What Does it Mean to Defy Boundaries?
How the campaign for Connecticut College will transform every aspect of the student experience.D
efy Boundaries, the campaign launched into its public phase in the fall of 2021, will set Conn apart among liberal arts colleges by enhancing every aspect of the student experience: academics, financial aid and scholarships, career education, sustainability, the arts, equity, inclusion, global education, and athletics. The campaign, which has been active in a private phase since 2017, has already attracted more than $200 million in donor gifts and commitments. Reaching the $300 million goal—the most ambitious in Conn’s history—will require support from across the Conn community.
“Together,” said President Katherine Bergeron, “we can defy expectations and invest in our people, programs and the reach of our reputation as never before. This campaign will be a pivotal step forward for one of the finest liberal arts colleges in our country.”
Read on to learn more about the Defy Boundaries priorities—teaching and learning, student life, career preparation, athletics, and financial strength—and how campaign support from alumni and the greater College community will propel Conn to new heights.
Teaching and Learning
Resist the Predictable
Conn reinvented the liberal arts curriculum through Connections, its groundbreaking approach to education that links each student’s individual passions with interdisciplinary coursework, integrated career preparation and global learning experiences. As the first campaign since Connections was established, Defy Boundaries provides a historic opportunity for donors to support a curricular model that has distinguished Conn in higher education and become a potent force for student growth and success.
Opportunities to invest in academic programs through Defy Boundaries stretch across campus, including enhanced classroom and research facilities for computational science, psychology, neuroscience and data analytics; global study; student-faculty research; endowed professorships; environmental and life sciences; and new investments in the arts.
The campaign goals for the arts have included renovating Palmer Auditorium and Castle Court to turn this complex into a new and revitalized center for performance and creative research. Funding for the initiative has been provided during the campaign through a $10 million grant from the Sherman Fairchild Foundation and a $10 million gift from Nancy Marshall Athey ’72 and Preston Athey, longtime supporters of the College and its arts programs. But work remains, and as part of Palmer Auditorium’s grand reopening celebration planned for April 29, 2022, contributors have a unique opportunity to support this Art Deco architectural gem and the future of the arts at Conn by naming an auditorium seat, either for themselves or for a loved one.
Listen with Purpose
At Conn, vibrant student life goes hand in hand with vibrant academics. Through Defy Boundaries, supporters are investing in campus programs and spaces to expand the opportunities for community discourse and learning from and alongside others. As any graduate of Conn knows, learning in the classroom or lab is profoundly deepened by the out-of-class discussions and debates that make residential living-learning especially meaningful. Plans that the campaign aims to bring to fruition include improved residential spaces, new places on campus for group discussions and forums, and activating sustainability across the curriculum.
For example, through Defy Boundaries, the College seeks to renovate the College Center at Crozier-Williams and create a modern campus center where learning, leadership, mentoring and social experiences meet.
The benefits of such changes are evident in numerous initiatives that alumni and friends have made possible with their gifts. These include the landmark Agnes Gund ’60 Dialogue Project and the Conversations on Race series, which have proven crucial to Conn’s ability to foster discussions of equity and justice.
Likewise, Defy Boundaries seeks to build out new programs dedicated to the study and practice of sustainability, which is important to today’s students and thus critical both to the relevance of Conn’s curriculum and to student recruitment. Through related gifts, supporters will help Conn explore new avenues for incorporating sustainability into the curriculum while protecting and enhancing the College’s environmental assets, from the Connecticut College Arboretum to the Thames to the Long