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A big year for the Bodel Center

September 15, 2014
Photo by John Curtis

The center’s new location provides 60 additional places for children and a beautiful new playground.

Childcare center celebrates 35 years, expansion to a second location at Church Street South.

Dear Members of the School of Medicine Community:

In 1961, a recent medical school graduate named Phyllis Bodel came to Yale as a research assistant. She later joined the faculty and established herself as a gifted scientist, a beloved mentor to students, and an international leader in the study of fever. She also conducted research on the experience of women in medicine, challenging the notion that women were less likely than men to persevere and succeed in their medical careers. Writing in the journal Clinical Medicine in 1972, she and co-author Elizabeth Short laid much of the conventional wisdom to rest. (Their work is described in the book Medicine at Yale: The First 200 Years, published in 2011.)

The data they collected led to an increase in the number of women admitted to Yale School of Medicine and better opportunities for women on the faculty. Dr. Bodel become the first director of the school’s Office for Women in Medicine—the first such office at an American medical school—and helped guide the medical school into a new era. Tenure rules were changed, allowing women more time to achieve tenure as they began families, and measures were put in place to correct gender disparities and to provide social and professional support. One example of this was increasing access to childcare.

Dr. Bodel’s promising career was cut short by illness, and she died in 1978. She is remembered for many things, but for parents of young children in our community today, her name is associated first with the childcare center that bears her name.

The Phyllis Bodel Childcare Center has had a tremendous impact on the careers of faculty, students, and staff at the medical school by providing a safe and stimulating environment for their young children right on campus. If you have walked across the Harkness Lawn, you have seen the center in action: children playing, parents dropping off and picking up, teachers engaged in educational activities. The quality of the program is unmatched, with a philosophy of strong engagement and a teacher-child ratio of 1-to-3 for infants and toddlers and 1-to-5 in the nursery school and kindergarten groups. All staff have a child development certificate and most have a degree in early childhood education.

This is a big year for the center: It has just undergone a major expansion of its facilities, and it is about to celebrate its 35th anniversary. The center’s second location opened this month at 100 Church Street South in space that became available when the School of Nursing relocated to Yale’s West Campus last year. The new location, under the same Bodel leadership, provides places for 60 children in addition to the 100 children in the existing location in Harkness Hall.

This expansion is the result of a significant investment by the medical school, with a complete reconstruction and outfitting of the space and a beautiful new playground. If you are interested in exploring the center for your children, information can be found at the center’s website. In addition, information will be forthcoming about the center’s 35th-year celebration, which will take place October 15.

Dean Robert J. Alpern, MD
Ensign Professor of Medicine

Dean Robert Alpern: 333 Cedar Street

333 Cedar Street is a letter from Dean Robert J. Alpern, MD, Ensign Professor of Medicine, on topics of interest to the Yale School of Medicine community. Write to Dean Alpern at