Connecticut College president Katherine Bergeron is stepping down in the wake of student protests and widespread calls for her resignation over missteps on diversity, equity and inclusion.
Bergeron made the announcement Friday morning, writing in a statement that she would formally step down "at the end of the current semester.” Students, faculty and staff have called for Bergeron’s ouster for weeks; students occupied the administrative building last month after Rodmon King, the dean of institutional equity and inclusion, resigned after objecting to the college’s decision to hold a fundraiser at Florida’s Everglades Club, which has long been accused of discriminating against Black and Jewish people.
In his resignation letter, King blasted the president for bullying and creating a “toxic administrative culture of fear and intimidation.”
Bergeron did not address the specifics of the controversy in her resignation announcement.
“Certainly, the road has not always been easy. It never is, when the work is so important and the goals so ambitious. The past several weeks have proven particularly challenging, and as president, I fully accept my share of responsibility for the circumstances that have led us to this moment,” she wrote in an emailed statement to the campus community Friday morning. “For the past nine and a half years, I have devoted myself to advancing educational excellence and equity at this College. I care deeply—and I always have—for the success of our faculty, the well-being of our staff, and above all, the intellectual, social, and professional development of our students. My decision to leave at this moment is for the good of all these things.”
Bergeron continued, “For my part, I have thought hard about the events of the past weeks, and I know I will continue to learn from them. 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.”
The Connecticut College Board of Trustees also issued a statement Friday, praising Bergeron’s work over nearly a decade at the institution and pointing to her track record in curriculum development, strategic planning, fundraising and establishing the Division of Institutional Equity and Inclusion, whose dean ultimately played a role in ending her presidency.
“Over the last several weeks our focus has been drawn to areas in which the College can better execute its mission, including the area of equity, inclusion, and full participation. Constructive dialogue among students, staff, faculty administrators, and trustees has already begun to clarify an approach to the next phase of work we need to do to improve the Conn College experience for everyone,” board chair Debo P. Adegbile wrote in a statement sent to the campus community Friday. “The Board remains committed to providing additional resources to advance campus DIEI work, and to assess ways to support the community more broadly as plans come into sharper focus. Our College is at its finest, after all, when students, staff, faculty, administrators, and trustees work together to deliver an exceptional educational experience for all.”