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    Wednesday, February 28, 2024

    Bergeron must resign

    Because President Katherine Bergeron can no longer effectively lead Connecticut College, she should work with the Board of Trustees to negotiate the terms of her resignation. The process may have already started.

    Whether this would be a fair ending to Bergeron’s nine years as the president of the liberal arts college in New London is beside the point. Bergeron certainly shares significant responsibility for stoking the flame that has engulfed her administration. She should have heeded warnings that raising funds for the college via an event at the Everglades Club in Palm Beach, Fla., an institution with an antisemitic and racist history, was a terrible idea inconsistent with the college’s stated values. The administration came to its senses in canceling the event, but that did not avert Rodmon King’s decision to resign in protest. Planning, King said, had proceeded far too long despite internal objections, including his. King had served as dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

    A large segment of the student body took up the protest, soon joined by faculty, culminating in a recent vote of no confidence in Bergeron’s leadership. Faculty overwhelmingly supported the no-confidence vote.

    Grievances have expanded beyond criticism of Bergeron’s mishandling of diversity goals to include staffing shortages, her alleged bullying behavior toward senior administrators, and inadequate student housing.

    Certainly all these problems do not rest with one individual and a change in leadership will not suddenly correct them. What is clear is that staff and students alike do not trust Bergeron to fix them. If she and the trustees turn a deaf ear and Bergeron soldiers on as college president, any steps she or the trustees take will be viewed with deep skepticism. That is not a formula for success.

    The trustees hired an outside consulting group to objectively assess the situation. That move too was greeted by students and professors with skepticism. But the findings could help board of trustees leaders persuade Bergeron, and perhaps themselves, that a change at the top is necessary.

    President Bergeron’s tenure should not be solely judged by this controversial end. As noted in our prior editorial, she led the college through the pandemic, helped expand Connecticut College’s connections to the community, and, despite her missteps, advocated for diversity, equity and inclusion.

    Bergeron has 15 months left on her contract. It is time to find the way to an early exit.

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