View from the Loge: December 5

December 5, 2023

View from the Loge

December 5, 2023

As many of you know, Yale University has a residential college system. Students live, eat, study and play in one of 14 communities around Yale’s campus. Each college has a residential dean, who lives in the college. This dean serves as a mentor, professor, advisor, and general grown-up in charge. Over the library fireplace in one of those colleges, Timothy Dwight (TD), hangs a portrait of a former beloved residential dean, John Loge. My dad. Under the portrait is a phrase he repeated at the end of every semester, every year, for more than 20 years: “Exams are a test of your knowledge and not a test of your identity and personal worth.”

The reminder appeared in his weekly update to TD students the week before exams. His updates looked a lot like SMPA’s Rundown - deadlines and reminders, speakers and events, and at the end a reflection from the dean. His reflections focused on community, events in the world and on campus, and whatever else struck him. For many, Dean Loge’s notes defined their time at Yale and many remained on the weekly email list long after they graduated. 

Dean Loge


When my dad retired in 2014, Yale hung his portrait in his favorite spot. A place, he says, that would make his mother - an elementary school librarian who had a library named for her - proud. 

The team in SMPA didn’t know all this when they suggested that I write a short weekly note at the bottom of our Rundown. Initially I said no. A weekly note to students was my dad’s thing, not mine. It’s bad enough that I’m a third generation college administrator (and third generation with connections to Yale, I’m an associate fellow in TD and my grandfather went to medical school there) without having to carry the additional burden of having to copy my father’s model - especially since he is a much better writer than I am. That is an argument I obviously lost. 

Which brings me back to his bi-annual note about final exams. With his permission, I am bringing his tradition to SMPA. The below is cut and pasted from his note, the only thing I changed was the name of the school.

From Dean Loge, with light edits to make it fit SMPA:

Our term is coming to a close. I know you are working hard to finish. 

Remember: You belong at SMPA. SMPA is difficult, but you will be fine. A demanding college takes getting used to. You will get used to it and even better you will discover resources within you that you do not know you have. Be optimistic!   You have the good fortune to be surrounded by others who care about you. 
I want to remind you, as I have before, that exams are a test of your knowledge and not a test of your identity and personal worth, although it is difficult to make those distinctions sometimes. Also, keep perspective if you can. Exam period is a difficult time, but it is a finite time. And even this difficult time is an opportunity to look after yourself and others -- a cheerful word, some encouragement, a cookie -- small things that can mean so much, small things from one human to another. 

And while taking an exam or writing a paper you might even have fun thinking -- putting ideas together, calculating clearly, discovering themes, recalling with good effect, making connections coherently, making connections spontaneously, and finding you have personal resources you did not know you had. All these are possible. Remember, you will be fine.  

Best wishes as always during our final weeks together this term.  

Dean Loge, with light edits from Director Loge