Defying the Boundaries of Time
A new generation of legacy donors advances a Conn traditionI
n 1911, in gratitude and encouragement, bells across New London were rung day after day, marking gifts being given across the city to create a new institution, the Connecticut College for Women. When the bells finally went quiet weeks later, there was only one thing left to do: Have a party. On March 1 of that momentous year, a citywide Jubilee Celebration hailed the campaign’s results—every local citizen and business had contributed to the effort, shattering the $100,000 goal and raising $134,824 to create the founding Endowment Fund that brought a new institution to life.
It may be time for those bells to start ringing again. Two of Conn’s most generous donors, Karen and Rob ’88 Hale P’20, have just offered a legacy challenge of historic proportions that invites today’s Conn community to rally anew and bring the Defy Boundaries campaign home. See the sidebar on page 21 for the exciting details.
The Hales’ challenge continues a Conn tradition of giving that makes an enduring impact. Three months after the founding jubilee, Morton F. Plant made a $1 million gift that increased the College’s endowment nearly tenfold. Then bequests—like the Hales are inspiring now—started to come: 1,300 books and extensive scientific equipment from renowned scientist William P. Bolles; additional support from Plant to build Branford House; one-quarter of the estate of David Hall Fanning; and legacy gifts from sisters Virginia and Theodora Palmer that funded the construction of the auditorium that still honors them. Gift by gift, year after year, these and other visionary early donors converted money, personal possessions, buildings, land and more into bequests that lifted the new college, ensured its future and created a national leader in liberal arts education.
With challenges like the Hales’ helping to push Defy Boundaries toward its $300 million goal and all it will mean for Conn’s second century, the power of bequests has only grown. Bequests have built residence halls and classrooms, launched innovative educational and research programs, secured exceptional faculty through endowed professorships, opened doors to outstanding students through scholarships and funded new ideas that have become established parts of College practice. In making such a difference, bequests continue to do something few decisions in life can—carry the wishes of donors forward not only long beyond their own lives but, more significantly, also making that difference for as long as the institution itself will stand. This perpetual impact is among the reasons that today’s legacy donors see so much opportunity in this special and increasingly popular form of generosity. Generation after generation, bequests have continued connecting the donor, the College and the students of countless tomorrows who will experience the benefits of donors’ confidence.
Karen Quint ’87, for example, used her bequest to pay forward the gift of education that she enjoyed at Conn and in her family—both her parents were teachers. She wanted to share that gift with many others, including students far into the future whom she would never meet. “The college experience is one of the most impactful experiences in a person’s life,” she says, “and it is a privilege to have the ability and opportunity to give back in such a meaningful way.” She adds, “While going through the estate-planning process, it is natural to think of those you want to remember who have helped to shape your life. It was only natural to be sure Conn was a part of my plans.”
Carol Ramsey ’74 found the same type of fulfillment in her bequest. “Having worked for nonprofits most of my career,” she says, “I was never going to be among the largest donors to the school, but I understood that I could still be among the more consequential. Making a bequest to the College in addition to my usual annual fund gifts—as modest as I may think they are—amounts to something substantial. I leave a window open to the next generation of students, even if I cannot build the building whose doors they will walk through.”