Pierson College opened its doors in 1933; it is one of the eight original colleges bequeathed by Edward Harkness and designed by James Gamble Rogers. The College is designed in the Georgian architectural style with red brick and white trim and a prominent tower inspired by Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.
The College is named after Abraham Pierson, a founder of the Collegiate School which became Yale College. A statue of Pierson stands on the Old Campus. Among the many distinguished Masters (now Heads) of the College are luminaries such as John Hersey and Gaddis Smith.
Pierson has been traditionally renowned for its thriving social life, and once had the reputation of consistently trailing other residential Yale colleges in academic rankings. In fact, Pierson’s rallying cry at one time was, “Tyng, Tang, and GPA,” reflecting Pierson’s reputation for winning Yale intramural sports (Tyng), an annual drinking competition among the residential colleges (Tang), and having the lowest average GPA of all the residential colleges. In 2004, however, Pierson was awarded the Gimble Cup for highest average GPA at Yale. Plus ça change?
Among Pierson’s notable alumni are footballer Calvin Hill, Time-Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes, NY governor George Pataki and actor Paul Giamatti.