May 23, 2014

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

The Connecticut College Board of Trustees convened for its spring meeting last weekend, and I write with news of issues discussed and actions taken.

The board heard reports on a range of topics that will have important repercussions next year and beyond. They discussed the progress toward a revised curriculum, a new consortium program focused on equity and inclusion in the academy, and the work the College is doing to end gender-based violence on campus. The board also voted on faculty promotions, appointed new and emeriti trustees, approved the fiscal year 2015 budget, and discussed current and future capital projects. The details of these discussions are summarized below.

Looking toward the future

Professor Amy Dooling, chair of the Educational Planning Committee, described the energetic and ongoing efforts to revise the Connecticut College curriculum. She presented highlights of the faculty’s work this semester: a robust framework for a fouryear, integrated plan, which would include an expanded first-year seminar program, an interdisciplinary concentration, related work in the community or in the world, a senior symposium, and a team-oriented advising system. Another faculty working group has been convened this summer to identify the resources required to implement this curricular vision, while select faculty members will prepare new courses to test the framework.

Board members also learned about the College’s role in a new consortium designed to expand the diversity of the professoriate. Roger Brooks discussed the Creating Connections Consortium (or C3), a partnership between Connecticut College, Williams College, and Middlebury College launched this spring with generous funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The consortium will bring recent Ph.D.s of color from significant research universities — namely, University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University — to our colleges for two years of teaching, scholarship, and mentorship. It will also provide new research opportunities for promising undergraduates of color. Our first cohort of postdoctoral fellows will be arriving in the fall.

Seniors Alia Roth and Kevin Reich gave an account of their work in the College’s programs to end sexual violence. They described a cultural shift on campus over the past four years, brought about by our involvement in a national bystander intervention program known as Green Dot. Much credit for these positive changes was given to Darcie Folsom, director of sexual violence prevention and advocacy, who has spearheaded this effort and brought the College into the national spotlight. At a recent press conference, Senator Richard Blumenthal praised Connecticut College for its leadership in this area.

Promotions and appointments

The board approved the following faculty promotions effective July 1, 2014. Promoted to professor were Ronald Flores (sociology), Jason Nier (psychology), and Denise Pelletier (art). Promoted to associate professor with tenure were Courtney Baker (English), Anthony Graesch (anthropology), Afshan Jafar (sociology), Sharon Portnoff (religious studies), Rosemarie Roberts (dance), and Darryl Phillips (classics).

Three new trustees were elected to terms beginning on July 1: Nancy Marshall Athey ’72, Carlos Garcia ’88 P’18 and Eric Kaplan ’85, as well as a new young alumni trustee, Blake Reilly ’14. Several current trustees were re-elected by the board for a second, four-year term: David Barber ’88, Estella Johnson ’75, and Maria Pellegrini ’69. Five trustees were also approved as emeriti: William Barrack ’81, Lynda Munro ’76 P’08, Judith Opatrny ’72, Kevin Wade ’76, and Constance Gemmer ’80 P’10. Finally, departing trustees Laura Allen ’81, and Gary Ng ’11 were acknowledged for their outstanding service.

Fiscal Year 2015 budget and capital projects

The College’s cash operating budget for FY15 was approved by the board at $134.9 million, $1.1 million more than last year. The difference amounts to approved increases in compensation and financial aid. The budget also includes a 3.6-percent increase in tuition, room, and board, bringing the comprehensive fee to $60,895 for 2014-15.

In the area of capital improvements, the trustees heard updates on several major projects. The plan to upgrade the power plant is running ahead of schedule and is on target to distribute steam by Oct. 1. Work is continuing on the Shain Library renovation, and the trustees learned about plans to ensure a smooth transition year for everyone. An advisory council, comprising students, faculty, and staff, will help plan, promote, and sponsor events throughout the coming year. Beyond the library, the trustees were advised about another major upgrade to our core network, planned for the summer, which will increase network security and provide increased bandwidth.

Fundraising and new gifts

The Advancement & Communications Committee received an update on progress of this year’s Annual Fund, which currently sits at $4.3 million. Overall, new gifts and commitments, currently at $14 million, are anticipated to reach $19 million by June 30.

The trustees also acknowledged the following recent gifts: from the estate of Nancy Camp ’53, a dedicated CC volunteer, $2.4 million in scholarship support; from Elizabeth Roswell ’52 and Arthur Roswell, $250,000 toward the Hillel endowment; from Lucille Carothers ’45, $250,000 for endowment and budget support of Hillel; from the estate of Professor Emeritus Jacqueline Chadourne, $100,000 endowed gift to support the French department; from the United States Air Force Office of Scientific Research, $225,000 gift to support the research of Bruce Branchini, the Vahlteich Professor of Chemistry.

Finally, we continued our tradition of providing opportunities for board members to meet with faculty, students, and staff throughout the weekend. On Friday, finalists for the Oakes and Louise Ames Prize and winners of this year’s faculty awards and the very first Presidential Staff Recognition Awards joined trustees for lunch, along with members of the Staff Council.

Overall, it was a productive set of discussions filled with excitement about the momentum of the College and the new initiatives underway. The conclusion of the weekend couldn’t have been more perfect as we the celebrated the College’s 96th Commencement on a spectacular day on Tempel Green.

My best wishes to all for a restorative summer.

Katherine Bergeron