Beneath the high ceiling of the Harris Building Atrium, officials from and the city recognized another centennial milestone in the college’s history.
The “Honor New London” event drew a large crowd to the building to recognize the 100th anniversary of the successful culmination of the fundraising effort to start Connecticut College in 1911. The college is celebrating several centennial events this year.
The college began in response to Wesleyan University’s decision in 1909 to stop admitting women. A committee was formed to select a Connecticut site to start a women’s college, and after selecting a New London hilltop they asked the city’s help in raising $150,000. After a 10-day fundraising effort, the total amount topped out at $185,000. The state of Connecticut granted the school a charter in April of 1911.
“I think this says a lot about Connecticut College, our founding values, that we continue to value and cherish to this day,” said Leo Higdon, president of the college.
Higdon said the city showed a “greater than average drive and determination” and “knew the value of a new progressive college.” He said the fact that the city’s mayor, Martin Olsen, is a 1995 graduate from Connecticut College, is an example of the relationship between the school and the city.
Higdon presented Olsen with a lengthy proclamation, recognizing such factors as the residency of New London staff and alumni in the city; the city’s public schools accepting Connecticut College students as interns, volunteers, and student teachers; and the role of New London as a “vibrant and welcoming host city for the entire college community.” Higdon said the college will look forward to a second century of cooperation with the city.
Olsen joked that he was lucky to be mayor during several milestone anniversaries, including the ’s 100th year in New London and the 75th anniversary of the Coast Guard training ship Eagle. He said Connecticut College has contributed to the community through providing theater, sports, and other events for residents to enjoy. Olsen also presented the college with a proclamation, recognizing the school for creating jobs, providing an opportunity for higher education, and for sending to the city volunteers whom he described as “among the most active” in the community. The proclamation declared March 1, 2011 “Connecticut College Day.”
Tracee Reiser, associate dean for community learning at the college, said the school has relied on the community since before the 1911 fundraising effort due to the donations of land to form the college. She said students have worked on municipal projects such as gardens and health trails and raised thousands of dollars for local causes.
“These teaching and learning endeavors have strengthened the liberal arts education at Connecticut College,” said Reiser.
The event was in conjunction with the last day of an exhibit entitled “Connections: Connecticut College and New London” at the nearby . This show featured photography from Connecticut College students and staff, as well as historic photographs from the college’s archives.