April 2, 2020

Dear Connecticut College Alumnae and Alumni,
I have been thinking about you and hoping that you are all healthy and safe. Much has happened in our nation and in our world in the past weeks as COVID-19 has circled the globe. I wanted to write today to let you know what we have been doing at Conn to address the crisis and to thank you for your support.
To slow the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus, as you know, we made the decision on March 11 to suspend residential instruction and finish our spring semester remotely. Since then, we helped 1,700 students on campus move home and several dozen studying abroad return safely to the United States or their home countries. The 50 or so students in residence who could not return home are now relocated—and living at a safe distance from each other—in the Plex. In the same period, we transitioned over 300 staff members to teleworking arrangements. And, most impressively, our faculty, working with staff in instructional technology, made the herculean effort of translating their face-to-face classes to remote forms of teaching and learning. Classes resumed at a distance on March 25. While students and faculty naturally miss seeing each other on campus, they are all happy to be back at work.

Unparalleled times call for unparalleled responses. I have been moved and inspired by the creative response from every corner of our community. The collective actions reveal not just nimbleness and strength but also the progressive spirit, capacity for hard work, and openness to change that have defined the character of Connecticut College from the beginning. These values have informed our work with both campus and community partners. In the past weeks, Connecticut College has donated surgical masks and respirators to our local public health district; we have contributed residence hall furnishings to a new isolation facility for New London’s homeless; we are now working with a team in the city to make one or more of our campus buildings available, if necessary, to first responders as we approach the peak of the crisis. It has been a tremendous team effort, with staff in the Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy, Facilities Management, Student Life, Campus Safety, and Dining Services, all enthusiastically rising to the challenge.

We are working to support our students in new ways, too. A large number of brand new Camels were just admitted to the Class of 2024 from the largest applicant pool in our history. In the absence of on-campus visits, videos will be serving to introduce the College’s programs, people, and points of pride. Earlier this month, I sent a video letter to our seniors whose final weeks were so abruptly transformed. And this week, I sent a communication to the classes of 2021, 2022, and 2023.. My message to students is “stay connected.” And that is my message to you as well. We need each other now more than ever. The outpouring of support from so many of you to our Student Emergency Fund has meant more than I can say. Thank you for your ongoing generosity.
This Sunday, April 5, we celebrate Founder’s Day, the 109th anniversary of the College’s founding in 1911. In recent years, Founders Day has been synonymous with our annual giving challenge. While this year’s challenge has been postponed until later in the spring, we will continue to honor the day through a special virtual celebration. 
I hope you will join me for this Founders Day observance to remember the exceptional history of our College. It will remind you why you are proud to be a Camel. Look for an email from me on Sunday. Until then, stay connected, safe, and strong.

Katherine Bergeron