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Connecticut College defies boundaries with a $317.5 million record-breaking campaign.
hen Defy Boundaries began in 2017 as the most ambitious campaign in Connecticut College’s history, the hope was to raise $300 million in seven years, a sum $100 million greater than the College’s previous campaign.
Somehow, though, the idea of shattering expectations inspired alumni, parents, trustees and friends to do even more. Defy Boundaries not only reached but also exceeded its audacious goal one year ahead of schedule, raising a total of $317.5 million in new contributions in just six years—including $70 million in the last 90 days of fiscal year 2023—to help current and future generations of students achieve their dreams.
“Our Conn community has resoundingly affirmed the cause of a College that has been defying boundaries for more than 100 years,” said former Vice President for Advancement Kim Verstandig P’23. “We are profoundly grateful for the many donors whose generosity and commitment made this historic achievement possible and for all it means to the learning and growth of our students today and in the future.”
The campaign was so true to its name, in fact, that five out of its six years defied the odds and produced the most successful individual fundraising years in Conn history. More than 14,000 donors of every level stepped forward, allowing Defy Boundaries to achieve success across all priorities: teaching and learning, equity and inclusion, student life and athletics, career preparation, sustainability and financial strength.
Among the highlights:
A Dramatic Increase in Conn’s Endowment: Donors contributed an astounding $156 million to Conn’s endowment through gifts, pledges and bequest intentions. This support lifted Conn’s endowment by 80% and boosts the College’s perpetual resource for scholarships, faculty excellence and innovative programs.
New Financial Aid: Donors contributed $46 million in new gifts and commitments for much-needed financial aid to help make a Conn education even more accessible to the most worthy and talented students.
Numerous Campus Improvements: Donors contributed $67 million to fund essential capital projects, creating new spaces for students to build community and advance scholarship, creative expression and research. New and renovated facilities made possible by these gifts include the Athey Center for Performance and Research at Palmer Auditorium, an addition to the Athletic Center, the renovation of the College Center at Crozier-Williams, the new Hale Center for Career Development, the new Otto and Fran Walter Commons for Global Study and Engagement, the new Stark Center for the Moving Image, and the revitalization of the Kohn Waterfront and Archibald Way.
Unprecedented Growth in Annual Support: Defy Boundaries donors directed $83 million to the Annual Fund and various educational and co-curricular programming initiatives that enrich the overall student experience. Yearly contributions to the Annual Fund grew by 16% during the campaign.
Extensive Support for Equity and Inclusion:Donors contributed more than $22 million in endowment and annual gifts to support such endeavors as the landmark Agnes Gund ’60 Dialogue Project, the Conversations on Race series, Hillel and related initiatives. These projects boost student coursework on social difference and power and advance this generation’s capacity for empathetic, substantive engagement.
“The success of Defy Boundaries is a testament to the extraordinary generosity and dedication of our alumni, parents and friends and their deep commitment to the liberal arts and the transformative influence of a Conn education,” campaign Co-Chair Pamela D. Zilly ’75 said. “Their giving has reshaped the future of the College and forever strengthened its ability to prepare students for lives of impact and meaning.”
President Emerita Katherine Bergeron said, “It’s beyond remarkable what our wonderful donors have done for this College. They have, quite literally, taken Conn to new heights with their historic generosity, defying all expectations. Conn now stands ready as never before to offer the kind of life-changing education that will give generations of students the tools for future leadership and success, carrying on this College’s founding mission. We could not be more grateful.”