NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut College President Katherine Bergeron will step down from her position at the end of the summer, she announced on Friday following weeks of calls for her to resign.
“Certainly, the road has not always been easy,” Bergeron wrote in her announcement. “It never is, when the work is so important and the goals so ambitious. The past several weeks have proven particularly challenging, and as president, I fully accept my share of responsibility for the circumstances that have led us to this moment.”
Bergeron has led the New London college for the last nine years. She has more than a year remaining on her term.
The more recent days of her tenure have been roiled in calls for her resignation, including a student takeover of the administration building and a letter signed by more than 150 faculty members spelling out their concerns to the college’s board of trustees.
The demands came after Rodman King, the dean of institutional equity, resigned in protest when he learned that the college would host a fundraiser at the Everglades Club in Palm Beach, Florida. Students said that the club has a history of racial discrimination and antisemitism.
In her announcement, Bergeron said she informed the board of trustees this week of her departure.
“I have loved my time at Conn.,” she wrote. “It has been an honor to serve this College for the past nine and a half years. Together, we have accomplished a great deal, from renovating our approach to the liberal arts, to transforming our campus landscape, to navigating our way through a global pandemic. I remain indebted to so many people — students, faculty, staff, senior leaders, trustees, alumni, parents, and colleagues here in New London and beyond — whose talent, conviction and generosity have made this work possible.”
She wrote that she devoted herself to “advancing educational excellence and equity at this College.”
“I care deeply — and I always have — for the success of our faculty, the well-being of our staff, and above all, the intellectual, social, and professional development of our students. My decision to leave at this moment is for the good of all these things.”
She said she has “thought hard about the events of the past weeks, and I know I will continue to learn from them.”
“I hope it is possible for everyone to do the same, for there are many lessons here,” she wrote. “It is only through careful, honest discernment that a community can grow towards peace, wisdom, and justice. That is my wish for Conn.”
The Connecticut College Board of Trustees shared an announcement listing Bergeron’s achievements at the university, including creating a 10-year plan and raising more than $260 million in the Defy Boundaries campaign.
“The Board thanks President Bergeron for her visionary leadership and steadfast commitment to Connecticut College,” Debo Adegbile, the chair of the board of trustees, wrote. “During her tenure, she has championed the College in advancing our mission and goals, led us through the challenges of the pandemic, and recommitted our community to put the liberal arts into action. We are very grateful for her years of dedication and service.”
The search now begins for the next president. Adegbile wrote that a search committee will include employees, students and trustees. An interim president will also be named.
“Over the last several weeks our focus has been drawn to areas in which the College can better execute its mission, including the area of equity, inclusion, and full participation,” Adegbile wrote. “Constructive dialogue among students, staff, faculty administrators, and trustees has already begun to clarify an approach to the next phase of work we need to do to improve the Conn College experience for everyone. The Board remains committed to providing additional resources to advance campus DIEI work, and to assess ways to support the community more broadly as plans come into sharper focus. Our College is at its finest, after all, when students, staff, faculty, administrators, and trustees work together to deliver an exceptional educational experience for all.”
Students weren’t shocked at the development on Friday.
“I’m not surprised, honestly, cause at this point, no one respects her,” said Zachary Scoddard, a freshman. “None of the faculty or students respect her, so she couldn’t effectively lead this community.”
It’s a first step to students’ demands, according to Lyndon Inglis, the founder of The People of Color Alliance.
The protesters are considering the resignation a victory.
“You know, it’s very powerful to see that by coming together as students, faculty and staff, that we’ve been able to achieve one of our biggest goals,” said Shamar Rule, a junion.