May 24, 2019

Dear Members of the Connecticut College Community,


The Connecticut College Board of Trustees convened for its spring meeting last weekend. Among the topics discussed were the College’s new Equity and Inclusion Action Plan; progress on career development, athletics, and the campus master plan; the fiscal 2020 operating budget and campaign results; faculty appointments and promotions; and the election of new trustees. This letter summarizes points discussed and actions taken.


Equity, Inclusion, and Title IX
Friday’s plenary session explored the history of affirmative action and ongoing efforts at Conn to realize the ideal of full participation. In that spirit, staff in the division of institutional equity and inclusion joined Dean John McKnight to discuss the College’s new Equity and Inclusion Action Plan. Vetted by the President’s Council on Equity and Inclusion and discussed on campus over the last several months, the plan lays out a series of concrete, actionable goals for realizing full participation on campus. In a unanimous vote, the trustees endorsed the plan as an expression of the strategic priority to build a more just and sustainable College. The plan is now posted on the DIEI website.

As part of its obligation to Title IX, the Board continued the discussion, begun at the February meeting, of the incidents of voyeurism that took place on campus between November and January. Trustees spent some time reflecting on the recently concluded police investigation and the campus response, and on plans going forward to enhance awareness, improve communication, and review policies and procedures around sexual misconduct.


Career and Athletics
The need to prepare students for purposeful lives after College is an ongoing conversation among trustees. The Board discussed progress not only on the opening of a new center for Career and Professional Development in Fanning Hall, but also on a new career curriculum designed to help students advance their professional networks over four years. Both are scheduled to launch in the fall. Along with these efforts, the trustees heard about plans to increase employer-funded internships for students; to expand international internships in partnership with the Walter Commons; and to initiate new cohort-based programming for students interested in pursuing careers in finance.

Trustees also discussed a number of positive developments in athletics in 2018-19, including the new livestreaming of conference competitions; the upgraded coaching positions in squash and cross country; the enhancements to the athletics leadership team; and the new position of director of the Camel Athletics Network—to be held by Fran Shields—to expand alumni support for athletics. In October, the College will officially launch the network at events in Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C., where we will also unveil the vision for renewed athletics programming and facilities.


Campus Master Plan Projects
The Board spent some time reviewing the most recent progress report on the College’s strategic plan, Building on Strength, which shows actions completed since May 2018. This includes major capital projects, such as the renovation of Palmer Auditorium and the College Center at Crozier-Williams, now in schematic design; as well as other projects, such as the career office relocation and the proposed fuel cell installation, both in progress. Additional improvements slated for summer 2019 involve installing an elevator in Fanning Hall and replacing the original slate roof, as well as upgrading the cooling and heating systems in both The Plex and in the vivarium in Bill Hall.


Financial Strength
The trustees approved a balanced cash-operating budget of $117.8 million for fiscal year 2020, with a provision for $51.0 million in financial aid, an increase of almost $8 million over fiscal year 2019. Also included was a provision for a 2 per cent salary increase for staff and faculty effective July 1, 2019. The Board approved a 3.75 percent increase in tuition and fees, bringing the comprehensive fee to $72,590 for the 2019-20 academic year.

The budget discussion included a review of the College’s admissions results along with endowment performance for 2019. After seeing a record 6,780 applications, the College saw record acceptances for the second year in a row. We again expect well over 500 first-year and transfer students to enroll this coming fall. The College’s endowment continues to grow, with current valuation at $312 million.


In the area of fundraising, trustees toasted the record-breaking Giving Challenge for Founders Day, which raised $1.3 million in two days from over 3,400 donors, including nearly 300 first-time donors. Alumni participation is currently running 5 percent higher than last year, and the College is working hard to maintain that lead and build pride by ending the year with a strong percentage of alumni donors for 2019. 

The second year of the silent phase of our campaign has yielded similarly strong results. In early May, we passed the $100 million mark in total campaign giving. This fiscal year, the College has already received more than $23 million in new gifts and commitments, with still a month to go, suggesting that 2018-19 will be one of the strongest fundraising years in recent history. The year’s total includes the Connecticut College Fund, currently at $5.7 million and on track to reach this year’s $6.1 million goal. 


Appointments, Promotions, and Departures
On the agenda for the May meeting are faculty appointments and promotions at the College. This year, there were five promotions to full professor and seven to associate professor with tenure, all effective July 1. Promoted to full professor were Luis Gonzalez (Hispanic Studies), Ruth Grahn (Psychology), Rosemarie Roberts (Dance), Sufia Uddin (Religious Studies), and Lina Wilder (English). Promoted to associate professor with tenure were Virginia Anderson (Theater), Ana Lilia Campos-Manzo (Sociology), Sheetal Chhabria (History), Suzuko Knott (German Studies), James Lee (Computer Science), Wendy Moy (Music), and Tobias Myers (Classics). The Board extends its congratulations to all these faculty.

In addition, five new trustee appointments were approved for terms beginning July 1: Leslie Rosen ’02; Rajneesh Vig ’93; Leslie Wong; Nicole Abraham ’19, as new Young Alumni Trustee; and Evan Piekara ’07, as new President of the Alumni Association Board of Directors. Three current trustees were reappointed for a second, four-year term: Lynn Cooley ’76, T. Wilson Eglin ’86, and Rob Hale ’88 P’20. Debo P. Adegbile ’91 and Jonathan Cohen ’87 were also reappointed to coincide with their extended terms as vice chairs.

Finally, two valued members of the Board who are ending their service on June 30—Chakena Sims ’16 and Jamie Glanton Costello ’89—were honored at the meeting for their distinctive contributions and commitment to the College. 


Other Business
As is our custom, winners of this year’s faculty awards and Presidential Staff Recognition Awards joined trustees for lunch on Friday, along with student recipients of Fulbright fellowships and nominees for the Anna Lord Strauss Medal and the Oakes and Louise Ames Prize.

The weekend culminated in the 100th Anniversary of the College’s First Commencement in 1919. To mark the occasion, Columbia biologists Martin Chalfie, winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize, and Tulle Hazelrigg received honorary degrees and gave a joint keynote address—another first for Connecticut College.


Katherine Bergeron