NEW LONDON, CT -- Connecticut College has received the largest philanthropic gift in its history, a gift of $30 million from alumnus Robert Hale and his wife Karen Hale that, in combination with their prior gift of $20 million, invests $50 million in the College’s continued innovations in access, athletics, career, and an expansive 21st-century liberal arts education. 

The Hales’ latest gift, announced today at a campus event by President Katherine Bergeron, brings substantial new support to areas significantly affected by the pandemic, including financial aid and athletics, and brings the College’s campaign fundraising thus far to more than $170 million. 

“As our country emerges from the trials of this pandemic, Karen and Rob have exercised another multimillion dollar vote of confidence for the future of the liberal arts, sending a message about the transformative power of a Connecticut College education,” said Bergeron. “Their gifts are super-charging the momentum of a College whose spirit of creativity, resiliency, and determination to lead have been on vivid display across this challenging year. We are incredibly moved and inspired by their commitment.” 

This newest gift from the Hales’ prioritizes three areas: $10 million for financial aid, $10 million for athletics, and $10 million for immediate improvements to campus infrastructure. It builds on their original 2015 contribution of $20 million—previously, the largest gift in the College’s history—that set the stage for the current campaign. In total, their combined campaign gift of $50 million has invested $5 million in the College’s nationally recognized career program, and provides $10 million for infrastructure, $15 million for athletics, and a total of $20 million for financial aid endowment. 

“This College changed my life,” said Robert Hale, a 1988 graduate, “and Karen and I believe deeply in its mission, in its innovations as a liberal arts educator and in the leadership skills it builds in students. More than ever, our society needs the kinds of graduates that this College helps develop, and we are honored to help do our part to stand with them. We hope others will join us.” 

The Hales' new gift will impact three areas of importance made vividly clear by the pandemic: financial aid, athletics and campus infrastructure. The College has a longstanding commitment to meet 100 percent of every accepted student’s demonstrated financial need, which has grown with the pandemic’s severe economic impacts. Meanwhile, athletics programs at the College, as everywhere else, have been markedly curtailed over the past year, costing student-athletes entire seasons with reductions in competition, practice opportunities, and other sacrifices in their already brief time as NCAA competitors. The gift will support the goals and objectives of the College’s recent Action Plan for Competitive Success, which seeks to elevate the student-athlete experience through investments in coaching, facilities, and team support. 

Finally, the Hales decided it was critical to invest in campus infrastructure after a year in which students showed how much they desired the residential learning experience that is at the heart of the education the College offers. Thanks to the students’ commitment to safety protocols, the College has maintained one of the lowest rates of COVID-19 cases in the country for the entire academic year.   

“At a time of historic disruption, this gift allows us to do much more to support the education of our most talented students; build the strength of Camel athletics; and invest in the campus itself, which shapes the experience of every student every day,” said Bergeron. “Karen and Rob’s generosity is an expression of confidence and possibility in our students, who are rising from the depths of this pandemic to build a better world.”

The Hales’ gift in 2015 precipitated an era of accelerated progress at Connecticut College, a period that includes the launch of:

These initiatives are all part of the College’s 10-year strategic plan, Building on Strength, adopted in 2016, which expands the College’s educational mission and capacity to help every student reach their potential and contribute to the greater good.  

“When we think of this College, we think of all the outstanding students we have gotten to know, the friendships of our own that have lasted across our lives, and the powerful influence these graduates have on those around them,” said Robert Hale. “We’re excited for today’s students and what they are going to make possible for themselves and others.”

Robert Hale, who majored in history and played varsity lacrosse at the College, has earned a distinguished reputation as an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and community leader. Today, as president and CEO of Granite Telecommunications, headquartered in Quincy, MA, he leads one of the largest privately held telecommunications services companies in the U.S. and Canada with 1,800 employees in 14 offices. He serves on the boards of Connecticut College, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, Deerfield Academy and the Massachusetts Soldiers Legacy Fund, an organization that raises funds for the College education of children of fallen service members. Karen Hale has been an active philanthropist and a passionate advocate for many organizations in the health and wellness business. She serves on the Breast Cancer Research Foundation’s board of directors; and is a trustee of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where she also serves on their Cancer Advisory Board, Women’s Health Advisory Board, and the Brigham Health Community Care Committee. Karen is a member of Boston Children’s Hospital Trust Board, and Boston Children’s Dare Dream Deliver Forum. She is a former director of the South Shore YMCA and a past trustee and board president of Old Colony Montessori. Their son Trevor graduated from Connecticut College in 2020.

Connecticut College
Founded in 1911, Connecticut College is a highly selective private liberal arts college of 1,800 students located on a 750-acre arboretum campus in New London, overlooking Long Island Sound and the Thames River. The College’s mission is to educate students to put the liberal arts into action as citizens of a global society. Through an innovative four-year program, Connections, students integrate every aspect of their experience—from classes to majors to internships to activities to jobs on campus and abroad—into a meaningful pathway that allows them to synthesize different perspectives, solve complex problems, and contribute to the public good. For more information, see www.conncoll.edu or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.