between walls in the living areas. It sits next to Morse College.

Ezra Stiles College
Residential college at Yale University
Yale University
Coat of arms of Ezra Stiles College
Location19 Tower Parkway
Coordinates41°18′45″N 72°55′50″W / 41.3125°N 72.9306°W / 41.3125; -72.9306Coordinates: 41°18′45″N 72°55′50″W / 41.3125°N 72.9306°W / 41.3125; -72.9306
Named forEzra Stiles
ColorsBlack, Gold
Sister collegeCurrier House, Harvard
Queens' College, Cambridge
HeadAlicia Schmidt Camacho
DeanMurphy Temple
Undergraduates478 (2013-2014)
MascotA. Bartlett Giamatti Memorial Moose


In his report on the 1955-56 academic year, Yale President A. Whitney Griswold announced his intention to add at least one residential college to Yale's two-decade-old system. "We have the colleges so full that community life, discipline, education, even sanitation are suffering," he said.[2] After several years of speculation about the possibility of four or five new colleges, the university confirmed the construction of two new colleges in spring 1959, choosing Eero Saarinen '34 as the project architect and the Old York Square behind the Graduate School as the site. The Old Dominion Foundation, established by Paul Mellon '29, provided funding for the construction of Stiles and Morse, calling for the building of two "radically different" Yale colleges in order to reduce over-crowding.[3]


Courtyard of the college, with Payne Whitney Gymnasium in background

The College is built of rubble masonry in the style of pre-Gothic Tuscan towers, similar to those in the medieval Italian hill town of San Gimignano. Many architecture critics regard the College as a "masterpiece of American architecture,"[4][5] though it is considered one of the "ugly ducklings" of Yale.[6] The College consists of many single rooms and suites, and in a modern attempt to capture the spirit of Gothic architecture, Saarinen eliminated all right angles from the living areas.

Stiles' adjacent "twin" residential college Morse is architecturally similar, was built at the same time, and has an adjoining dining room with a common kitchen. Architecturally, Morse and Stiles differ from older colleges by having more private space per student and the lowest ratio of natural light aperture to wall surface. Stiles and Morse are known as the only "architecturally significant" residential colleges at Yale.

Saarinen wrote in a description of the architectural plans: "Somehow, the architecture had to declare them as colleges, not dormitories."[7] Saarinen continued: "We have made the buildings polygonal—their shapes derived in order to provide the diversity of student rooms, to answer the needs of the site, and to give variety and sequence of spatial experiences in the courts. We conceived of these colleges as citadels of earthy, monolithic masonry - buildings where masonry walls would be dominant and whose interiors of stone, oak, and plaster would carry out the spirit of strength and simplicity. Since handicraft methods are anachronistic, we found a new technological method for making these walls: these are ‘modern’ masonry walls made without masons."[8]

Because none of the interior walls make right angles, many of Stiles' dorm rooms are furnished with built-in desks and bookshelves. The College was once heated by a system that warmed the stone floors, but maintenance troubles led Yale to abandon it and install radiators.

The back of the Yale University bookstore acts as a wall in the courtyard.[9]

In fall 2010, the refurbishment of adjoining Morse College gave Stiles students access to a new gym, dance studio, and the Underground Crescent Theater. Work on Stiles itself began in summer 2010, and was complete by August 2011. Among other things, it added suites to the College and refurbished several massive lighting fixtures designed by UCLA sculptor Oliver Andrews, meant to be abstract and contemporary versions of "the sort of thing you'd find in an ancient castle".[10]

Student lifeEdit

The mascot is the A. Bartlett Giamatti Memorial Moose. Ezra Stiles students presented the College with the taxidermy moose head in 1972 when they found out that the then College Master A. Bartlett Giamatti would be leaving the role with instructions not to hang his picture in the college, as had been the custom.[11] Giamatti in 1977 became Yale's youngest president, and in 1989 was named Commissioner of Baseball. Giamatti's son, actor Paul Giamatti, lived in the Head of College's House on the Ezra Stiles College grounds from birth through age five. The moose appears on much of the Ezra Stiles apparel and is part of the Ezra Stiles cheer.[12]

Stiles has had success in Yale's intramural sports program, winning the Tyng Cup — presented to the residential college with the best intramural sports performance — in 1964, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, 2003, 2004, and 2005.[13] This 10-cup total places Stiles just one behind leaders Pierson College and Timothy Dwight College. More recently, the College has taken second place behind Silliman College, which won the Cup in 2006, 2007, and 2008. Stiles also won the intramural water polo championship in 2020, making it the first major Stiles intramural win in a several-year-long drought.

Ezra Stiles and Morse used to co-host an annual Casino Night since the early 1990s, until it was shut down due to legal concerns. A formal affair, the event featured casino-style games and live music.[14] Stilesians also host an annual "Medieval (K)night." For one night in April, the dining hall is transformed into a medieval banquet hall, and students enjoy medieval fare and dramatic re-enactments of "Beowulf" and dragon battles after besieging and pillaging rival colleges.[15] In addition to raiding other colleges, Stiles has historically also pranked their fellow residential colleges. In 2019, the "Morse" banner in the Morse dining hall was edited overnight to read "Moose". While the culprits were never caught, Stilesians were the prime suspects.[16]

The College is well known for a robust arts community, maintaining a student-run art gallery, and holding "Stiles Arts Week" for over 40 years. During Arts Week, the College hosts study breaks and activities which have included painting pots for succulents, workshops in stop-motion animation, and open mic nights. For Arts Week 2020, the week kicked off with a 12 hour knitting marathon called "The Great Knit."[17] Recently Arts Week has included the Stiles Student Film Festival, a formal affair featuring films from all Yale students regardless of major or residential college affiliation. Arts Week culminates in a “classical brunch,” in which Stiles musicians perform classical music during brunch.[18]

Heads and deansEdit

In 2016, the title of "Master" was changed to "Head of College".[23]

Notable alumniEdit


  1. ^ "About Ezra Stiles - Ezra Stiles College". ezrastiles.yalecollege.yale.edu.
  2. ^ "About Us". morse.yalecollege.yale.edu/about-us. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  3. ^ "About Us". morse.yalecollege.yale.edu/about-us. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  4. ^ "Yale Ezra Stiles College Restoration Progress". Grand Light. Retrieved 2020-06-08.
  5. ^ Yale Daily News. (2005). The Insider's guide to the colleges, 2006. St. Martin's Griffin. OCLC 1035649863.
  6. ^ "Renovations abandon Saarinen's philosophy". www.yaleherald.com. Archived from the original on 2013-05-17. Retrieved 2014-02-04.
  7. ^ "About Ezra Stiles | Ezra Stiles College". ezrastiles.yalecollege.yale.edu. Retrieved 2020-05-16.
  8. ^ Saarinen, Eero (1961). "Eero Saarinen". Perspecta. 7: 29–42. doi:10.2307/1566864. ISSN 0079-0958. JSTOR 1566864.
  9. ^ "Morse and Ezra Stiles Colleges |". New Haven Modern Architecture - New Haven Preservation Trust. Retrieved 2020-05-16.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-13. Retrieved 2010-10-13.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Yale Ezra Stiles College lighting restoration in progress; AE1 fixtures complete
  11. ^ Henry, Diane (December 21, 1977). "18th Leader of Yale". New York Times. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  12. ^ "Ezra Stiles Merchandise". Retrieved 20 August 2020.
  13. ^ "Archives". Archived from the original on 2009-04-19.
  14. ^ Yee, Vivian (November 8, 2009). "In blow to tradition, Casino Night canceled over legal concerns". Yale Daily News. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  15. ^ "Medieval (K)night". Ezra Stiles College. Yale College. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  16. ^ Alden Branch, Mark. "Moose code". Yale Alumni Magazine. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  17. ^ "Clubs and Committees". Ezra Stiles College. Yale College. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  18. ^ Turner, Rianna (February 6, 2019). "Stiles Film Festival to screen student-produced films". Yale Daily News. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  19. ^ Correct date, though three years before the opening of the college. See "Richard Sewall dies, was first master of Ezra Stiles College". Yale Bulletin and Calendar. 31 (27). Yale University. April 25, 2003. Archived from the original on June 25, 2016. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  20. ^ "Alicia Schmidt Camacho appointed head of Ezra Stiles College". YaleNews. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  21. ^ Sweedler, Maya (May 5, 2016). "Parndigamage '06 named new Stiles dean". Yale Daily News. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  22. ^ "Stiles dean settles into a student-less college".
  23. ^ ""Master" to become "head of college" | Yale Daily News". yaledailynews.com. Retrieved 2018-10-24.
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab "Notable Alumni | Ezra Stiles College".

External linksEdit