Connecticut College Magazine · Fall 2011


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A Time to Remember

A Time to Remember
Lisa Brownell. Photo by A. Vincent Scarano

Introduction to the Centennial Issue from editor Lisa Brownell

by Lisa Brownell

One of the best things about the Centennial is that it has inspired many alumni to send us their memories or record their stories as part of the CC: Story Project, short excerpts of which appear in this issue. History isn't found only in books and archives, nor is it the exclusive possession of those who have lived longest. Each new student, faculty member or staff person contributes to the story of the College and also begins his or her own personal history here.

With the turn of the calendar last January, the College reached its 100th year, and I arrived at a smaller milestone: 20 years as an editor and publications director at the College. This may seem like only an interlude alongside a century, but when I consider life on campus in 1991, it might as well be ancient history. Back then, we still welcomed a few members of the Class of 1919, the College's first graduating class, every year at Reunion. (They had received their diplomas just days after Congress proposed the Nineteenth Amendment that would grant them the right to vote.) President Emeritus Rosemary Park, who led the College from 1947 to 1962, was alive and well, and we hired a photographer to take a magazine portrait in her southern California home. Most of us did not own cell phones, and no one was using digital photography. We had no Internet access yet, no College website, no Facebook and only a primitive precursor to email. I exchanged letters and notes with alumni, writers and others and kept copies in bulging manila folders.

It's no surprise that editors like to save hard copy. So-called ephemera can be anything but ephemeral, especially when expressing the thoughts of those who are no longer with us. Handwritten notes in my files from the late President Charles Shain, Professor Charles Chu and his wife, Bettie, Professors Dick Goodwin, Bill Niering, and Dean Alice (“DJ”) Johnson, to name a few, look as if the words were dashed off yesterday. These letter-writers, who all lived notable lives to the fullest, also took the time to offer encouragement and inspiration to others, including me.

The philosopher Kierkegaard said, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” Connecticut College always has been and always will be a forward-looking community. It's been a privilege helping to tell some of its thousands of stories. I'm leaving the campus this September to start a new chapter in my life, but those stories will stay with me forever. I hope this issue will call to mind for each reader how Connecticut College has changed the personal histories of so many people in its first hundred years — and will continue to do so in a new century.

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