Gift of $2.5 million to support next generation of Holleran Center scholars

(From left) President Katherine Bergeron with Jerry Holleran and Carolyn Holleran ’60 GP ’07
(From left) President Katherine Bergeron with Jerry Holleran and Carolyn Holleran ’60 GP ’07

Connecticut College has received a $2.5 million gift from trustee emerita Carolyn Holleran ’60 and Jerry Holleran GP ’07. The Hollerans’ generous gift is earmarked to strengthen the center that bears their name, the Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy. The gift also provides $100,000 for the Connecticut College Fund to help meet the immediate needs of all students, faculty and the College.

The gift builds on nearly two decades of generosity to Connecticut College, including a leadership gift in 1996 to create an endowment for the Holleran Center, which advances teaching, learning, research and community collaborations through programs that develop intellectual and ethical judgment in order to help students foster a more equitable society.

The $2.5 million gift will expand the Holleran Center’s reach, increase its global impact and ensure Connecticut College continues to graduate proven leaders committed to social justice. The funds will be used to endow important faculty and staff positions, as well as to support community-based courses both for first-year students and for those in the Center’s longstanding certificate program.

“This remarkable gift allows us to build on the vital work of the Holleran Center,” President Katherine Bergeron said, “ensuring Connecticut College’s continued leadership in community-based education for a more just world. We are deeply grateful to Carolyn and Jerry for their vision, involvement and support.”

The Holleran Center is one of the College’s five centers for interdisciplinary scholarship. Students accepted earn a certificate in community action and public policy by completing certain entry requirements in the sophomore year, followed by a set of interdisciplinary courses and an internship related to their area of focus, and a senior seminar in which they pursue an integrative project. Each year, more than 70 students representing 30 different academic departments participate in the program, completing thousands of hours of community-based learning, conducting critical research, and interning in the United States and abroad to prepare for lives of civic engagement and leadership.

More than 360 students have graduated from the program in the 21 years since its inception. From supplying safe and effective feminine products for women in India to providing legal services to immigrants and refugees to combatting gun violence, Holleran Center graduates are now making a difference all over the world as activists, community organizers, lawyers, policy makers, researchers, fundraisers, educators, social workers and Fulbright fellows.

“Our investments in the Holleran Center have truly been gifts that keep on giving,” Carolyn and Jerry Holleran said. “We’ve been so impressed by the work of Holleran students, staff, faculty and alumni. With this additional gift, we are looking forward to broadening the impact of the center for decades to come.”

As the College’s primary incubator for social justice initiatives, community reform, and sustainable change, the Holleran Center also partners with dozens of community organizations to address challenges in education, health and wellness, affordable housing, community development, the environment, and food security.

Professor of Psychology Audrey Zakriski, who serves as faculty director of the Holleran Center, said she has been deeply touched by the Hollerans’ enduring commitment to the College and to the Holleran Center.

“Carolyn and Jerry Holleran are more than just financial supporters of the center, they are deeply engaged investors, visionary leaders and inspirational philanthropists,” Zakriski said.

“For more than two decades, they have encouraged collective action by students, staff, faculty and community partners to advance equity and social justice, and support all communities to thrive. This gift will deepen and extend these efforts, allowing us to engage students earlier in their college years and better prepare them for high social impact careers.”

To help broaden the base of financial support for the Holleran Center, the Hollerans are offering a special challenge. “In the spirit of maximizing the impact of our support, we are earmarking $1 million of our contribution as a challenge to others who care deeply about the Center and its mission. We will match every gift made to the Center before June 30, 2018 on a 2:1 basis, up to $1 million. We hope this challenge will inspire others to give generously and to help the Holleran Center reach its next levels of success.”

Please contact Martha C. Merrill ’84, interim vice president for College Advancement, at or (860) 439-2408 if you have questions about this special challenge.

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September 6, 2017