Ann Goodwin, current vice president of College Advancement, will leave Connecticut College on April 28, one month after the announcement of her departure. The turnaround will be more sudden than that of most high-level administrative changes, and President Katherine Bergeron’s March 30 email reveals only the fact that Goodwin will be leaving and when; she offers no word regarding how or why.
When members of the Conn faculty or administration choose to leave, it is typical that they finish the semester before transitioning away from the College. Previous instances of this include former director of the LGBTQIA Center Antonio Jefferson and former director of Campus Safety Stewart Smith, both of whom left at the end of Fall 2016; former dean of the College and senior diversity officer Carolyn Denard, who left at the end of Fall 2014; and director of Sexual Violence Prevention and Advocacy Darcie Folsom, who will leave at the end of this academic year. The retirement of former vice president of Administration Ulysses B. Hammond did not coincide with the end of a semester, as his last day was Oct. 30, 2015, but his departure was announced nearly four months prior, on Aug. 3, 2015.
Hoping to understand why her departure was to come so soon, I reached out to Goodwin via email. Though I suggested only a 20 minute meeting, Goodwin responded: “Unfortunately, I don’t think I can fit that into my schedule before I leave.” As a follow-up, I asked Goodwin if she would consider taking a brief phone call, but even that, Goodwin said, would be impossible to arrange.
As vice president for College Advancement, Goodwin holds the highest rank in the Office of College Advancement in Becker House, meaning that she has no immediate superiors in her realm of the College. According to her LinkedIn profile, Goodwin lasted 2 years and 10 months at the College, a tenure that was preceded by a seemingly identical position at Wesleyan University: associate vice president for Development, which she held for 8 years and 4 months. To find out more about Goodwin’s impending departure, I reached out to Bonnie Wells, who works in the President’s Office as secretary of the College. Wells told me: “You are asking about a personnel matter and I cannot offer any additional insight beyond what is in the President’s messages.”
Of course, people vacate their employment positions all the time, often for personal and sensitive reasons. Had I seen any indication of that being the case here, I would have stopped digging and not written this article. It’s the complete absence of any reason– for Goodwin’s departure itself or the accelerated timeline– that compelled me to keep asking. The President’s messages and my correspondence with staff on campus have left me without new insight.
When she leaves in April, Goodwin will be succeeded by Martha Merrill, current director of Financial Initiatives. Merrill will serve as interim vice president of College Advancement for a currently indefinite term. I reached out to Merrill for comment, wondering why she accepted the position, whether she might consider pursuing it permanently and if she has any thoughts on Goodwin, but given that she will not begin until May, Merrill deemed it “premature” to discuss any information regarding her new role.
To the students wondering about Goodwin’s departure, what we’re allowed to know is simple: nothing. Whether or not it’s any of our business is a subjective matter.