October 28, 2014

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

I write to you with news of the October meeting of the Board of Trustees, which took place last weekend. We welcomed new trustees Nancy Athey ’72, Carlos Garcia ’88 P’18, Eric Kaplan ’85, and Blake Riley ’14 to the board.

The meeting included important discussions around a number of topics, including capital projects underway; faculty efforts on the new reVision curriculum; our institutional responsibility in relation to Title IX; and an update on what we are doing to enhance the reputation of Connecticut College.

Building excellence

Among the best pieces of news I shared with the board involved Shain Library. Trustees learned that, because of a highly accelerated construction schedule, the building is now likely to reopen before the end of the school year. The early opening was made possible by the outstanding teamwork of our architects, building contractors, and project managers, along with our staff. My thanks go to Ulysses Hammond, vice president for administration, and Lee Hisle, vice president for information services, for their leadership. Details about the precise opening date will be announced in the coming weeks.

Other successful projects discussed by the board included the Powerhouse renovation, which is now delivering reliable steam as we head into the colder months, and a recent upgrade of the College’s core data network to enhance our information security environment and network speed.

The board also learned about the ongoing work of the faculty to rebuild the curriculum. They heard directly from faculty and staff members involved in two pilots this fall — one having to do with team advising and the other focused on new approaches to the first-year seminar. They considered, as well, recommendations from by the working group on enrollment strategy about improving the student experience from inquiry through matriculation and beyond.

Finances and new gifts

The financial health of the College continues to be strong. As of June 30, the endowment reached $280 million — a year-end high — and our net assets have increased by $36 million owing to growth in the endowment and new gifts to the College. The trustees discussed a comprehensive plan to reach an ambitious goal of $5.3 million for the Connecticut College Annual Fund, a goal that has been advanced by the significant increase in annual giving by the board. A sampling of gifts raised since July 1 include a leadership gift to create an endowed scholarship from the from the Sidney E. Frank Foundation; a grant from the National Institutes of Health to support research in chemistry; a leadership gift from George Oliva P’07’11 to renovate Oliva Hall; and a bequest from Marianne Lewis ’51 to provide unrestricted support to the Annual Fund.

Critical issues

Also discussed was a topic that has received significant media attention in recent months: sexual misconduct on college campuses. The board heard a presentation by Victor Arcelus, dean of student life, outlining our responsibilities in relation to Title IX, and detailing changes in current policies and procedures that will ensure a safe and healthy campus. The recently appointed task force on Title IX and our new website on sexual respect were highlighted in the course of the discussion. Following this session, students involved in the Think Safe Project, SafetyNet, and One in Four joined trustees for lunch.

Finally, I updated the board on our efforts to advance the institutional narrative of the College, including a preview of the redesigned website that will launch in February 2015. The new site will allow us to tell the story of the excellence of our faculty, our students, and our academic and career programs—foregrounding our unique mission of the liberal arts in action. It will also help us with the work we will begin later this spring on an inclusive strategic planning process.

The weekend concluded with the unveiling of a new work by Professor of Art Denise Pelletier in the lobby of the Science Center at New London Hall, a gift to the College by the family of trustee David Kelso P ’09. If you haven’t had a chance to see the piece yet, I hope you will take the opportunity to do so very soon. You will be inspired.

Katherine Bergeron