August 28, 2014
Dear Members of the Campus Community,
Today is a milestone in the history of our campus: the 100th Convocation of Connecticut College. Ninety-nine years ago, in the fall of 1915, our college opened its doors to a new and idealistic generation of women who, with their equally idealistic instructors, were ready to change the world. I am proud that this progressive tradition lives on in the men and women who now make up our community. Later today, on Tempel Green, we will mark the opening of this historic year when we welcome 533 new first-year, transfer, return-to-college, and graduate students; 16 new faculty members, coaches, and postdoctoral fellows; and 23 new staff to our campus. Marc Zimmer, the Jean C. Tempel ’65 Professor of Chemistry and the new Dean of Studies, will give the Convocation address. I look forward to seeing you there.
In this letter, I want to tell you about the work that has taken place on campus since May, while outlining some of what lies before us.
It was a glorious summer in New London, and I cannot tell you what a pleasure it was for me both to reflect on my first semester and to look ahead to what will be a critical year. Our vibrant discussions of the student academic and residential experience last year identified a clear appetite and path for reVision, and this fall we will decide on the future of the liberal arts curriculum at Connecticut College. A few dedicated working groups continued the conversations during the summer, thinking about ways to advance our career programs, expand enrollments, and prepare for curricular change. I want to thank Pamela Dumas Serfes, Martha Merrill, and Chris Hammond for leading these efforts; I look forward to discussing their reports and recommendations with you. I am also eager to continue the listening tour I began last semester, in order to learn more of your collective aspirations for the College and to prepare for the launch of a new strategic planning process later this spring.
Many of College’s hardest-working staff are busy during the summer months improving our buildings and infrastructure. I want to take this opportunity to thank Ulysses Hammond, Jim Norton, and the Facilities Management staff for their work, and to highlight some of the most impressive projects from summer 2014:
- After the first bulldozers arrived on June 2, the Shain Library renovation has advanced dramatically. I had the opportunity to tour the interior two weeks ago and I could see firsthand how open and inviting the new floors will be.
- Our 80-year-old power plant is receiving a major overhaul, and is now the home of four new energy-efficient boilers. Workers will be installing and testing other major equipment in the coming months; the campus will have steam by October.
- Two popular gathering spaces have also seen renovations. First, the barn dedicated to the Musicians Organized for Band Rights on Campus (MOBROC) earned a new roof, new exterior doors, and other interior improvements. Second, the space adjacent to the Oasis Snack Shop in Crozier-Williams, affectionately known as “Cro Bar,” has been transformed into a new lunch and meeting room available to faculty, students, and staff. Lunch seating will be between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, and the space can be reserved daily for meetings until 11 a.m. and from 2 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The new room, known as Humphrey’s, will have its grand opening on Tuesday, September 2, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. It will continue to be available for student use in the evenings.
- Less visible but no less important, some critical IT hardware and software have undergone significant upgrades to improve responsiveness and efficiency. Our thanks go to Lee Hisle and his staff for this ongoing work.
Two searches for senior staff members are now underway. Last week the search committee for the Dean of the Faculty wrote to announce the two finalists they have identified: Ann Devlin, May Buckley Sadowski ’19 Professor of Psychology and College Marshal; and Abby Van Slyck, Dayton Professor of Art History and Interim Dean of the Faculty. After further interviews and presentations, the committee will collect feedback from the community and make a recommendation for my consideration. I expect to be able to announce the new dean by the end of September.
We will also be continuing our search for a new Dean of Admission and Financial Aid. I have constituted a new search committee for that purpose, and the following colleagues have agreed to serve: Vice President for Finance Paul Maroni; Associate Professor of Slavic Studies Andrea Lanoux; Associate Professor of English Courtney Baker; Trustees Eduardo Castell ’87 and Eric Kaplan ’85; and students Olivia Chap ’15 and C.J. Robinson ’16. Bonnie Wells from the President’s Office will again staff the committee. The group will begin working in September and expects to conduct interviews in October and November. I am grateful to both of these search committees for their service.
Finally, I want to make sure you were aware of some recent good news. In August, the Princeton Review ranked Connecticut College among the top 20 schools in North America for career services – making us the only liberal arts college in New England to receive such recognition. For a second year in a row, the national organization Campus Pride placed Connecticut College on its list of the top 50 LGBTQ-friendly schools. And the website The Daily Meal again ranked Connecticut College among the top 75 schools in the country for the quality of our dining. You may read more about these news items at www.conncoll.edu.
We have much to celebrate as we enter our 100th year of excellence in teaching and learning at this very special College. I look forward to a productive year ahead.