Recognizing 25 years of leadership, activism, collaboration and community building, Mayor Michael Passero '79 M'89 officially declared June 8 “Tracee Reiser Day” in the City of New London.
Reiser is Connecticut College’s associate dean of community learning, associate director of the Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy, and director of community partnerships.
Passero made the declaration at a Connecticut College event honoring Reiser, who will retire June 30.
“Tracee Reiser is a native of New London and has lived the majority of her life in her beloved city, contributing to all aspects of its diverse community,” Passero said. “In her role as director of community partnerships, she has led a team of staff and students, weaving together the world of the College and the worlds of New London and New London County into a single caring community guided by social justice."
During her 25 years at the College, Reiser has created and implemented a wide range of innovative teaching and learning experiences that develop active citizenship, enhance scholarship and contribute to advancing the quality of life in local and global communities.
She helped found the Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy and the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity, increased student-developed and student-led community engagement programs and built numerous partnerships between the College and the community. To support this work, she has secured grants and gifts from a wide variety of public and private sources.
As a citizen activist in New London, Reiser is active in Rotary International. She is past president of the Rotary Club of New London, former treasurer of the Women's Center of Southeastern CT and a former co-chair of the SECT Task Force on Racial Ethnic Balance in Schools. It was the SECT task force that created and implemented New London’s Regional Multicultural Magnet School. In 2008, she was the first staff recipient of the College’s Dr. Martin Luther King Service Award.
Connecticut College President Katherine Bergeron recalled that when she came to the College in 2014, Reiser gave her a paperweight in the shape of a whale—the symbol of New London.
“She wanted me to put it on my desk to remind me where I was, and to welcome me to her home,” Bergeron said.
“Tracee, who belongs to both the College and the city, never seemed to see a divide. She is all about building connections.”
The event began with a dance performance by Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School students who participate in ENRICH, an extended learning time program at the College created through a partnership spearheaded by Reiser. Connecticut Rep. Chris Soto and representatives from New London Public Schools, the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut, Rotary Club of New London, the City of New London and Thames River Innovation Place were also in attendance.
Soto presented Reiser with an official citation on behalf of the Connecticut General Assembly.
“People like Tracee Reiser only grace us in this world once in a lifetime,” he said. “Tracee, because of you, people like us are doing what we’re doing.”
In her remarks, Reiser thanked her campus colleagues and the people of the New London region for making the last 25 years so meaningful and profound.
“I have had tremendous opportunities to work in partnership with so many people and organizations,” she said. “It’s important to make time and space to come together in joy and gratitude, and I am feeling gratitude.”