Dear Members of the Connecticut College Community,
I write on behalf of the Board of Trustees to convey to you that we have been deeply engaged with the developments on campus this week following the sudden resignation of Dean of Institutional Equity and Inclusion Rodmon King. Like President Bergeron, we acknowledge that the decision of the College to schedule a fundraising event at a venue that has been associated with discriminatory policies and practices was a mistake, inconsistent with our College’s commitment to equity and inclusion, which is why the event was canceled. Still the planning of the event sent an unintended message that has caused disappointment, dismay, and confusion in our community.
The events of this past week have also raised questions about the effectiveness and authenticity of the College’s work on diversity, equity, inclusion, and full participation, questions that require focused and meaningful attention. The Board, President Bergeron, and the senior administration will listen to, learn from, and—most importantly—take action to ensure that we better and more sustainably accomplish the goals that we set for ourselves in our Equity and Inclusion Action Plan. That plan is intended to “serve as a living document that responds to the changing needs of our community.” Our community is now expressing the need for more tangible markers of change and for progress. We are not where we strive to, can, and ultimately must be in achieving the important goals we set for ourselves in this area.
I want to be clear: Connecticut College remains fully committed to diversity, equity, inclusion, and full participation. The Board accepts the call to much more effectively ensure that all members of our community experience, and not just hear about, that commitment. The power of diversity, equity, inclusion, and full participation is measured in experiences, and fostering a community where those experiences benefit everyone must be our focus.
We know that several critical concerns have been addressed to President Bergeron and to members of the senior administration and Alumni Board this week. We want to assure you of the totality of our collective commitment to support our students, faculty, staff, and alumni in addressing these concerns in accordance with Conn’s values. The Board will bring focus to the full range of concerns that have been raised and, together with President Bergeron, will recommit to effective administrative leadership and our DEI values.
As some initial steps to express our commitment more concretely, the Board will:
We know that there is more listening to do, more perspective to build, more understanding to gain, and more actions to take. We also feel the depth and urgency of realizing the Equity and Inclusion Plan vision and expanding upon it as we go. We are a community that values and grows from sharing perspectives and listening to each other, both when we agree and disagree, and from thoughtful engagement.
Like the nation, our campus and extended Conn community must grapple with the ways in which race exists as a line that too often divides or separates rather than expands understanding. Making Conn College a better community for all is essential, and it is work we must all embrace. Together we stand focused on this shared and vital goal.
Debo P. Adegbile ’91
Chair, Board of Trustees