October 31, 2016
Dear Members of the Connecticut College Community,
The Connecticut College Board of Trustees convened for its fall meeting on the weekend of October 21-22. I am writing with a summary of the major topics discussed and actions taken.
The Board welcomed three new trustees: Seth Alvord ’93, Jamie Costello ’89, and Chakena Sims ’16. Joining them were 28 past trustees participating in the second annual meeting of the Council of Former and Emeritus Trustees. The joint program included a plenary session on the strategic plan with the current Board, as well as presentations on the new curriculum and the student experience. It was inspiring to have so many current and past Board members present to discuss the College’s future in what has become a new fall tradition.
The most significant work of the weekend involved the College’s new strategic plan, Building on Strength. On Friday morning, members of the senior administration presented the goals, objectives, and specific proposals for the plan’s three priorities: enhancing academic distinction; enriching the student experience; and supporting a diverse, just and sustainable community. The discussion was focused on the specific ways that the plan will advance the College for the next generation of Connecticut College students. At the end of the weekend, the trustees endorsed the priorities, goals, and objectives of Building on Strength in a unanimous vote. The complete plan will be posted soon on the strategic planning website.
The College’s new curriculum was an ongoing topic of discussion during the weekend. The Board received a report on the 15 ConnCourses, the 31 First-Year Seminars, and the 5 new Pathways that were ready this fall with the official launch of Connections. Amy Dooling, the new Associate Dean of Global Initiatives, was present to delve more deeply into the curriculum’s vision for global education and a new resource center that will support it. This initiative, known as the “Global Commons,” connects world languages with work in the community and across the globe to create more intentional opportunities for local and global engagement for every student. The Board supported the idea of creating a new space for the Commons in Blaustein Humanities Center.
The Student Experience
Board members were also enthusiastic about moving ahead with plans to improve the College Center at Crozier-Williams and to relocate the career office to central campus. Other aspects of the student experience they discussed included the recent changes to new student Orientation and the creation of new first-year floors in Morrisson. Dean of Institutional Equity and Inclusion John McKnight offered generous impressions of his first 100 days at the College as well as an overview of his division and the work it is undertaking to improve the campus climate and to advance the College’s goals around full participation.
Capital Projects and Information Security
The Facilities and Infrastructure committee talked about the importance of developing a master plan that will align with the goals of the new strategic plan. Short- and long-term actions related to improving pedestrian safety on campus were considered as well, along with a preliminary list of capital improvements planned for summer 2017. The committee also reviewed the current state of our information security environment. For the second year in a row, Connecticut College has been recognized by the National Cyber Security Alliance for fostering a secure campus.
Finances and Fundraising
The College ended fiscal year 2016 with a balanced budget. In a year of volatile market activity, our endowment had a challenging yet still respectable investment performance. While we ended the year in June with a slight loss, the value has rebounded in the first quarter of fiscal year 2017 to exceed $283 million. Moody’s Investors Service recently reconfirmed our A2 rating with a stable outlook. The trustees acknowledged a few recent gifts: from a 1969 alumna, a $300,000 scholarship; and from an anonymous donor, a $250,000 gift to enhance the College’s athletics facilities. The Advancement committee also discussed progress of the Connecticut College Fund, which ended the 2016 fiscal year with $5.9 million and alumni participation of 35 percent. Our goal for the year is $6.2 million and 37 percent participation. Finally, the Board engaged in some early discussions of a future comprehensive campaign, including plans for interviews that will be undertaken this fall to determine the campaign’s scale and scope. Trustees also reviewed the new admission viewbooks that have been created for prospective students, as well as the newly designed CC Magazine, in both print and online versions, which tell the College’s story in a new and compelling way.
The Board conferred emeritus status on the following former trustees: Eduardo Castell ’87, Kevon Copeland ’76, Prescott W. Hafner ’80, and Kenneth Kabel ’76 P’12. A number of new international students joined trustees for lunch on Friday to talk about their first few months on campus.