September 3, 2015
Dear Members of the Campus Community,
It was exactly 100 years ago, in the fall of 1915, that we welcomed our very first students to this hill to begin their education at Connecticut College. Later today, on Tempel Green, we will commemorate this historic anniversary at our 101st Convocation, when we greet 508 new first-year, transfer, and return-to-college students; 17 new faculty members and postdoctoral fellows; and 20 new staff members recently arrived on our campus. Jefferson Singer, dean of the College and the Faulk Foundation Professor of Psychology, will give the Convocation address. I hope to see as many of you there as possible – staff, faculty, and students from the classes of 2016, 2017, and 2018 – to cheer on the newest members of our community. An all-campus picnic will follow.
In this letter, I want to bring you up to date on some of the work that we have undertaken this summer, and then outline what lies ahead for the 2015-16 academic year.
In the summer months, our staff is always hard at work enhancing our campus, improving both visible and invisible aspects of our buildings and infrastructure. This year was more ambitious than most. Here are some of the highlights from summer 2015:
- Contractors have been busy for the past several weeks replacing the roofs of both Dayton Arena and the Joanne and Nathan Cummings Art Center. Both have been complex and meticulous renovation projects, which should be complete later this month.
- More than 120 rooms in Blackstone and Katharine Blunt have been outfitted with new furniture.
- A new kitchen in Ruane’s Den, to be completed this month, will allow the space to become a completely student-run venture. This new offshoot of the Coffee Closet in Cummings Arts Center will be renamed Walk-in Coffee Closet at Ruane’s Den or “The Walk-In.”
- New steam pipes are being installed near Smith and Burdick houses, in a continuing project that should be complete by October.
I want to take this opportunity to thank Ulysses Hammond, vice president for administration, and Jim Norton, director of facilities management, along with the entire Facilities Management staff for their ongoing dedication.
The past several weeks have seen the arrival of new staff to Connecticut College, including some talented new deans and directors. In August, the Office of the Dean of the College welcomed Marina Melendez as the new dean of juniors and seniors; and today our career office is welcoming Kenneth Koopmans as its new executive director. We are pleased to have such talented new personnel working on behalf of our students. During the summer, we also began searching for a new dean of multicultural affairs and a new Title IX coordinator. The searches for these positions should be complete in the next few weeks.
In the spring, I announced the December retirement of Paul Maroni, vice president for finance, and the continuation of our search for a new dean of institutional equity and inclusion. We have now engaged professional search firms to help us with the recruitment of both of these important senior positions. The two search committees, which were announced earlier in the summer, will begin reviewing candidates in October. We expect to make the two appointments before the end of December. I am grateful to David Canton, associate professor of history, for serving as interim dean of institutional equity and inclusion until the new permanent dean begins.
Ulysses Hammond will retire at the end of October after 15 years of remarkable service to the College. Plans for his successor will be announced in the coming weeks. I am very pleased that Jim Norton has agreed to serve as interim vice president for administration following Ulysses’s departure. Appropriate celebratory gatherings acknowledging both Paul and Ulysses for their extraordinary contributions will be arranged soon.
The past year has been one of significant transformation and change. In May, our faculty ratified the “Connections” curriculum, a bold new approach to integrative liberal education. With this new vision for our academic program, we have an obligation to reflect more broadly on our future. The major work for the coming year, then, will be the creation of a new strategic plan for Connecticut College. The planning process will engage the whole community — students, faculty, staff, trustees, alumni, parents and friends — in identifying the College’s major goals and priorities for the next five to ten years. A strategic planning committee will be formed to help guide the conversation. John Nugent, director of institutional research and planning, is assisting us in this process. You will receive more information about the committee and the process shortly. In the meantime, I invite your enthusiastic participation in what will be a critical year of planning for our future.
Let me conclude with several pieces of good news. First, I am delighted to tell you that, this year, we surpassed our Annual Fund goal of $5.3 million by another $0.3 million, a record achievement. Annual giving supports every aspect of the Connecticut College experience, and I commend Ann Goodwin, vice president for advancement, and the entire Advancement staff for their outstanding work in the past year.
Forbes magazine ranked Connecticut College 16th on its list of Top 50 Startup Schools: America’s Most Entrepreneurial Colleges. The recognition included a nice mention of our Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy, which celebrates its 20th anniversary next April.
And just this week, the College’s dining options were once again ranked in the top 50 in the country by The Daily Meal. This is a testament to the work of Ingrid Bushwack, director of dining services, and her wonderful staff.
We have much to celebrate – and much to do – as we enter our 101st year. As always, I look forward to working with all of you on these important projects for the future of our College.