“Connecticut College educates students to put the liberal arts into action as citizens in a global society.”

Connecticut College's Eleventh President

Connecticut College is seeking its eleventh president in the College’s 102-year history, succeeding Leo I. Higdon, who has announced he will retire at the end of December 2013.

Connecticut College is one of the most highly ranked residential liberal arts colleges in the nation. The College is known for academic excellence, innovative pedagogy and a commitment to the intellectual, moral and ethical development of its students. Connecticut College has achieved its valued reputation through an unwavering commitment to the merits of a liberal arts education, an academic culture of rigor, interdisciplinary faculty scholarship and collegiality, and a diverse, inclusive community with a highly articulated social conscience.

In the past six years, under the leadership of President Higdon, Connecticut College has made major investments in its academic programs, educational excellence, campus and infrastructure, and student experience — each a strategic and funding priority of the College’s 2007 strategic plan. With the support and efforts of all constituencies of the College — on and off campus — including the funding of a $200 million capital campaign, these investments have resulted in record levels of faculty and student diversity; a more relevant and challenging academic program; the establishment of an academic resource center; construction of a new science center and a new fitness center; and extensive campus renewal, including renovation of student residences, classrooms and playing fields.

The next president will have a unique opportunity to articulate a vision for the future of the College with constituents who embrace new ideas and approaches, to build on the College’s current momentum and strong foundation and to lead the College to a higher position of achievement and recognition.


Excellence in Liberal Arts Education

Connecticut College’s distinctive approach to academic scholarship is rooted in its immutable belief in the value of a classic residential liberal arts education — the intellectual, emotional, spiritual, creative and physical development of its student body. Academic endeavor is characterized by rigorous academic standards, individual initiative, community service and global study.

Connecticut College has been a longtime leader in the development of interdisciplinary approaches to liberal arts education and, with support and recognition from major philanthropic foundations, continues to excel in this area. Numerous courses, majors, programs and centers are structured to promote intellectual exploration using the knowledge, tools and perspectives of multiple academic disciplines.

Faculty of the highest caliber support these endeavors through challenging and innovative classroom curricula, their own scholarship and creative work, collaborative research with students, residential education programs and one-on-one work with students on honors theses and independent-study projects.

To facilitate learning opportunities outside the classroom, the College incorporates community service into scores of courses and has broad study-away programs in which more than 50 percent of the student body participates. Every student is given the opportunity for a College-funded summer internship, a program that distinguishes Connecticut College among liberal arts colleges. One positive result of these initiatives is seen in the number of post-graduate fellowships won by students and alumni. Among liberal arts colleges, Connecticut College is a top producer of Fulbright Fellowships; 34 students and recent graduates have been awarded Fulbrights in the last six years.

Innovative Pedagogy

Connecticut College is at the forefront of innovative pedagogy to improve the way its students learn and what they learn. The faculty has reviewed and defined specific learning outcomes for each major and is undertaking a comprehensive review of the curriculum to establish new general education requirements. Projects designed to incorporate cutting-edge technology into learning are in process. A major renovation of the 40-year-old Charles E. Shain Library is being planned to meet the evolving needs of students today and in the future. To expand the opportunity for first-year students to develop the liberal arts skills of reasoned analysis, discussion and debate early in their educational experience, the College instituted freshman seminars. Small and intensive, with wide-ranging topics, these courses provide close intellectual interaction with peers and faculty. In 2013, the College launched a new academic resource center that will bring together a broad array of staff and services with a single goal: to ensure all students reach their highest academic potential. The new center will work closely with the College’s center for teaching and learning, which focuses on faculty development and teaching innovation. This comprehensive, unified approach places Connecticut College ahead of many of its peers in innovative pedagogy and is expected to be a model for other liberal arts colleges.

Shared Governance and Diversity

Consistent with its role as a leader in liberal arts education, the College has a profound commitment to social ethics and diversity, characterized by its system of shared governance, an honor code and its belief that diversity of people and experiences is essential to genuine academic excellence. The College has an extensive practice of shared governance in which faculty, students and staff participate in the administration of the College. An 81-year-old honor code governs the academic and social aspects of student life and is adjudicated by a student honor council.

Connecticut College is committed to the achievement and practice of diversity and equity. The College's student body and faculty are among the most diverse in the College's peer group. The College continues to expand staffing, programs and funding in support of diversity. In 2007, the College launched the Science Leaders Program, which offers enhanced financial and academic assistance to women and minority students seeking a degree in the sciences. The College is also a partner with The Posse Foundation, offering scholarships to urban high school students.

Alumni Community

Connecticut College’s 25,000 alumni live and work around the globe, as leaders and community builders in virtually every sphere of public and private life. Alumni, through their achievements and support, play a critical role in enhancing the College’s reputation and supporting its future success. Parents of students are an important constituency, serving on the Parents’ Council and giving their time and support to the College. The president will work to build greater affinity and support for Connecticut College among alumni and parents and foster mutually beneficial connections between the College and these members of its community.

The Future

In selecting its eleventh president, Connecticut College is seeking an individual who embodies the following capabilities and qualities:

Strategic Vision

Connecticut College’s president will frame and lead a strategic plan that will further advance the academic excellence, resources, reputation and visibility of the College. At this time in the history of liberal arts education, the president must be able to envision and articulate goals and initiatives that continue the bold transformation in the educational experience Connecticut College is undertaking. The strategic plan must address the more collaborative, multidisciplinary, global and technology-driven nature of liberal arts education to position the College at the leading edge of these trends. Underpinning this vision must be a meaningful connection with, and a commitment to, the mission, values and traditions of Connecticut College.

Collaborative Leadership

The practice of shared governance is a central tenet of Connecticut College, joined with a spirit of engagement and optimism. The president must excel at collaboratively leading the community in discussions and decisions regarding strategic priorities and resource allocation. He or she will find a dedicated and energized community of faculty, staff and students inspired by, and responsive to, thoughtful change in furtherance of the College’s mission.

Clarity in Collaboration

The president will have the opportunity to influence the direction and future of Connecticut College. In so doing, he or she must be able to communicate persuasively and with great clarity. He or she will be expected to join the national discussion as an advocate of liberal arts education in general and Connecticut College in particular. In addition, the president is a leader in the southeastern Connecticut community and, as such, establishes the College’s relationships with civic and institutional leaders in New London and the surrounding region.

Commitment to Diversity

One of the most important priorities of Connecticut College is to continue to increase the diversity and inclusiveness of the College community. The president must be untiring in promoting all aspects of diversity and inclusiveness and in recognizing their essential
contribution to the quality of a Connecticut College education.

Engaged Citizenship

Connecticut College deeply values the strong relationships of its residential community. The president must enthusiastically embrace the intimacy of the College and be energized by the opportunity to live in close proximity to its faculty and students. He or she is expected to be a visible presence on the campus, fully engaged with all constituents.

Personal Integrity

As leader of the College, the president must have a commitment to integrity and demonstrate the highest ethical and moral standards. He or she must possess outstanding academic credentials, including a terminal degree. The president must be resilient and demonstrate a strong sense of purpose in celebrating and furthering the mission of Connecticut College.


Connecticut College is in the strong and enviable position of being a well-managed institution that is on the rise. The capital campaign and thoughtful investment have strengthened and diversified the faculty and student body, increased the rigor of the curriculum, provided more varied opportunities for student learning, built and renovated campus structures and instilled a renewed sense of pride in the beauty of the campus. To continue on its ambitious trajectory, the College must increase giving in all forms — annual, capital and endowment. The president must articulate a compelling case for Connecticut College and present it with authenticity and passion to successfully secure philanthropic support and increase the College’s giving base.

The College’s resources come almost entirely from its comprehensive fees and its endowment. The president must understand the operations and finances of the College, including the complex interplay of admissions, enrollment and financial aid. The president also must understand the need to develop nontraditional revenue sources and be mindful of the efficient use of the College’s resources.

On campus, the president must be able to motivate and reward diverse individuals to maintain the excellence of the Connecticut College experience. He or she must operate with strong organizational and managerial skills in an environment that places a premium on collaborative decision making.

Connecticut College


The founding of Connecticut College was the result of the vision of a group of individuals committed to the education of women. In response to the decision in 1909 by Wesleyan University to no longer admit women, an alumna of Wesleyan and women from the Hartford College Club sought to establish a new college.

The city of New London offered the hilltop site overlooking the Thames River, and businesses and citizens of the community backed the fundraising efforts. The charter for Thames College, as the college was first known, was granted April 4, 1911. Three months later, the name was changed to Connecticut College for Women, and the first students arrived in the fall of 1915. The College became coeducational in 1969 and today has a student body composed of 1,875 men and women from 45 states and 71 countries and 178 full-time faculty members distinguished by scholarship and diversity.

Residential Liberal Arts

Connecticut College offers more than 40 majors in the arts, sciences, humanities and social sciences and has five established interdisciplinary academic centers in international studies, the environment, community action, arts and technology and comparative race and ethnicity. The College encourages an active, outward-focused vision of a liberal arts education. Students are expected to apply and extend classroom learning through programs for community service and learning, student faculty research, study away and internships. The combination of intellectual endeavor and active engagement in the world epitomizes the Connecticut College mission of preparing students to be responsible citizens, creative problem solvers and thoughtful leaders in a global society.

Connecticut College is a residential liberal arts institution with approximately 98 percent of its students living in residences on campus, creating a vibrant intellectual and social community with the president, faculty and staff. The College has instituted an innovative residential education program that brings students, faculty and deans together in ways that eliminate the rigid distinctions between the classroom and residential life. The residential experience is a defining characteristic of a Connecticut College education as it prepares students to live in a democratic community informed by the College’s principles embodied in the honor code and its practice of shared governance.

Connecticut College encourages the responsible participation in all forms of athletics among its students. About 30 percent of students are varsity athletes governed by the NCAA Division III, competing in the NESCAC. Many more students participate in intramural, club or recreational sports.


The Connecticut College campus encompasses 750 acres in New London, Connecticut, overlooking Long Island Sound and was recently cited by Newsweek as the tenth most beautiful campus in the country. The campus, including a stunning arboretum that serves as an environmental studies classroom and research site for faculty and students, is representative of the College’s early and ongoing tradition of ecological awareness and responsibility.


Connecticut College’s operating budget for fiscal year 2013 is approximately $130 million, with an endowment of approximately $225 million. The budget supports approximately $29 million in financial aid of which $27 million represents Connecticut College grants. Approximately 48 percent of students receive financial aid with approximately 43 percent receiving Connecticut College grants averaging $31,000. The Princeton Review 2013 named Connecticut College one of the nation’s “best values” for colleges and universities for exemplary academics and commitment to student aid. During the next five years, Connecticut College plans to continue its program of investment and campus renewal that has characterized President Higdon’s term and affected the campus community in positive ways.

New London

Connecticut College and the city of New London enjoy a strong and mutually beneficial relationship. The College is the second-largest employer in New London, and spending by students and families supports the local economy. Many staff and faculty members serve on the boards of local non-profit organizations. New London provides a welcoming community to Connecticut College students. Each year more than 500 students intern or volunteer at local agencies, including schools, shelters and environmental projects. The relationship between Connecticut College and New London is central to the College’s mission of putting liberal arts into action.

The Search Process

A Presidential Search Committee composed of students, faculty, staff and trustees has been formed to advise the Board of Trustees on the selection of Connecticut College’s eleventh president. The Search Committee is eager for input from the Connecticut College community and encourages its constituents to bring candidates of interest to its attention.

As an equal-opportunity employer, Connecticut College encourages individuals of all backgrounds to consider applying. Connecticut College is committed to the goal of achieving equal opportunity for all and accordingly does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, expression and characteristics, age, religion, national or ethnic origin, visible or invisible disability or status as a disabled veteran. The College complies with federal and state legislation and regulations regarding nondiscrimination. This policy applies to faculty and staff, applicants for faculty and staff positions, students and applicants for educational programs and activities. Inquiries concerning this policy should be addressed to the Affirmative Action Officer, Fanning Hall, Connecticut College, 270 Mohegan Avenue, New London, Connecticut 06320-4196.

Should you wish to submit a nomination or application, please send an email message with supporting materials to conncollegepressearch@spencerstuart.com.

The Presidential Search Statement in PDF format.