June 13, 2018
Dear Members of the Connecticut College Community,
With both Commencement and Reunion weekends now behind us, I am writing with summer greetings and news of the most recent meeting of the Connecticut College Board of Trustees on May 18-19. Among the topics discussed were the Campus Master Plan; the fiscal 2019 operating budget and campaign results; progress on the strategic plan; athletics; student social life; and new faculty promotions and trustee appointments. This letter summarizes items discussed and actions taken.
Campus Master Plan and Capital Projects
The main topic for discussion was the new Campus Master Plan, developed over the last 12 months in partnership with Sasaki Associates, and with input from students, faculty, staff, and trustees. The plan can be understood both as a conceptual analysis of our campus assets and their latent possibilities and as a roadmap for future facilities development and renewal over the next 20 years. The analysis revealed the great potential the College has to make more intentional connections among the campus’s different regions, by drawing out the strong north-south axis that defines the central academic corridor, and defining an even stronger east-west axis from the Thames River to the Arboretum Native Plant Collection. The goal of the facilities renewal is to enhance student success; to increase faculty-student engagement; and to improve campus learning, living, and socializing through improvements to academic buildings, athletics, dining, and housing. The Board approved the master plan during its meeting. A website offering details of the plan’s concepts and proposed projects is being created and will be shared with the community later this summer.
A number of facilities projects are already underway for summer 2018: We are at work converting Morrisson House into a first-year residence hall; replacing the artificial turf at Silfen Field; switching the analog telephone and voicemail systems to a state-of-the art digital system; and starting the preliminary design phase on Palmer Auditorium and Crozier-Williams.
The trustees approved a balanced cash-operating budget of $105.7 million for fiscal year 2019, with a provision for $43.3 million in financial aid, an increase of $3.4 million over 2017. A 3.75 percent increase in tuition and fees was also approved, bringing the comprehensive fee to $69,970 for the 2018-19 academic year.
The Board also reviewed the College’s strong admissions results for 2018. The College received a record 6,433 applications this year and well over 500 first-year and transfer students are currently expected to enroll in the fall—the largest incoming class in recent history. The Board also noted the growth of the College’s endowment, which is currently valued at $308 million.
College Advancement has had an exceptional year. It started in July with the gift of $2.5 million from Carolyn and Jerry Holleran, doubling the endowment for the center that bears their name. It continued in September with a grant of $5.5 million from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to extend the support for an initiative in faculty diversity in which Connecticut College was a founding partner. It went on to include the wonderful $7 million commitment from Pamela Zilly, the chair of the Board of Trustees, who will continue as a co-chair of the campaign when her board term ends in July. And it culminated with the news, announced in April, of two $10 million commitments from the Sherman Fairchild Foundation and from Nancy Athey ’72 and Preston Athey for the renovation of Palmer Auditorium.
In total, the College has received $51.4 million in new gifts and commitments for the 2018 fiscal year so far—a 400 percent increase over 2017 and the largest fundraising year in College history. This total includes the Connecticut College Fund, currently at $5.7 million or 92 percent of this year’s $6.2 million goal. Fundraising for the first year of the campaign’s silent phase stands at $77.7 million.
Strategic Plan, Athletics and the Student Experience
Progress on the strategic plan was noted during the Board discussion, including advances made in education, research, athletics, career, campus life, and sustainability. Athletics had another strong year, with six of 10 standing teams qualifying for playoff games, and 200 students named to the NESCAC All-Academic Team. The Board discussed ongoing work to transition the oversight of Athletics from the dean of the faculty to the dean of students and the development of a strategic plan to provide greater direction for athletics operations.
Efforts to enrich the student social experience were also discussed, including results from well-attended focus groups this spring. Feedback from current students will inform strategies to increase student engagement and expand social opportunities in the coming year.
Appointments, Promotions, and Departures
In the area of faculty distinction, the Board approved two promotions to full professor and seven promotions to associate professor with tenure effective July 1, 2018. Promoted to full professor were James Downs (History) and Heidi Henderson (Dance). Promoted to associate professor with tenure were Nadav Assor (Art), Waed Athamneh (Classics/Arabic Studies), Chris Barnard (Art), David Chavanne (Economics), Denis Ferhatovi (English), Priya Kohli (Mathematics and Statistics), and Mónika López-Anuarbe (Economics).
Two new trustees will join the Board on July 1: Dodie Sutro Crawford ’89 and Paolo Sanchez ’18, our Young Alumni Trustee. Two trustees were reappointed for a second, four-year term: Carlos Garcia ’88 and Eric Kaplan ’85. Jonathan Cohen ’87 was appointed vice chair of the board for a three-year term.
Finally, four trustees—David Barber ’88, Eleanor Hardy ’15, Estella Johnson ’75, and Mari Pellegrini ’69—will end their service this month, and were celebrated at the meeting for their distinctive contributions. Our wonderful chair of the Board, Pamela Zilly ’75, completing 13 years of exemplary service, was recognized in a moving tribute of words and music and honored at Commencement with the College Medal, the highest honor given by the College. The Board also voted a resolution of appreciation for Abby Van Slyck for her work as dean of the faculty.
Winners of this year’s faculty awards and Presidential Staff Recognition Awards joined trustees for lunch on Friday, along with seniors who received Fulbright fellowships and those who were nominated for the Anna Lord Strauss Medal, the Oakes and Louise Ames Prize, and the Claire Gaudiani ’66 Award for Excellence in the Senior Integrative Project.
The weekend concluded with the celebration of the College’s 100th Commencement on Tempel Green. Included in the ceremony was a memorable address from journalist Jazmine Hughes ’12, the youngest person in our history to receive an honorary doctorate.
My best wishes for a restful and productive summer.