Connecticut College Magazine · Fall 2010


Alumni take the spotlight at Reunion for a photoshoot with Anne Reno Geddes ´93.

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Taking Connecticut College to a new level of excellence

Taking Connecticut College to a new level of excellence

With three years left and $58 million to go, four priorities shape the Campaign — and the College

By Barbara Nagy

It´s a hot july afternoon at Connecticut College. Students have scattered for summer internships, work and research. The library carrels are empty and most of the playing fields are getting a rest.

But this is no sleepy campus.

Surveyors are taking measurements for the new $20 million science center. A steamroller lumbers along a road being rebuilt by Harkness Chapel. At Knowlton and other residence halls, workers are renovating basement rooms and rebuilding bathrooms. And in Cummings, electricians are wiring three class spaces that are being fully redone.

The Campaign for Connecticut College is transforming the campus — literally.

In the past five years two of the largest residence halls were completely rebuilt. An $8 million fitness center opened. Thirty-one common rooms were fully refurbished and 12 now double as in-residence classrooms. There´s a new plaza in front of Shain Library, upgrades to heating and air conditioning, even a new deck on Buck Lodge in the Arboretum.

The Campaign is about much more than buildings, though.

Gifts are also taking a Connecticut College education to a new level. They are supporting hallmark programs that shape intellectual life across campus, expanding study-abroad programs, funding internships around the world, endowing professorships and providing financial aid that allows the College to attract outstanding students, regardless of their financial means.

“I see the impact every time I visit campus — every time I talk to students. The real impact is on what they learn and how they learn,” says Barbara Shattuck Kohn ´72, who chaired the Board of Trustees from 2003 to 2009 and is now chair of the Campaign.

“The world is changing and the education we provide — the cultural fluency, flexibility of mind, and ability to communicate that students need in order to engage the wider world in a thoughtful and purposeful way — has to keep pace. It´s the Campaign that is making that happen.”

The Campaign strengthens the education, and the education is the foundation of the College´s reputation. And reputation is tangibly important when it comes to everything from the value of a Connecticut College degree to the quality of incoming students. This year, for example, reputation helped fuel an all-time high in the number of freshman applications.

Fundraising is on target and on schedule — even though the Campaign was launched publicly in October 2008, weeks before the worst economic decline in recent memory.
Gregory T. Waldron, vice president for College Advancement, attributes the success to the commitment of alumni, parents and friends. “They understand the importance of Connecticut College´s mission,” he says.

With three years left and $58 million still to go, the College is moving steadily toward its goal of raising $200 million by 2013. As of June 30, 2010, $142 million had been raised.

“Connecticut College stands out for its ability to continue making substantial investments in its campus and programs despite these challenging times,” says President Leo I. Higdon, Jr. “The investments we´re making allow us to offer an education that continues to give students everything they need to make a difference in today´s world, and we´ve been able to make that investment because of the support of our alumni, parents and friends.”

Judith Tindal Opatrny ´72, a trustee and leadership supporter, says strong leadership, conservative fiscal management and careful planning are key to the College´s success. The Campaign has been well thought out; priorities and plans mesh closely with the College´s strategic priorities, she adds.

“We´re in a great place and moving forward,” Opatrny says.

To Opatrny, great teaching is at the heart of a great education, and her gifts include an endowed fund for faculty research. Professors like Michael Burlingame, Dick Goodwin and Ed Cranz were her mentors.

“They were true scholars but they always took the time to explain their knowledge on a level that students could grasp. I think that´s what makes great teaching,” Opatrny says.

It also is the basis for the close sense of community that many alumnae and alumni cherish, she adds. “I appreciate the really excellent education I received at Connecticut College. I want to ensure that the excellence continues.”

And that is what the Campaign is accomplishing.

“The Campaign is central to the repositioning of the College,” Higdon says. “Because of the Campaign, Connecticut College is what it is today and will have the bright second century that we all envision.”

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