Connecticut College Magazine · Spring 2011


On the cover: Writer/producer Lee Eisenberg '99 entertainS a packed evans hall in the first of a series of centennial "Conversations with alumni" in January. Photo by Bob Macdonnell

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The Campaign for Connecticut College
Sam Gould '06 and Alexa Ball '06

100 years, hundreds of reasons: Supporters tell why they give

By Barbara Nagy

Scott R. Williamson '81 knew he'd have to work hard in college. He just wasn't sure how hard.

He got a clue in his first French class. Professor Jacqueline Chadourne walked in, introduced herself and said, “These are the last words you're going to hear me speak in English.”

Williamson wondered if that could be true. It was. He got a D on his first midterm.

That's the story Williamson tells when you ask why he supports the College. “I didn't know what it was to work hard,” he said. “I learned how to learn. I learned a lot about people. I learned about myself.”

Annual Fund supporters this year have an opportunity to say why they give, and hundreds of reasons have come in. Common threads run through the answers.

But it's also clear that every reason is unique: “Conn completely turned my world view and started the spark in my imagination.” “Fulfill dreams.” “The school gave me so much and I am still so proud of it.” “Education is the greatest gift parents can give their children.”

We asked 10 supporters for their stories. Here are their answers.

Williamson, by the way, ended up with a B- in that French class.

'An incredible opportunity'
Marian E. Silber '66, New York City

Silber, fresh from a public high school on Long Island, wasn't sure what to expect at Connecticut College.

What she found changed her forever. “I met people from all walks of life. It was an incredible opportunity to be exposed to so much,” she says.

Silber loved the small classes, the friends she made, and professors like Ruby Turner Morris and Edgar Mayhew. She became active in the civil rights movement and developed a confidence and worldview that have served her well.

A retired attorney, Silber supports the College in part because of the strong, smart women in her class. Many were on financial aid. “If they couldn't have gone to college it would have been tragic,” she says. Silber's gifts always support financial aid.

Freedom to pursue her passion
Emily Logan '11, history major, New York City

Q: What's the most important thing you're learning here?
That recognized potential and hard work are the keys to achieving your goals — that, and having a solid group of friends to support you.

Q: What's your best experience so far?
A dinner at Professor Gallagher's house for his “Theories of Religion” class. It was a very memorable closing to a rigorous course that changed the way I think.

Q: Why do you support the College?
To show my gratitude to the school community that has brought me to where I am today.

'A one-of-a-kind environment'
Sam J. Gould '06, Arlington, Va.

Q: What did you like best about Connecticut College?
Challenging academics, a robust offering of sports, opportunities for leadership, accessible faculty, and peers who share your interests and work ethic. Everything combines to create a dynamic and one-of-a-kind environment.

Q: What was the most important thing you learned?
The lessons you learn outside of class are just as valuable and pertinent as what you learn in class.

Q: Why do you support the College?
The opportunities, the memories and everything that is now available to me because of my education.

Gould is on the staff and coaches JV girls' soccer at Flint Hill School in Oakton, Va. His fiancée is Alexa Ball '06.

A family tradition
Melinda Vail Killenberg '60 P'88, Durham, N.C.

When Nancy Vail Wilson '51 came home from college and told her younger sister Melinda about her good friends and wonderful classes, she knew she wanted to go to Connecticut College too.

Today seven members of the family are alumni. When Nancy turned 80 last December, they gave her a plaque with all their names on it for “The Connection” in the College Center at Crozier-Williams.

“Nancy was thrilled,” Killenberg says. “She was teary. We all were.”

The other alumni in the family are: Lucinda F. Burns '80 and Steven Vail Wilson '83 (Nancy's children); Timothy Vail Killenberg '88 (Melinda's son); Susan E. Condon '62 (Nancy and Melinda's cousin); and Lisa J. Condon '86 (Susan's daughter).

Beautiful campus, small classes — and basketball
Travis Reid '03, Newark, N.J.

Q: Why Connecticut College?
I really enjoyed the liberal arts offerings and the beautiful campus. I was also impressed with the small class sizes and a men's basketball team fresh off of a Final Four appearance.

Q: What was the most important thing you learned here?
Coming from a big city, I learned that great things can come in small packages.

Q: Why do you support the College?
It is a joy to give back to a place that has given me so much.

Reid is an analyst for the city of Newark. His wife is Tammy Clayton Reid '01.

Investing in the value of her degree
Alice W. Maggin '91, New York City

Maggin graduated from a small private high school in New York City and knew she wanted to go to a small college.
She also wanted to be close to home, but not too close. And she didn't want fraternities or sororities.

“Conn fulfilled all of my checklist requirements,” she says. “Then I visited and I loved the campus.”

A producer at ABC News, Maggin knows tuition doesn't come close to covering the costs of an education. “Alumni giving is vital for the school's continued viability and success,” she says.

Maggin also sees her support as an investment in the value of her own degree. The better the College does, the greater the value of her diploma.

Uncompromising standards
Bill Luce '81 P'14 and Beth Smolens Luce '80 P'14, Doylestown, Pa.

Bill and Beth Luce arrived at Connecticut College by different paths but love it for the same reasons — including the way it brought them together.

Beth grew up in the Philadelphia area and wanted to go to a small liberal arts college. Bill, the son of retired Athletic Director Charles Luce and brother of Tim Luce '79, knew the school well. It was Tim who introduced Beth to Bill.

The Luces value the uncompromising professors and small classes that helped them hone their writing and analytical skills. Beth is a family law attorney and Bill is a marine insurance underwriter. They're impressed by the education their son Nick, a freshman, is getting.

“It's a wonderful, welcoming, learning environment,” Bill says. “All of us who feel an affection toward the College should give something back.”

'You never stop learning'
Carol J. Ramsey '74, Redondo Beach, Calif.

Q: What do you like best about the College?
If you want to do something meaningful with your education, Connecticut will find a way to support you in that exploration, 100 percent.

Q: What was the most important thing you learned?
That you never stop learning. The experience of college is not to achieve a credential or permanent placement in a career track. It is to discover all that you are and to realize that all you learn can be applied to what you want to achieve.

Q: Why do you support the College?
There are thousands of teenagers just beginning the journey of the life of the mind, just discovering who they really are. We owe them the opportunity to explore their full potential.

Ramsey has 40 years of experience in education and foundation management.

Learning to listen
Myra O'Connell Ross '32, Sandwich, Mass.

What's so special about giving $100 to celebrate your College's 100th birthday?

Everything, if you turn 100 the same year as your alma mater.

Ross still appreciates her education. She worked for the Social Security Administration and — after raising four children — taught math.

“You learn to listen before forming opinions, and to be open in your attitudes,” she says. “After you're out in the world, you can appreciate Connecticut.”

Ross isn't sure how she'll mark her birthday in July. But she plans to be on campus in October for the Centennial celebration.

Making a difference
Scott R. Williamson '81, Wellesley, Mass.

Q: What do you like best about the College?
Great faculty, intramural sports, classmates who were like family, staff like Edna, Claire and Lou at Windham and Harkness. We went to Lou's house for the incredible tie-breaking Yankees-Sox game in 1978. I learned a lot about people and about myself.

Q: What else are you passionate about?
My daughter Laura was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1998. I run the Boston Marathon to support cancer research and she is a major fundraiser through “Cookies to Cure Cancer.” Her brother co-organized a 5K race last year to help. My perspective on this awful disease is based on what I learned at Conn about making informed decisions and doing your part to try to change things.

Q: Why do you support the College?
I learned so much there. I think I've made a gift every year since graduation.

Williamson works in computer application development, integration and business intelligence.

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