Connecticut College Equity and Inclusion Milestones

This page contains only a sampling of important milestones in the history of Connecticut College. Find more information and historical information about campus diversity and global initiatives. Submit other important historical moments to


Connecticut College founded to provide educational access to women.


New London native Lois Taylor becomes first known African-American student to enroll at the College. She graduates in 1931.


A college committee calls for Conn to “include in their student [body] members of social, racial, and economic groups largely unrepresented.” Local newspaper, The Day, notes that Conn “will begin an ‘all-out’ program to recruit Negro students.”


The first class of men begins at the College.

The Connecticut College Afro-American Society sponsors a public conference on Black Womanhood. Among 13 invited guests was Dr. Jewel Plummer Cobb, noted for her cancer research. Dr. Cobb becomes Dean of the College a year later, in 1970. 


In addition to courses in Afro-American history, the College begins to offer: “Black Music and Its Place in Contemporary Society” and “The Black Church as a Revolutionary Institution.” Blackstone House is converted to a predominantly Black residence and Afro-American Center.


John Walters becomes the first known man of color to graduate from the College.

The First Fanning Takeover, May 6, 1971: About 25 members of the Afro-American Society stage a sit-in in Fanning Hall shortly after midnight, demanding increased diversity. 


The Afro-American Center is renamed Unity House and moves to Vinal Cottage. During this period, the population of Asian and Asian-American, Latinx and international students begins to increase.


Students begin discussions with campus officials about developing a Women’s Center.


The Women’s Center is officially established with space in the Crozier Williams basement.

The Connecticut College Gay Community was founded as the first gay and lesbian student group.


The Writing Center was established, increasing awareness about and support of students with learning disabilities.


Students officially establish the Gay/Straight Alliance. They later add “bisexuals” and “lesbians” to the title.


Student John Sharon helps to organize the College’s first Disability Day. Both a College Committee and an Alumni Committee form to focus on issues of Accessibility.


The Second Fanning Takeover, April 30, 1986: About 50 students take over Fanning Hall. The sit-in and subsequent collaborations result in an affirmative action plan, racial awareness workshops, and diversification of curriculum.


Judy Kirmmse becomes the College’s first Affirmative Action Officer and makes significant progress on a number of fronts.

Charlie Chun begins at the College and eventually becomes one of the founders of ASIA, the first Asian student organization.


President Claire Gaudiani implements the Mellon Initiative for Multiculturalism in the Curriculum, which provides funding for faculty to revise existing and create new courses pertaining to diversity. As a result, 28 such courses were created or revised. 


The College appoints Theresa Ammirati as the first Coordinator of Services to Students with Disabilities. 


Unity House moves to its current location on central campus.


The college implements Study Away Teach Away (SATA), a homegrown study abroad program, in part to expand opportunities for international education to students on financial aid. A few years later, financial aid is made portable for all study abroad programs.


The Dean of the College forms a task force to investigate the quality of life on campus for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.


Presidential Commissions on a Pluralistic Community at Connecticut College is formed.


Multiculturalism and Diversity Curriculum Sub-Committee of the Presidential Commission recommends numerous curricular changes.


The College forms an International Cultural Commons group with a grant from the American Council on Education (ACE). 


A Sexual Assault Task Force is established.


Armando Bengochea is appointed by President Leo I. Higdon Jr. as Dean of the College Community (later Dean of the College and Senior Diversity Officer). He establishes the position of Dean of Multicultural Affairs and works with Dean of the Faculty Roger Brooks to significantly improve diversity efforts in faculty hiring.


The College establishes an International Commons Steering Committee as well as a new International Student Adviser position.

The Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE) is founded as the hub of academic exploration on race and social difference. Dr. Cornel West was the featured inaugural speaker.

The LGBTQ Resource Center is founded by a group of dedicated students with support from faculty and administration.


The Women’s Center moves to Smith-Burdick. The same spring, Gender and Women’s Studies co-sponsors a conference on gender issues with Student Life.

The College establishes a chapter of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program (MMUF), which aims to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups pursuing PhDs and faculty positions.

The College affiliates with Posse, a national foundation that provides scholarships to urban students based on leadership and academics.  


STEM faculty establish the Science Leaders program, an academic mentoring program for women and students of color in STEM. 

The Office of Sexual Violence Prevention and Advocacy is established.


The Language and Culture Center opens to support world language departments and CISLA.


Connecticut College becomes a founding member of the Creating Connections Consortium (C3), a Mellon Foundation supported initiative aimed at increasing the racial diversity of faculty in the liberal arts.


Carolyn Denard, then Dean of the College and Senior Diversity Officer, establishes the College Diversity Council.

The College receives a large grant from the Mellon Foundation for the Initiative on Global Education.


The Zachs Hillel House opens as a center for Jewish life and intercultural programming. Rabbi Susan Schein becomes the first director.


President Katherine Bergeron decouples the Dean of the College and Senior Diversity Officer roles and establishes a new dedicated senior position, Dean of Institutional Equity and Inclusion (DIEI), to lead a new division.

The faculty vote in favor of “Connections,” a major revision of the general education curriculum that emphasizes full participation and requires courses in world languages, global-local engagement, and later, social power and difference.

Under the leadership of Victor Arcelus, Dean of Students, and Janet Spoltore, Director of Student Counseling Services, the counseling center expands staffing to include counselors with specialized training in multicultural and LGBTQIA counseling. 

A major in Global Islamic Studies is established.


Jefferson Singer, Dean of the College, leads a committee in submitting a report on Structural Barriers to Full Participation.

Amy Dooling is appointed Associate Dean of Global Initiatives and an Assistant Director for the future Global Commons is also hired.

John McKnight becomes the first dedicated Dean of Institutional Equity and Inclusion.

The LGBTQ Resource Center is renamed to LGBTQIA Center and the Women’s Center changes spelling to Womxn’s Center.


President Bergeron and Dean McKnight launch the President’s Council on Equity and Inclusion, a reconstituted group with broad representation. In its first year, the Council produces a new statement on and approach to Freedom of Expression.


The Otto and Fran Walter Commons for Global Study and Engagement is dedicated in Blaustein Hall as a hub for international education at the College.

The College joins the New University in Exile Consortium as a founding member. A threatened human rights activist and academic from India begins residency at the College through the Institute of International Education Scholar Rescue Fund. 


The College becomes an institutional member of the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD), which provides online support and resources to faculty.

The College launches an institutional affiliation with the American Talent Initiative (ATI) (ATI), a consortium of selective institutions, to increase access for low-income students.


The College expands its partnership with the Posse Foundation by welcoming a new cohort of scholars from New York City.

Led by Professors Deborah Eastman (biology) and Sufia Uddin (religious studies), a new curricular component of Connections requiring every student to complete two courses designated “Social Difference and Power” takes effect with the incoming Class of 2024.

The senior administration issues a statement about a focus on anti-racist education and initiatives for the 2020-21 academic year with commitments to a number of actions, including mandatory anti-racist and bias education for faculty, staff, and students.