Conn faculty votes ‘no confidence’ in Bergeron
New London ―Connecticut College faculty, who in recent weeks had joined student protesters in calling for President Katherine Bergeron’s resignation, on Wednesday approved a ‘no confidence’ declaration against her.
Three members of the faculty confirmed to The Day that 149 voted in favor of a resolution calling on the Board of Trustees to replace Bergeron. Eleven voted against the resolution and eight abstained.
The vote came after about 30 students locked themselves into Fanning Hall, an administrative and lecture hall that houses the office of the president, on Feb. 26 in protest of former Dean of Institutional Equity and Inclusion Rodmon King stepping down in early February. The students left the building at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
The resolution calls on the Board of Trustees “to provide immediately a definite plan for presidential transition and the prompt approval of an acting president.”
The resolution states that the “actions and inactions by President Katherine Bergeron have precipitated among faculty a growing mistrust and loss of faith in her ability to lead and represent Connecticut College.”
“The Connecticut College community can no longer function effectively while Katherine Bergeron is president.” It adds, “that we, the faculty of Connecticut College, formally declare that we have no confidence in the leadership of President Katherine Bergeron.”
The faculty sent a letter to the Board of Trustees Feb. 16, emphasizing that the school needs “a fundamental change in how the college functions, starting with rethinking the relationship of the Office of the President and the Board of Trustees.” More than 120 faculty signed onto the letter.
On March 1, both faculty and staff protested in solidarity with student protesters’ message that college administrative leadership needed change.
On Wednesday afternoon, about 30 staff members protested during their lunch break in front of Harris Dining Hall in support of the students’ call for action.
“It’s important that when we move forward as a college, everyone’s voice is involved,” said Luis Rodriguez, who works in the Holleran Center, the college’s center for public policy.
King resigned in protest of the college’s plans to hold an event at the Everglades Club, an exclusive club in Palm Beach, Fla. with a history of alleged antisemitism and racism. A letter was later obtained by The Day, which detailed Katherine Bergeron’s “bullying behaviors.”
If Bergeron resigns or was fired by the board, Dean of Faculty Danielle Egan would serve as the acting president of the college until the position is filled, according to the college’s bylaws.
The last president to be receive a vote of no confidence was Claire Guadiani, who served as the college’s president from 1988 to 2001. She later resigned weeks after the vote took place.
Classes have resumed this week at the college, as midterm examinations and assignments’ due dates near. Spring break begins on Friday and will continue until March 26. Most classes were conducted remotely or canceled last week, due to the ongoing demonstrations in Fanning Hall.
Four members of the faculty who requested anonymity in protection of their jobs stated that Bergeron is waiting for spring break to come, at which time pressure on her to resign will “die down”.
Bergeron wrote in a statement last week that she and the Board of Trustees were “prepared to make significant additional investments in our DIEI division, programs, and practices.”
She did not comment on whether she intends to resign.
The college’s communications office had not responded to a request for comment on the vote as of Wednesday afternoon.