This year, in honor of Founders Day, the College launched an unprecedented giving challenge with generous support from Brad Brown P’12 ’15 ’20, Rob Hale ’88 P’20, Zoe Klein Henriquez ’99 and Raj Vig ’93. Together they pledged $500,000 if at least 2,000 donors made gifts to the College in the 48 hours between April 3 and April 5. When that goal was surpassed with ample time remaining, several current and former trustees pledged an additional $250,000, for a total of $750,000, if at least 2,750 donors participated in the challenge.
That goal, too, was surpassed, with nearly 3,500 donors making gifts to the College totaling more than one million dollars.
“We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and love from the Conn community, from alumni, parents, faculty, staff, students and friends. This is historic,” Vice President for College Advancement Kim Verstandig said.
The College received a record 3,400 gifts over the two days, a nearly 30 percent increase in participation over last year’s challenge. A record 2,000 online gifts were received in the first 24 hours of the challenge. Donors included members of the Class of 1942 through the Class of 2018, and even parents from the incoming Class of 2023.
“What a wonderful way to celebrate Founders Day at Connecticut College,” Verstandig said.
Founders Day recognizes the date in 1911 on which the College's original charter was signed by the Connecticut Secretary of State, but its history began in 1909 when the one men's institution in State that had begun opening its doors to women, abruptly closed them. Because more women than ever were seeking higher education and demanding the right to vote, a committee was formed to create a new college, and towns across the State began competing to become the new site.
A New London hilltop, later described as "the finest college site in the world," was the committee members’ first choice, and they asked New London to raise $100,000 to ensure that their proposal would succeed. A 10-day fundraising campaign exceeded the goal by $35,000.
“From the beginning, this little school on the hill had a broad and encompassing vision of higher education,” President Katherine Bergeron said. “We celebrate our founding because a very important kernel of our identity is housed there: our commitment to progressive, engaged, equity-minded education.”
The Founders Day tea, held in Shain Library, featured remarks by Bergeron and a performance by the a cappella group Miss Connduct. Other events throughout the day included special breakfast offerings, the ceremonial ringing of the Harkness Chapel bell, and birthday cake in Harris Dining Hall.