Founders Day celebration launches successful giving challenge.
On a beautiful spring afternoon, Connecticut College celebrated its 110th birthday in style with an outdoor, socially distant and in-person event featuring live music, remarks from President Katherine Bergeron and, of course, cupcakes.
The April 5 Founders Day celebration also kicked off Camels Count, a 48-hour giving challenge that ran from April 5-7. The challenge was a huge success as over 3,100 alumni, parents, students, faculty, staff and friends participated over a two-day period, surpassing the goal of reaching 3,000 donors.
“We are enormously grateful for this outpouring of support from the Conn community that furthers the priorities of the College, particularly during what has been a challenging time for so many,” said Vice President for College Advancement Kim Verstandig.
Acquiring gifts from more than 3,000 donors earned the College an additional $300,000 from a group of generous alumni and parent donors who donated $100,000 for every 1,000 donors who participated. The 3,100 donors gave more than $570,000 to support key areas at the College, including financial aid and scholarships, diversity and inclusion initiatives, athletics and areas of greatest need.
April 5 also marked the official opening of a new outdoor stage and performance venue on Tempel Green, The Dune, which is available for academic and social events this spring.
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 Connecticut 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 very beginning, this new school on the hill embraced a broad and encompassing vision of higher education, and it is now 110 years old,” Bergeron said during her remarks. “And that is the vision that remains with us today. It’s with us, I think, in our mission of educating students to put the liberal arts into action as citizens of a global society. It’s with us in our curriculum, Connections, with its mix of academic rigor and real-world experience that puts global and local engagement at the center. It’s with us in our strategic plan, with its institutional commitment to full participation. And it’s with us in our wonderful community.”
Bergeron mentioned that she has been reflecting upon the similarities between the College’s first 17 faculty members and 125 students, “who gave all they had of brain and hand and heart to … build a college where there once was none,” and the faculty, students and staff who this year “worked together, like our founders, to build a college that would meet the challenges of this incredible moment.”
“As we begin to see the light at the end of this dark pandemic, that encompassing vision—our origin story—becomes all the more cogent and all the more important to remember,” she said.
“Then, as now, it is a story of persistence in the face of adversity. It’s a story of creativity and innovation. It’s a story of resilience. And it’s our story.”
The celebration featured a performance by the student band Teal Darts and cupcakes courtesy of NoRA Cupcakes. In keeping with tradition, the Harkness Chapel bell tolled 110 times at noon, and a birthday cake was served in Harris Refectory.