President Katherine Bergeron

Katherine BergeronAt Connecticut College, we are committed to full participation—to building a learning environment where all people thrive, reach their potential, and contribute to the flourishing of others for the greater good. The Defy Boundaries campaign is the largest in our history because it aims to support this vision through investments in every aspect of the student experience: academic resources, financial aid and scholarships, career education, sustainability, the arts, equity, inclusion, global education, and athletics. 

Through this campaign, the donors who lift up Conn will help make it a national leader in the liberal arts. They will propel forward the initiatives that set us apart, initiatives that show students how to put the liberal arts into action by reaching across disciplines, communities, the globe, even across their four years. Here, students find that career education is not distinct from their academic work or their personal growth in residence. Here, students learn how deeply we believe in helping them connect everything they do in and out of the classroom to the good they will do in their lives beyond college. 

This same principle, this same determination, drives the goals of this campaign. To everyone stepping forward to support this historic effort, inspiring a level of achievement that takes the College to new heights, we extend our deepest gratitude. As this campaign unfolds, it is our wonderful community that will make Conn stronger. Together, we will defy expectations to show just how far this great College can reach.

Professor Sarah A. Queen

Sarah QueenAs the inaugural coordinator of the Global Capitalism Pathway, Professor of History Sarah A. Queen has taught students to address the practical, moral and ethical dilemmas business leaders face in the modern economy. Queen has recruited faculty and students to this unique Pathway, and given presentations about Connections around the world, from Copenhagen to the prestigious Aspen Institute.

“For the past six years, I’ve been very committed to building the Global Capitalism Pathway. I’m proud of that work, and now I’m grateful to be able to turn my focus to my scholarship again,” she said.

Her scholarship now includes translating two of the world’s earliest written commentaries on the Confucian classic Chunqiu, or “Spring and Autumn Annals” thanks to a National Endowment for the Humanities grant of $199,959.

The Gongyang and Guliang commentaries have exerted tremendous influence on Chinese political and intellectual life for two millennia. Instrumental in elevating Confucius to the status of one of the greatest sages of Chinese culture, the texts envision him as author of the “Annals,” bequeathing to future generations this court chronicle containing a hidden and esoteric blueprint for world salvation.

“This particular group of interpreters ascribed to Confucius a theocratic utopian vision grounded in a ritual order associated with the golden age of the Zhou dynasty. By decoding Confucius’ careful word choices, it was possible to reveal his hidden message to restore human flourishing to the Chinese world,” Queen said.

Queen has received numerous research grants since she joined the Connecticut College faculty in 1992, including support from the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship Award.

Professor Marc Zimmer

The Jean C. Tempel Professor of Chemistry is changing the face of STEM

Marc Zimmer

People of color, women and persons with disabilities are largely underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Marc Zimmer, the Jean C. Tempel ’65 Professor of Chemistry at Conn, is on a mission to reverse the statistics.

Zimmer, who grew up in South Africa during apartheid, has worked for decades to broaden access and interest in STEM fields, visiting inner-city schools to talk to students about pursuing the sciences, bringing high school students with an affinity for science to campus to participate in his research, and even employing a menagerie of glowing mice, fish and axolotls to wow elementary students with the wonders of scientific possibility.

The interest was there, Zimmer realized, but a variety of factors prevented underrepresented students from actually graduating and pursuing careers in STEM fields. So in 2007, armed with a grant from the National Science Foundation, Zimmer launched Science Leaders, a program he designed to address some of the biggest roadblocks.

Through the program, Science Leaders receive ample opportunities for applied research, intensive one-on-one faculty and peer mentoring, career counseling, and assistance applying to graduate school. Upon acceptance to Conn, students enter the program with a cohort of fellow first-year peers, who all share a common faculty adviser and first-year seminar that culminates in hands-on research.

“This approach creates a supportive network of science professionals, graduate students and undergraduates that grows and strengthens organically,” Zimmer said.

The program has been wildly successful. Since its launch, more than 200 students of color, women and students with disabilities have matriculated to Conn as Science Leaders. The first eight cohorts boast a six-year graduation rate of 91 percent—a full 8 percent higher than their non–Science Leader peers—and members have gone on to earn a total of six medical degrees, one doctorate, eight master’s degrees in STEM fields and six other graduate degrees. Recently, Science Leaders was recognized with an Inspiring Programs in STEM Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

 

Sally Susman ’84

Bringing the real world into the classroom

Sally Susman

As the executive vice president and chief corporate affairs officer at Pfizer, Sally Susman ’84 is busy engaging with all the company’s external stakeholders; overseeing global policy, communications, government relations, corporate responsibility, investor relations and the Chief Patient Office; and serving as the vice chair of the Pfizer Foundation and co-chair of Pfizer’s Political Action Committee.

But Susman, an emerita trustee, enjoys taking time out of her busy schedule to give Conn students a firsthand look at the challenges of running one of the world’s premier biopharmaceutical companies.

One spring afternoon before the pandemic, Susman and two of her colleagues joined sophomores in Professor MaryAnne Borrelli’s “U.S. Government and Politics” course for robust discussions about lobbying, corporate ethics, political action committees, corporate organization, and gender in business and politics.

“It’s a real treat for us to get out of our offices and be able to come here and meet students. I graduated in 1984, and we never had a class like this,” Susman said. “Weaving practical application into theoretical courses is an excellent way for students to gain an understanding of a subject. I think it’s fantastic.”

Susman’s visits to campus are part of Career Informed Learning (CIL), an initiative that is energizing students, faculty and alumni across the campus. Developed as part of Connections, Connecticut College’s reinvention of the liberal arts, CIL is a project-based learning approach to education that brings real-life work challenges into the classroom for students to research, analyze and develop solutions. CIL teaches students to be flexible problem-solvers, as well as to present and communicate more effectively.

Bri Goolsby ’22

Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology

Bri Goolsby

While researching race and representation in animation during the summer of her sophomore year, Bri Goolsby ’22 found that the history of animation is rife with racism and stereotypical depictions of people of color, and that today’s films continue these problematic traditions.

While the earliest cartoons were fraught with depictions of blackface, she found characters of color in more recent films often change into animals or other non-human forms.

For example, Bri said, “[In The Princess and the Frog] Tiana is the first—and so far only—Black princess in the Disney Princess franchise; however, she spends 40 minutes of the 100-minute film as a frog and only about one minute as an actual princess. This means little Black girls don’t really get to look up to a princess character, but mostly just a frog that runs around in a swamp.”

That research sparked the question that has animated her journey as an Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology scholar: “How can positive race representation in animated media raise self-esteem in youth?”

A film studies major and gender, sexuality and intersectionality minor from Wethersfield, Connecticut, Bri spent this past summer as an intern for Cultured AF, a New London-based art studio. There, she learned to record and edit footage of live events, connected with other artists of color, and honed her animation skills while creating animated advertisements for Instagram.

“This internship made me realize I want to highlight artists of color and inspire youth of color to pursue their artistic passions,” she said.

Bri is now working on an interactive website aimed at empowering youth of color through animated media, which she will preview at the Symposium.

“I want to uplift the voices and talents of people of color through a medium that has the tendency to be oppressive.”

After graduation, she plans to continue that mission as a screenwriter or storyboard artist for animated films or TV series.

“I hope to contribute directly to positive race representation in animated media,” she said.

Justin Nwafor ’21

Justin Nwafor ’21 prepares to make his mark

ACS-certified chemistry major Justin Nwafor won the prestigious Oakes and Louise Ames Prize for his senior thesis on fluorescent proteins that have recently revolutionized the fields of biological and medical science. 

After working for two years in Professor Marc Zimmer’s lab, Justin launched an independent examination of three glycines found in jellyfish, corals and sea squirts. His findings will soon be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, with Nwafor as first author.

Chemistry Department Chair Tanya L. Schneider praised Nwafor’s work as representing “an unusually high level of scientific achievement for an undergraduate researcher.”

A mathematics and physics double minor, first-generation college student, Science Leader and member of the varsity men’s basketball team, Justin completed computational chemistry internships with Rosetta REU and Pfizer, Inc.

This fall, he began a post-baccalaureate research program at Johns Hopkins University before pursuing a doctorate in medicine and in philosophy.

Teaching and Learning