September 20, 2021
Dear Members of the Connecticut College Community,
Over the past two weeks, we experienced our latest challenge as an institution navigating the uncertainties of an ongoing pandemic: a precipitous rise in cases of COVID-19 at the College that were quickly reduced thanks to your hard work. This week, we have returned to Green, and I want to recognize that success and thank you for your sacrifices and your support.
It took determination to achieve this outcome. With purpose and mutual obligation—and with many public health professionals by our side—we were able to turn the tide and avert a crisis. I know this work asked a lot of everyone. I know that not everyone agrees with all the choices this pandemic has forced us to make. I also know that when we come together as a community of empathy and care, we are able to accomplish the work that fulfills our educational mission. I am writing today to reflect on what the past week has taught us and to envision our work ahead.
Above all, we have now seen first-hand how the full array of prevention and mitigation measures—vaccination, masking, testing, contact tracing, isolating, and more—protects our community from undue harm. A nearly 100% vaccination rate among our students proved beneficial in dealing with the more contagious Delta variant and averted serious illness. Universal indoor masking helped prevent the spread of the virus in classrooms and other public settings. Regular surveillance testing allowed us to identify and isolate positive cases quickly. Contact tracing confirmed how and where the virus moved through our campus. And temporary limits on the size of student gatherings served to curtail broader community transmission.
I want to acknowledge our staff in student life, in dining, and in facilities who worked long hours and assumed extra duties to support and care for affected students; our faculty who transitioned to remote teaching in order to continue the robust experiences that set Conn apart; our students who dealt with changes to their academic, co-curricular, and social life; and our staff across every division—whether performing duties on campus or remotely—who helped keep Conn moving forward. Because of your resolve, we saw infections drop, with only one student testing positive on Friday, and no new cases at all among faculty and staff. That is something to remember and to commend.
And yet, just as we see the pandemic causing divisions in our society, we have seen frustrations emerging within our own community, divergences of opinion representing the many unique circumstances of our different members. As we go forward, I want to underscore how vitally important it is for us to come together to reframe our common work. This, in short, is an opportunity for us to approach the pandemic anew, to ensure our future success and wellbeing.
For Conn is not simply a campus where talented students live and learn; or where exceptional faculty realize their passion for teaching and scholarship; or where dedicated staff bring the highest standards of professional service. We are all of this and more—a college whose mission of educating future leaders makes us greater than the sum of our parts. Each of us brings our own perspectives and experiences, with families and friends that we love and look after. This includes all of us with health challenges or with family members at special risk. To prevail through these times means working even harder to keep these differences in view while honoring our collective responsibility. And that, again, requires empathy: the capacity to reframe our work toward our greater mission, our common good.
Our work together toward that common purpose harnesses the full power of this community and its mission. And I am optimistic we will succeed because this is Conn.
With good wishes and gratitude on our return to Green,