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    Tuesday, April 16, 2024

    Connecticut College President Bergeron to resign at end of semester

    In this file photo, Connecticut College President Katherine Bergeron offers opening remarks during a regional conversation on housing affordability at the college in New London on Thursday, March 16, 2023. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    New London — Connecticut College president Katherine Bergeron said Friday that she plans to resign at the end of the spring semester.

    The resignation announcement comes after weeks of protests from students, joined by staff and faculty, and a vote of no confidence from faculty.

    In a statement to the college community, Bergeron wrote that she has “thought hard about the events of the past weeks.”

    “And I know I will continue to learn from them,” Bergeron wrote. “I hope it is possible for everyone to do the same, for there are many lessons here. It is only through careful, honest discernment that a community can grow towards peace, wisdom, and justice. That is my wish for Conn.”

    In an email sent to the college community Friday, Debo Adegbile, the chair of the board of trustees, thanked Bergeron for “her visionary leadership and steadfast commitment to Connecticut College.”

    Bergeron joined the college in 2014. In her administration, Bergeron accomplished several milestones for the college, including expanding the school’s endowment, establishing the college’s newest curriculum in 40 years, and overseeing the campus’ expansion into the New London community.

    Neither Bergeron nor Adegbile’s letter spelled out the transition plan to replace Bergeron.

    According to the college’s bylaws, Dean of Faculty Danielle Egan would serve as the acting president of the college until the position is filled.

    Students began protesting in early February when former dean of institutional equity and inclusion Rodmon King stepped down due to a planned college fundraiser at the Everglades Club in Palm Beach, Fla., which he said had a reputation as anti-Black and antisemitic. King later complained about Bergeron’s “bullying behaviors” in a letter to the college’s Board of Trustees.

    King now serves as the assistant dean for diversity, inclusion, and belonging at University of Massachusetts Amherst.

    In a phone call Friday morning, King emphasized that “this is an important and necessary step in the community moving forward.”

    King believes that calls for Bergeron’s to step down are greater than his resignation and reflect a preexisting problem with her leadership.

    “These are issues that predate my time,” he said.

    He added, “It’s good to see that the community will have the opportunity to come together with a leader that will address the collective needs of the community.”

    Khadedra Neals and Shamar Rule, who are both juniors and co-presidents of the college’s Black Student Union, were leaders in the initial calls for Bergeron’s resignation and are proud of the outcome.

    “This says a lot. I am extremely proud of each and every one of the students on how we came together as a community. When beginning the movement, we knew there would be risks and retaliation,” Neals said.

    Neals added, “However, speaking for myself, that was not my top priority. As Black students, we could not be silent. We needed to highlight the actions of Katherine Bergeron and for change. And with the email we received today, we just did that.”

    “We accomplished our goals because we worked together in a way the college has never seen before. It ushers in a new era of Connecticut College. An era of accountability, of reflection,” Rule said.

    “We are now in search of a new leader as president. We are forcing Katherine Bergeron to be held accountable for her actions. Now we have to be able to move forward and put somebody in that position that recognizes the importance of acting with morals and values,” he added.

    John Cramer, the vice president for communications at Connecticut College said in an email Friday afternoon that the college has “no further comment at this time.”


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