June 24, 2021

Dear Parents and Guardians of the Class of 2025,

As June comes to a close, I wanted to write to express my gratitude for all you did to help your student make it through an incredible senior year and to welcome all of you to the Connecticut College family. The week before last, we hosted our first-ever virtual reunion, and I began my State of the College address by noting that it would be one for the history books. As you know, this has been in every way a year worthy of a Dickens novel: the best of times and the worst of times. At Conn, it has been a dramatic year, a challenging year, a year of loss, and a year of great achievement. It has been a year of living through history and a year of making history. And I want to relate a few of our most historic accomplishments as a way of welcoming you to this special place.

Among the most notable, I would have to cite:

  • Our safe reopening of the College last fall, with a best-in-class testing program
  • Our renovation of the historic Palmer Auditorium now in progress

  • Our vibrant spring NESCAC season, with all 28 varsity teams competing

  • Our campus celebration of the largest single gift in Conn’s history: $30 million from Rob ’88 and Karen Hale P ’20

  • And, of course, our record applications and admissions for the Class of 2025

I would also have to hold up our faculty, who not only learned to teach in new ways to meet the challenges of the moment but also, despite the pandemic, continued to win accolades for their scholarship. Professors in the departments of Botany, Biology, Government, Architecture, Dance, and English won a range of competitive grants and fellowships to advance their research on fossils, childhood trauma, voter education, German modernism, choreography, and late nineteenth-century African-American literature. Hubert Cook, the Sue and Eugene Mercy, Jr. Assistant Professor of English at Connecticut College, received an extraordinary Career Enhancement Fellowship from the Institute for Citizens & Scholars to complete his book, Empathy’s Dark Labor, on Black writers at the turn of the twentieth century.

Our students are always inspired by this excellence, and this year their stars shone especially brightly, with quite a number winning prestigious international fellowships. Tashayla Borden ’21 and Jack Rider-McGovern ’21 both won Watson Fellowships to do independent research spanning several countries. Emily Hackett ’23 and Devon Rancourt ’21 received Critical Language Scholarships from the U.S. State Department to study Russian language and culture. Alireza Mohammadi ’22 and Camila Adrianzén Yndigoyen ’23 won $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grants to pursue humanitarian work in Kabul and Peru. Dominique D’Onofrio ’18, Abigail Schmitt ’21, and Jessica-Lyn Sweet ’21 were awarded Fulbright Fellowships to Romania, Spain, and Brazil. And Ann Monk ’21 became the first person in College history to win a Marshall Scholarship, which provides three years of funding from the British government to support graduate study in the UK. Ann will be traveling to London to pursue an M.A. in international development.

These are just a few of the highpoints in a history-making year. Another historic event, of course, was our 103rd Commencement—the first Commencement to take place during a pandemic in more than 100 years. Our in-person gathering was a special day, a beautiful expression of community, and a reaffirmation of our mission. Ethan Brown ’94, Founder and CEO of Beyond Meat, gave an address about finding your voice and founding a company that I think left all of us with a sense of hope and possibility about the future.

You, too, give us hope. The Class of 2025 is the largest, most diverse, and most talented class we have ever admitted. And they would not be joining us without your support. When I reflect on the past 15 months, I am most moved by the perseverance, resilience, and grace of our amazing students—and now your students are among them. I know the skills you helped them learn during this past year of disruption and change will serve them well as they embark on their college journey.

And now, as we prepare to return to more normal campus operations this fall, your support will be even more critical. So let me end by thanking you for entrusting us with your wonderful students and for becoming part of the Connecticut College family. I cannot wait to greet you in person in August.

Sending you my best wishes until then for your continued health and wellbeing. Welcome to Connecticut College!

Katherine Bergeron