Remarks by President Bergeron
On the announcement of the biggest gift in Connecticut College history
April 28, 2021
I am so happy that we are together here — on Tempel Green, an iconic space on this campus, and on this new stage that has made it possible for us to come together as a community and enjoy the talent and creativity that defines this College. The events of the past few weeks — the TEDX conference, the spring dance recital, the cabaret, the a cappella challenge, Eclipse, the MOBROC shows, the late-night films — they have brought a measure of joy at the end of a long and challenging year. So for me, this spring, Tempel Green, and the Dune, are associated with good news.
And that’s exactly what we have for you today.
It is, in fact, a thrill for me to be able to tell all of you right now some incredible news. Connecticut College has just received the largest gift is its history: it is a gift from trustee Robert Hale, class of 1988, and his wife Karen Hale, who are parents of Trevor from the class of 2020. And their gift is in the amount of 30 million dollars!
Now, combined with their previous gift of $20 million in 2015, which was at that time the largest gift in our history, their total giving to Conn is now more than 50 million dollars!
This is an extraordinary statement, at the end of a pandemic, about their belief in this college, their belief in you, in us, and in our collective ability to emerge from this challenging year stronger than ever before. This gift will make sure that happens by investing in three important areas that were affected by the pandemic: our financial aid program; our athletic program; and our campus itself. Let me say a word about each
1. About the campus. Our historic buildings and grounds, as you know, are the heart and soul of the residential experience. They need continuous care and attention. Tise gift provides $10 million for immediate improvements, at the end of a year when we have seen how important living and working together in residence, in person, is to our mission.
2. Athletics. The gift also allocates $10 million for Athletics, one of the goals of our strategic plan. About half of our students are involved in varsity or club sports, two areas that were significantly impacted by the pandemic. Athletic competition is an important part of student learning: it teaches focus, teamwork, and leadership. The Hales’ gift will allow us to advance our action plan for competitive success to make critical improvements in our facilities and in coaching excellence, so we continue to attract the best scholar-athletes to Connecticut College.
3. Financial aid. Finally, $10 million will provide new endowed resources for financial aid. This is an area that is very important to the Hales and it is important to us. Conn is among the small number of colleges in this country that promise to meet 100% of a student’s full demonstrated financial need. This endowment doubles their commitment from their previous gift, so that we can continue to bring the best and the brightest students from around the country and around the world.
And let’s not forget, right over here in Fanning Hall is the Hale Center for Career Development, which came out of their first gift. So, with their two gifts combined, they have now invested
$5 million in career
$10 million in campus improvements
$15 million in athletics and
$20 million in financial aid.
This is transformational generosity – and it will touch the lives of every student on this campus for many years to come.
Neither Rob nor Karen could be with us today — but we do have a short video piece that gives you a sense of who they are and what Conn means to them. So let’s take a look. [Video is shown]
I think you’ll agree that the Hales have exercised a powerful vote of confidence in the future of our college, in the future of the liberal arts. This is a gift that defies boundaries, and it also marks a critical moment in our history, in a year that has truly shown who we are — a year when our creativity, our resiliency, and our determination to lead have shown no limits.
So I would like us all to join together to send a huge Camel THANK YOU to Rob and Karen. I hope it involves some vigorous cheering so they will be able to hear you across the miles and know that this is a great day for Connecticut College!