Sarah A. Schoellkopf ’97

Schoellkopf, SarahAs a longtime language teacher at the college, high school and middle school levels, Sarah A. Schoellkopf ’97 has a deep commitment to ensuring educational opportunities for students of every age. Sarah’s own experience as an undergraduate at Connecticut College was transformational. “I have pretty severe learning differences, and the Learning Center, the predecessor to the Academic Resource Center (ARC), made me feel completely seen and supported in a way I’d never felt at my elite prep school, and the professors at Connecticut College just opened my world. The first time I really felt like I could shine with my education was at Conn.”

In recognition of her formative experience at Conn and to provide opportunities like hers for students now and well into the future, Sarah has established an endowed scholarship as part of the Hale Scholarship Initiative, doubling the impact of her gift.

“I think it’s really important to diversify a campus racially, economically, internationally and in terms of life experience. I’d like to take the burden off students and their families because everyone is working so hard. I’d like to give students the gift my parents gave to me: to be able to focus on my education and pursue opportunities that came my way because I was at Connecticut College.”

During the college search, Sarah’s mother spearheaded a trip to the East Coast from their home in Los Angeles during which they visited a number of liberal arts colleges. Sarah was debating her decision but her mother recognized the opportunity presented by the Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts (CISLA) program, the vision of former President Claire Gaudiani, saying, “This is not what is being discussed on other campuses. You need to go here.” Fortunately, Sarah agreed and made the most of her time at Conn. As a Hispanic Studies and Sociology double major in the CISLA Center, Sarah met the mothers of the disappeared in Argentina, “the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo,” who came to campus, which led to a lifelong interest in this compelling story and a Fulbright Grant that brought her to Buenos Aires after graduation.

Sarah went on to complete an M.A. and Ph. D. in Spanish and Portuguese at the University of California, Berkeley in 2008. She has presented all over the world on her work on “Las Madres,” and is an executive producer on the documentary, “Norita,” about one of the founding Madres, Nora Cortiñas. She is also a co-producer for the award-winning documentary “Ferguson Rises.”

Sarah hopes that the endowed scholarship she has created will allow students, who otherwise might not have the resources, to take advantage of the exceptional and life-changing opportunities that Conn offered her.  “Historically, my main focus as an educator has been to get kids out of whatever zone they’re in and expand their minds, so I’m hopeful that this scholarship can help students get involved with some program, club or organization that they never would have thought they’d be a part of. CISLA was transformative for me. It was the most empowering situation I could have had as a young person.”

David Radic ’23

David Radic headshotWhen he applied to Connecticut College, all David Radic ’23, from Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, knew about life in the United States came from what he’d seen in movies. A beneficiary of the Edna S. Thistle ’26 and Marjorie E. Smith ’22 Scholarship as well as a second scholarship funded by an anonymous donor, David is a history and German Studies double major enrolled in the Global Capitalism Integrative Pathway.

With mentorship from Leo Garofalo, associate professor of history, and funding from the Richard Lowitt-Linda Lear Fellowship for Primary Research in History, David spent summer 2021 learning more about the lives of colonial-era African Americans and Indigenous people in New London County, using records from court cases in databases held by the Connecticut State Library. He presented his research at a poster session over Fall Weekend 2021 and plans to apply for a second research fellowship for fall 2022. David works on campus as a student advancement officer.

He recalls, “I received my acceptance letter from Conn late one night, and I had never felt so happy. In fact, it was such an amazing feeling that I didn’t want to open my financial aid letter in case it contained bad news.”

“When I opened the second envelope the next morning and found out that the College would meet my full financial need, it was unequivocally the most ecstatic feeling I have experienced in my life.”

Isis Torres-Nuñez ’20

Isis Torres-Nuñez headshotA scholarship recipient, Isis worked alongside Biology Professor Anna Bernhard for two summers, studying how droughts affect microbes and shape ecosystems. They even presented their research together at a conference in Germany. Isis recalls, “Working in that lab was a life-changing experience for me. Learning about techniques like polymerase chain reaction in a textbook is one thing, but to actually carry out those experiments, by yourself, is another. The independence that I was given in the lab helped me develop critical-thinking skills and lab techniques that will forever be useful to me.”

Meanwhile, as a scholar in Conn’s Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts, Isis also interned in Spain, with the Barcelona Institute for Global Health. Today, she works at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, as part of their COVID-19 testing program for clinics, medical centers and hospitals.

Isis says, “I look forward to going to work every day, recognizing that my efforts are contributing to our battle against this pandemic.”

“Without scholarships and research funding from Connecticut College, I would not be thriving like I am today.”

Maurice Tiner ’17

Maurice Tiner headshotA scholarship recipient, Maurice made the most of his time at the College, becoming an exceptional academic achiever, studying abroad and serving in everything from Conn’s Honor Council to the Black Student Union (Umoja) to tutoring at Jennings Elementary School in New London.

Through TRIP (the Travel, Research, and Immersion Program), he and 12 other students in a course on Black women’s contributions to the Civil Rights Movement visited historically Black colleges in Tennessee and Mississippi and other important sites while learning about the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and Freedom Summer, when white students from the North traveled to the South to help register voters. He was one of 17 students who traveled to Cuba and Mexico during a spring break through the College’s Study Away, Teach Away (SATA) program with Michael James, now professor emeritus of education, to conduct a comparative study of two distinct revolutions in nations whose populace is still living the outcomes.

As a senior, Maurice was awarded the Anna Lord Strauss Medal for outstanding work in public/community service. He has since earned his M.A. in religion from Yale Divinity School and has returned to Conn to direct the race and ethnicity programs, investing in the future of others, just as others propelled his dreams.

“Money may not always be able to change the world, but it can extend opportunities to people who will.”

Aubry Shaw ’22

Aubry Shaw ’22
A Hale Scholar benefiting from one of the two scholarships Rob Hale set up with his 2015 gift to the College, Aubry Shaw ’22 is majoring in environmental science and minoring in Hispanic studies while pursuing the Social Justice and Sustainability Integrative Pathway. As a sophomore, Aubry served as a student advisor for Shot in Spanish, a first-year seminar on film, and was also elected to the College’s Honor Council, which formally adjudicates alleged violations of the Connecticut College Honor Code and Student Code of Conduct. Aubry also works as a baker for Coffee Grounds, a student-run campus cafe.

Students scuba diving
Aubry is on the far right with Kayla Austin ’22 (L) and Ben Chester ’22 (C)


In the summer of 2021, she was one of three students who traveled to Costa Rica with Maria Rosa, the George and Carol Milne Assistant Professor of Biology, National Parks Trust, as a research intern. With support from a prestigious Bessel Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Germany, Aubry learned about the “blue economy” (a sustainable development approach to coastal resources), island biogeography, and coastal restoration techniques while acquiring SCUBA diving skills. She remained in Costa Rica for the fall 2021 semester where she studied in the  School for Field Studies’ Sustainable Development Studies program.

Aubry says, “Since I was very young, I have always had to work very hard to pay for things so I can truly appreciate them and their value. I have always been a hard worker, but I was still worried I wouldn’t be able to attend college. My financial aid package has been such a relief for me, and I have tried to work my hardest in college to reflect my appreciation for this. I am so grateful for my scholarship.”

Pamela D. Zilly ’75

Philanthropist and former finance executive at The Blackstone Group

Pamela D. Zilly ’75 made her name in finance when women were significantly underrepresented across the business sector. In fact, she became the first woman to be named partner at The Blackstone Group, an alternative investment management company based in New York City, where she retired as senior managing director in 2009.

Retirement never slowed Zilly down. An active supporter of the performing arts, she joined the board of the American Theatre Wing in 2012 and has served as a vice chair. She previously served as a trustee of the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust, and as a member of the business advisory board of the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University.

Her bond with Conn has continued to flourish since she graduated Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude and with distinction in economics and American history. She served on the College’s Board of Trustees as chair from 2012 to 2018. Under her leadership, the College opened a state-of-the-art science center, built the Zachs Hillel house, created the Walter Commons for Global Study and Engagement, and reopened the Charles E. Shain Library after a transformational renovation. She also served as chair of the Finance Committee and led the 2012-13 Presidential Search Committee. She’s currently a co-chair of Defy Boundaries, Conn’s most ambitious campaign in its history. 

“I am honored to give back to a place that has meant so much to me and my sister, Deborah Z. Woodworth ’72,” Zilly said, reflecting on her longstanding commitment to Conn.

Regarding the future of the College, Zilly pointed to the current campaign to help strengthen the residential education for generations to come. “Now is a time to be bold in our aspirations for Connecticut College. I look forward to my continued involvement in supporting the exemplary liberal arts education that the College provides.”

Agnes Gund ’60

With a $1 million gift, Gund endowed one of the most comprehensive intergroup dialogue programs in the country

Agnes Gund
Portrait of Agnes Gund by (c)2013 Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

Philanthropist, arts leader and social justice advocate Agnes Gund ’60 designated a gift of $1 million in 2019 to endow The Agnes Gund ’60 Dialogue Project at Connecticut College and build a generation of leaders capable of respecting and expressing a broad range of divergent ideas and opinions.

The Gund Dialogue Project combines critical theory and experiential learning to deepen intercultural awareness and understanding. Through workshops, interactive classes, cultural immersion experiences, community service projects, conferences and events on and off campus, students build the capacity to engage in courageous conversations that speak across political, social, racial and socioeconomic differences.

“It is wonderful to see Connecticut College taking the lead in educating students for a more just society,” Gund said. “I look forward to the flourishing of this project and to witnessing the changes brought by the capable young leaders who will emerge from it.”

Gund is the president emerita of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), chair of its International Council and board member of MoMA PS1. In 2017, she provided seed funding for the Art for Justice Fund, which supports criminal justice reform and combats racial inequality in America. She is also the founder of Studio in a School, a nonprofit organization that engages professional artists as art instructors in public schools and community organizations.

In 1997, Gund received the National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the U.S. government, from President Bill Clinton. In 1984, she received the Connecticut College Medal, the highest honor awarded by the College.

Debo P. Adegbile ’91

Carrying Conn’s ambitious mission forward

In July, when Debo P. Adegbile ’91 assumed the role of chair of Connecticut College’s Board of Trustees, he breached a boundary that has existed since Conn’s founding in 1911: He is the first African American to serve in the role. 

“I came to Connecticut College from the Bronx, New York, to pursue what the late Professor [Arthur] Ferrari would have explained as better ‘life chances,’ and I draw upon that life-changing experience daily,” Adegbile said.

“Our College is both inspirational and aspirational, and we summoned both over the past several months. Now we look to the future with optimism and resolve to continue to provide the transformative educational environment that starts in New London but reaches far beyond.”

Adegbile is a partner at the international law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr in the New York office, where he chairs the firm’s anti-discrimination practice. He also serves as a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, appointed by President Obama in 2016 to a six-year term.

Prior to joining WilmerHale, Adegbile was senior counsel to United States Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, where he advised the senator on legislative, constitutional and nomination matters. Adegbile previously served as the acting president and director-counsel and director of litigation of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., the nation’s leading civil rights legal organization. At LDF, his work involved a broad range of complex civil and criminal cases before trial and appellate courts. He twice defended the constitutionality of core provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in oral argument before the United States Supreme Court.

At Connecticut College, Adegbile majored in government, minored in African studies, and was awarded the Anna Lord Strauss Medal at Commencement in recognition of his outstanding work for the College and community. He is also a recipient of the Agnes Berkeley Leahy Award for outstanding alumni service. A national expert on civil rights law, he earned a juris doctor degree from New York University School of Law in 1994, where he now serves as a trustee. He also serves as the vice chair of the board of trustees of the Vera Institute of Justice.

“With his fine legal mind, his disciplinary expertise in civil rights, and his deep understanding of the role of higher education in creating access and in shaping the nation’s future leaders, Debo is uniquely positioned to carry forward our ambitious mission of the liberal arts in action,” President Katherine Bergeron said.

The Hales

Karen Hale P’20 and Rob ’88 demonstrate the power of thinking bigKaren Hale P’20 and Rob ’88

In spring 2021, Rob and Karen Hale announced the largest gift in Conn history—$30 million on top of their previous gift of $20 million.

Their combined campaign contribution of $50 million invests $5 million in the College’s nationally recognized career program and will provide $10 million for infrastructure, $15 million for athletics and $20 million for financial aid endowment.

The Hales’ generosity has already precipitated an era of remarkable Conn innovation—including ground-breaking innovations to curriculum, academic support, global engagement, intercultural dialogue and career preparation.

As priorities of our 10-year strategic plan, Building on Strength, all these initiatives deepen Conn’s capacity to help every student reach their potential and contribute to the larger good.

Beyond giving back to an institution that has meant a great deal in their own lives, the Hales hope their philanthropy will inspire others.

“More than ever, our society needs the kinds of graduates that this College helps develop, and we are honored to help do our part to stand with them. We hope others will join us.”

Financial Strength