Conn celebrates 111th birthday with outdoor gathering, giving challenge
Connecticut College’s 2022 Founders Day celebration had all the makings of a great birthday party: beautiful weather, lively music, fun games and sweet treats, including cannoli, ice cream, cookies and cake pops provided by local food trucks.
“We celebrate birthdays for two reasons: to mark the passage of time, and to recognize the gift of a life that has been given to us. And that’s what today is about from my perspective, to remember the College’s longevity and our own good fortune on being part of this remarkable living institution,” President Katherine Bergeron said, before telling the story of the College’s founding on April 5, 1911.
“From the very beginning, this school on a hill embraced a broad and encompassing vision of higher education, and that’s the vision that remains with us today.”
The April 5 celebration also kicked off Camels Count, a 48-hour giving challenge that runs through noon on April 7. Building on the success of last year’s challenge, the most successful in the College’s history, this year’s goal is support from 3,000 people, which will activate $300,000 in challenge funds from generous alumni and parents. As of noon on April 6, more than 1,230 donors have so far given more than $248,938, with $100,000 challenge funds already activated.
Luci McGlynn ’22, who serves on Conn’s Student Government Association as chair of the Honor Council, spoke at the event to recognize the 100th anniversary of Connecticut College’s Honor Code. Created by students in 1922, the Honor Code is a system based on trust and mutual respect in which students pledge to uphold academic excellence and high community standards by practicing responsible citizenship that protects the core principles of the College.
“One hundred years ago, the students of Connecticut College wanted more. Students wanted to attend an institution that held themselves, staff and faculty to a higher standard. Together, they committed themselves to upholding standards of behavior governed by honor,” McGlynn said.
Today, she added, the Honor Code “encourages all of us to look out for each other.”
The Founders Day event also marked the official launch of the “Say Hi” campaign, a joint initiative of Conn’s Staff Council, Faculty Steering and Conference Committee, and Student Government Association, with funding from the Co-Sponsorship Fund. “Say Hi” buttons were distributed across campus and at the event, and members of the community are encouraged to wear the buttons all week and take time to greet each other and reconnect.
“Don’t underestimate the value and the impact of such a small gesture,” Staff Council Secretary Paula Orbe said at the event. “Share a smile, share some goodwill, and uplift everyone else around you by just saying, ‘Hi.’”
Founders Day recognizes the date in 1911 on which the College’s original charter was signed by the Connecticut Secretary of State, but its history began in 1909 when the one men’s institution in Connecticut that had begun opening its doors to women abruptly closed them. Because more women than ever were seeking higher education and demanding the right to vote, a committee was formed to create a new college, and towns across the State began competing to become the new site.
A New London hilltop, later described as “the finest college site in the world,” was the committee members’ first choice, and they asked New London to raise $100,000 to ensure that their proposal would succeed. A 10-day fundraising campaign exceeded the goal by $35,000.
In keeping with tradition, the Harkness Chapel bell tolled 111 times at noon in honor of Conn’s 111 years.
“We celebrate our founding because a very important kernel of who we are is lodged there: our commitment to progressive, engaged, equity-minded education—an education that is always, always defying boundaries,” Bergeron said.