Connecticut College

This article is about the liberal arts college in New London, Connecticut. For the public university in Storrs, Connecticut, see University of Connecticut.

Coordinates: 41°22′42.36″N 72°06′16.81″W / 41.3784333°N 72.1046694°W / 41.3784333; -72.1046694

Connecticut College
Motto Tanquam lignum quod plantatum est secus decursus aquarum
Motto in English
"Like a tree planted by rivers of water" (that bringeth forth its fruit in its season. – Psalm 1:3)
Type Private
Established April 1911
Endowment $283.9 million (2015)[1]
President Katherine Bergeron
Academic staff
179 full-time
Administrative staff
512 full-time
Undergraduates 1,915
Postgraduates 7
Location New London, Connecticut, U.S.
Campus Suburban
Colors Blue and White[2]
Athletics NCAA Division III - NESCAC
Mascot Camel
Affiliations NESCAC

Connecticut College (Conn College or Conn) is a private liberal arts college located in New London, Connecticut. Connecticut College is a primarily residential, four-year undergraduate institution, with nearly all of its approximately 1,900 students living on campus.[3] Students choose courses from 41 majors, including an interdisciplinary, self-designed major.[4] The college was founded in 1911 as "Connecticut College for Women", in response to Wesleyan University closing its doors to women in 1909; it shortened its name to "Connecticut College" in 1969 when it began admitting men.

Forbes ranked Connecticut College 81st in its 2016 overall list, 45th in the Northeast, 68th among private colleges, and 39th among liberal arts schools. Forbes also ranked Connecticut College 58th in "Grateful Grads".[5] U.S. News & World Report ranked the school 45th among the top liberal arts colleges in 2014.[6] The college competes athletically in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC).


Admissions Building on the Chapel Green
Harkness Chapel at sunset

20th century

The college was chartered in 1911 in response to Wesleyan University's decision to stop admitting women.[7][8] Elizabeth C. Wright and other Wesleyan alumnae convinced others to found this new college, espousing the increasing desire among women for higher education.[9][10] To that end, the institution was founded as the Connecticut College for Women. Financial assistance from the city of New London, its residents, and a number of wealthy benefactors gave the college its initial endowment. The land upon which the college sits was a dairy farm owned by Charles P. Alexander of Waterford. He died in 1904 and his wife Harriet (Jerome) Alexander died in 1911, and their son Frank J. Alexander sold a large part of the farmland to the trustees to found Connecticut College.[11]

According to an October 12, 1935 article in the Hartford Daily Times, marking the College's 20th anniversary: "On September 27, 1915 the college opened its doors to students. The entering class was made up of 99 freshmen students, candidates for degrees, and 52 special students, a total registration of 151. A fine faculty of 23 members had been engaged and a library of 6,000 volumes had been gathered together. It was an auspicious start for this new undertaking."

The College became co-educational in 1969. President Charles E. Shain cited in his announcement speech that recent evidence showed that women were becoming uninterested in attending women's colleges.[12]


University rankings
Forbes[13] 81
Liberal arts colleges
U.S. News & World Report[14] 48
Washington Monthly[15] 100

Admission to the college is considered "more selective" by U.S. News & World Report.[6] The college received 5,182 applications for the Class of 2019 (the entering fall 2015 class) and 40.0% were accepted; of the 68% of the entering class who submitted SAT scores, the middle 50% range was 640-730 for Critical Reading and 630-720 for Math.[16]

In the 2016 college rankings of U.S. News & World Report, Connecticut College was ranked tied for 48th.[6] These figures represent a significant decline in the college's traditional ranking within the top 25 liberal arts colleges in the country in the 1990s and early 2000s.[17] Connecticut College ranked 100th out of 247 liberal arts colleges in Washington Monthly 's 2015 rankings, which are based on recruiting and graduating low-income students, producing cutting-edge scholarship and PhDs, and encouraging students to give something back to their country.[18]

Blaustein Humanities Center
New London Hall
Cummings Art Center


The College offers more than a thousand courses in 29 academic departments and 7 interdisciplinary programs, and students can choose from 41 traditional majors plus opportunities for self-designed courses of study. The 10 most common majors over the last five years have been English, Economics, Psychology, Government, History, Biological Sciences, International Relations, Anthropology, Human Development, and Art.

Connecticut College has a history of undergraduate research work and students are encouraged to make conference presentations and publish their work under the guidance of a professor.[19] Graduating seniors are regularly awarded prestigious fellowships and grants such as the U.S. Student Fulbright Program grant. Connecticut College has been recognized as a top producer of Fulbright awardees,[20] producing, in 2012, nine Fulbright Grant recipients.[21] The College had 179 full-time professors in Academic Year 2013-14; 92% hold a doctorate or equivalent. The student-faculty ratio is about 9 to 1.[22]


The main campus has three residential areas. The North Campus contains the newest residential halls: Morrison, Wright, Lambdin, Park, Johnson (formerly Marshall), and Hamilton. The South Campus contains residence halls along the west side of Tempel Green: Harkness, Jane Addams, Freeman, Knowlton, and Windham, across from several academic buildings. The Central Campus contains the oldest residence halls: Burdick, Smith, Larrabee, Plant, Branford, Blackstone, Katharine Blunt, and Lazarus, which is closest to the student center and the library. The oldest dorms on campus are Plant House and Blackstone House which were founded in 1914.[23][24]

Connecticut College's two principal libraries are the Charles E. Shain Library and the Greer Music Library which is located in the Cummings Arts Center. The Shain Library houses a collection of more than 500,000 books and periodicals, an extensive collection of electronic resources, and it is also home to The Linda Lear Center for Special Collections & Archives and the Charles Chu Asian Art Reading Room.[25] ]The Lear Center has more than 50 book, manuscript and art collections including research archives devoted to Rachel Carson, Eugene O'Neill, and Beatrix Potter.[26]

The Charles Chu Asian Art Reading Room serves as both a quiet reading area and as the permanent exhibition space for the Chu-Griffis Art Collection.[27]

Originally dedicated in 1976, the Shain library, named after former College President Charles Shain was renovated, expanded, and re-dedicated in 2015. The renovation of Shain Library was honored by the American Institute of Architects with a 2015 New England Honor Award in the category of Preservation.[28] In 2016, LibraryJournal named the library a New Landmark Libraries Winner.[29]

Features of the renovated library include:

Performance spaces on campus include Palmer Auditorium; Tansill Theater, housed in Hillyer Hall; Myers Dance Studio, housed in Crozier-Williams College Center; Harkness Chapel; and Evans Music Hall, Fortune Recital Hall, and Oliva Hall, housed in Cummings Art Center.[32] Palmer Auditorium was home to the American Dance Festival from 1947 to 1977, featuring choreographers such as Martha Graham, José Limon, and Merce Cunningham in what was called "the most important summertime event in modern dance."[33][34]

The Connecticut College Arboretum is a 750-acre (3 km²) arboretum and botanical garden. Students frequently go to the arboretum to walk, study, or otherwise enjoy nature.

Harkness Chapel is a fine example of noted architect James Gamble Rogers' colonial Georgian style, with twelve stained glass windows by G. Owen Bonawit. The building is used for denominational religious services, as well as for ceremonies, concerts and recitals, weddings, and other public functions.[35]

The Lyman Allyn Art Museum is located on campus, although it is not connected to the campus proper. The museum's web site describes it as follows: "Housed in a handsome Neo-Classical building designed by Charles A. Platt, the permanent collection includes over 10,000 paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, furniture and decorative arts, with an emphasis on American art from the 18th through 20th centuries."[36]

Charles E. Shain Library after 2015 renovation
Blackstone House, on the Old Quad
Harkness House
Plant and Branford Houses
Tourists in the Arboretum

Student life

Honor code

Students live under the college's 85-year-old student-adjudicated Honor Code and without a Greek system. The Honor Code, which distinguishes Connecticut College from most of its peers, underpins all academic and social interactions at the college and creates a palpable spirit of trust and cooperation between students and faculty. Other manifestations of the code include self-scheduled, unproctored final exams.[37][38]


In a typical year, the college enrolls about 1,900 men and women from 40-45 states, Washington D.C., and 70 countries. Approximately forty percent of students are men. The incoming class of 2014 was 71.9% White, 8.7% Hispanic, 3.5% Asian American, 3.3% African American, and 12.6% other.[39] The college is now particularly known for interdisciplinary studies, international programs and study abroad, funded internships, student-faculty research, service learning, and shared governance. Under the college's system of shared governance, faculty, staff, students, and administrators are represented on the major committees that make policy regarding the curriculum, the budget, and the campus and facilities.


Connecticut College is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the Annapolis Group, and the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC). Connecticut College is a member of the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success,[40] and the College provides financial aid packages that meet 100 percent of its students' demonstrated financial needs.[41]

Clubs and organizations

The College has seven a cappella groups: three women's groups (the ConnChords, The Shwiffs and Miss Connduct), one men's group (the Co Co Beaux), and three coed groups (Conn Artists, Vox Cameli, and Williams Street Mix).[42]

WCNI (90.9 FM), the college radio station, broadcasts a variety of music including polka, blues, and celtic music shows. A 2,000 watt transmitter installed in 2003 reaches much, but not all, of the lower New England region.[43] The College Voice, Connecticut College's only student newspaper, is an editorially independent print and online bi-weekly publication. Students handle all aspects of production: reporting, editing, ad sales, management, photography, layout, multimedia and design.[44] The Student Activities Council (SAC) runs events including club fairs, school dances, concerts, and off-campus excursions.[45] SAC is also responsible for Floralia, the annual spring concert, where recent artists have included Misterwives, Cash Cash,[46] RAC, and St. Lucia.[47]

Three centers provide support for traditionally marginalized students, but each are open to all students regardless of identity. Unity House is the college's multicultural center, which promotes, supports, educates, and implements multicultural awareness programs on campus.[48] It supports various affinity, activist, and performance student groups.[49] The Womxn's Center provides a space to critically engage in gender issues through programming and events.[50] The LGBTQIA Resource Center serves the needs of queer students and their allies by providing a supportive space, resource library, social events, and educational programming. It also hosts several student organizations.[51] In August 2013, Campus Pride named Connecticut College one of the top 25 LGBT-friendly colleges and universities.[52] These three centers answer to the position of Dean of Institutional Equity and Inclusion, a position which was created in 2016 to "fulfill the college’s commitment to full participation."[53]

The Office of Volunteers for Community Service (OVCS) helps students find volunteering opportunities in the community.[54] The Office of Career and Professional Development provides four-year program through which students explore career options, assess interests and skills, learn to consider lifetime goals when planning coursework and activities, look for a career-related junior-year internship, and get help with a job search as seniors. In the summer after junior year, all students are allotted a grant from the college to complete an internship of their choice.[55]


The College's teams participate as a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division III. The Camels are a member of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC). Men's sports include basketball, cross country, ice hockey, lacrosse, rowing, soccer, squash, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field and water polo; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, field hockey, ice hockey, lacrosse, rowing, sailing, soccer, squash, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field, volleyball and water polo.[56]

Notable alumni

Connecticut College graduates of note include The Atlantic senior editor Joshua Green, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, New York Times best-selling authors Sloane Crosley and David Grann, Academy Award-winning actress Estelle Parsons, fashion designer Peter Som, National Baseball Hall of Fame director Jeff Idelson, and philanthropist Nan Kempner.


  • 1943-1945: Dorothy Schaffter
  • 1945-1946: Katharine Blunt
  • 1947-1962: Rosemary Park

  • 1962-1974: Charles E. Shain
  • 1974-1988: Oakes Ames
  • 1988-2001: Claire L. Gaudiani

  • 2001-2006: Norman Fainstein
  • 2006-2013: Leo I. Higdon, Jr.
  • 2014–present: Katherine Bergeron


  1. As of June 30, 2015. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2014 to FY 2015" (PDF). National Association of College and University Business Officers and Commonfund Institute. 2016.
  3. "Residential Life" on the Connecticut College website
  4. "Majors and Minors" on the Connecticut College website
  5. "America's Top Colleges: Connecticut College". Forbes. July 30, 2014.
  6. 1 2 3 "Liberal Arts Rankings: Best Colleges". U.S. News & World Report. 2014.
  7. "History of Wesleyan University". Retrieved 2011-06-16.
  8. "Connecticut College: Centennial video generates excitement". 2011-01-19. Retrieved 2011-06-16.
  9. "Connecticut College: Centennial News: A History of Connecticut College: New London Raises $100,000". Retrieved 2011-06-16.
  10. "Connecticut College: Centennial News: The founding of Connecticut College". 2011-01-05. Retrieved 2011-06-16.
  11. "A Modern History of New London County, Connecticut;, Volume 3, Page 163 | Document Viewer". 2013-05-03. Retrieved 2014-08-17.
  12. "Connecticut College Goes Fully Co-Ed"
  13. "America's Top Colleges". Forbes. July 5, 2016.
  14. "Best Colleges 2017: National Liberal Arts Colleges Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. September 12, 2016.
  15. "2016 Rankings - National Universities - Liberal Arts". Washington Monthly. Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  16. "Admission Statistics". Connecticut College.
  17. "Liberal Arts Rankings: Best Colleges". U.S. News & World Report. 1999.
  18. "2015 Liberal Arts College Rankings". Washington Monthly.
  19. Connecticut College. "Connecticut College Internships and Student Research". Retrieved November 7, 2012.
  20. Connecticut College. "Connecticut College Fulbright Awards". Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  22. "About us" on the Connecticut College website
  23. "Blackstone House" on the Connecticut College website
  24. "Plant House" on the Connecticut College website
  25. "Libraries, Collections & Services". Connecticut College. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  26. "Linda Lear Center for Special Collections and Archives". Connecticut College. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  27. "Charles Chu Asian Art Reading Room". Connecticut College. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  28. "AIA New England 2015 Design Awards". AIAConnecticut. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  29. "Charles E. Shain Library New Landmark Libraries 2016 Winner". LibraryJournal. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  30. "The ultimate display for video walls". Christie. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  31. 1 2 3 4 "Charles E. Shain Library". Connecticut College. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  32. "Performance Spaces" on the Connecticut College website
  33. "American Dance Festival History"
  34. ""Eighth Sister No More": The Origins and Evolution of Connecticut College by Paul P. Marthers p. 163
  35. "Reserving Harkness Chapel". Connecticut College. Retrieved July 19, 2014.
  36. "Lyman Allyn Art Museum, New London, Connecticut". Lyman Allyn Art Museum. Retrieved July 19, 2014.
  37. "Self-Scheduled Exams" on the Connecticut College website
  38. "Honor Code" on the Connecticut College website
  39. "Diversity Demographics". Connecticut College. Connecticut College. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  40. "Meet the Coalition". Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  41. "Cost and Financial Aid". Connecticut College. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  42. "Clubs & Organizations" on the Connecticut College website
  43. "WCNI - FM 90.9 - New London, CT" on Streema
  44. "About" on The College Voice website
  45. "Clubs and Organizations | Governance on the Connecticut College website
  46. "Rocking the Dot" from The College Voice
  47. Floralia: A Recent History Memories of the Past and Upcoming Excitement from The College Voice
  48. "Unity House" on the Connecticut College website
  49. "Unity-Affiliated Student Clubs" on the Connecticut College website
  50. "The Women's Center" on the Connecticut College website
  51. "LGBTQ Resource Center" on the Connecticut College website
  52. Campus Pride Releases 2013 ‘Top 25 LGBT-Friendly Universities And Colleges’ Listing Unity House and the LGBTQIA Center are both staffed by full-time staff members.
  53. "John McKnight Jr. named dean of institutional equity and inclusion". Connecticut College. Connecticut College. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  54. "Community Learning and Engagement" on the Connecticut College website
  55. "Four Year Career Program" on the Connecticut College website
  56. "Connecticut College Camels". Connecticut College. Retrieved July 20, 2014.
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