April 30, 2014

Dear Parents

I am so pleased to write to you with news of my first semester as president of Connecticut College. I arrived here in January and, honestly, I could not be happier with my new home. I have spent the past three months getting to know the community and I have been deeply impressed with what I have found: an award-winning faculty that excels at both teaching and scholarship; a remarkably dedicated set of coaches; an exceptional staff; and, most importantly, a talented, driven, and socially responsible student body. Thank you for sending your wonderful sons and daughters to Connecticut College!

At a welcome event last week for newly admitted students and their parents, I had the opportunity to listen to two of our current seniors as they addressed the crowd. They were very impressive. I was struck not just by their poise but also by the thoughtful and generous way they narrated their personal development. Both were quick to acknowledge the role played by faculty and staff mentors in their success. As they spoke, it became clear that they had become equal partners in a deep and sophisticated conversation about their learning. I have been at many other fine institutions and I would have to say: it really does not get any better than this.

Our students, faculty, and staff are currently engaged in one of the most productive debates about education on this campus in 40 years. What should our 21st -century graduates know and what should they be able to do? And how should we organize their learning so that they will be able to make meaningful contributions to the world in their lives after college? These are critical questions, and the whole campus has been involved in finding the answers. In February, we held a week of workshops, discussions, and classroom events to expand the conversation and to generate new ideas. It has been inspiring to see students so involved in shaping the future of their own education. The faculty expects to finalize these discussions and to vote on the new curriculum in the fall.

Our facilities are being renewed along with our curriculum. This summer we will be undertaking major work on the Charles E. Shain Library, thanks to generous support by several trustees and donors. The renovation, which will be completed in the fall of 2015, will include updated interior spaces and technology; new open study areas filled with natural light; group meeting and collaboration spaces; and a new outdoor plaza and 24-hour café. The Academic Resource Center will be moving to the second floor of the new space, providing students with even greater access to this important resource. You can see renderings, plans and more at www.conncoll.edu/shainreno.

You may have heard that we opened a new Hillel House this semester, with a generous gift from entrepreneur and philanthropist Henry Zachs and his family. Connecticut College has supported a Hillel organization for 25 years, but this new facility gives our Jewish students their first dedicated space on campus for study, reflection, and fellowship. The Zachs Hillel House is a gorgeous, light-filled building on the northeastern corner of the campus that has already become a sought-after meeting place for the whole community. The Hillel House was dedicated just this past weekend, and it is already clear what a difference it is making to students and faculty across the campus.

We are making improvements to our programs as well. Connecticut College has long been a leader in what I like to call “liberal and career-oriented learning.” Our students have an unusual opportunity to combine a rigorous course of study with practical programs that prepare them for meaningful work in their lives after college. As president, I am committed to building on this distinction. In February, I announced our new partnership with Koru, a Seattle-based company that offers immersive programs for students in real-world business challenges. Participants are introduced to high-growth industries and to the hands-on experience they need to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace. The Koru program, then, complements and enhances the comprehensive career offerings that we already provide through our Career Enhancing Life Skills (CELS) program. The first Connecticut College students will begin this summer.

As we look beyond the summer to the next academic year, I know that you, too, are planning for the costs of your child’s education at Connecticut College in 2014-15. I want to share with you that the College’s Board of Trustees has set a 3.6 percent increase in tuition and fees for next year, bringing the comprehensive fee to $60,895. Our financial aid budget will also increase by more than $1 million in the coming year to reach more than $31 million. We recognize that any increase in tuition has an impact on families and we continue to strive to keep this increase as low as possible.

This letter is the first of many communications that you will receive from me with news from the College. Thank you for supporting your sons and daughters in the past year and for being such a valued part of our community. I look forward to seeing you very soon.

Katherine Bergeron