Learning connects the curious.
That’s our philosophy. We involve you in the life of the mind. And we know that when curious people gather to learn, friendships blossom.
We invite you to expand your intellectual horizons and to bring your zeal for learning to our community – so it can become yours, too.We pledge to bring you the best that our University offers. We believe both the University and the surrounding community become richer in this exchange.
Curiosity + Community: Presidents’ College is lifelong learning at its best!
Today’s Presidents’ College has embraced growth and change, incorporating new areas of study, upgraded technology, and partnerships with organizations both on and off campus.
On campus, we have fostered programs and lectures with multiple organizations, including Alumni Engagement; the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement; the Greenberg Center; the Barney School and The Hartt School. In Greater Hartford, our partnerships with the CT Mirror and several arts organizations have raised the program’s profile and expanded its reach. The Presidents’ College has also enhanced its ties to local retirement communities Duncaster, The McAuley, and McLean, holding four programs per semester at each location at no charge to residents.
Current Director Michele Troy is a Professor of English and former coordinator of the Honors Experience at Hillyer College at the University. She sparked creative adaption during COVID times, leading the Presidents’ College through the new territory of Zoom and hybrid classes to continue engaging students. With that said, the lifeblood of the program is what happens in the classroom, with engaged instructors, lively discussions, and warm friendships. For this reason, we are happy to have largely returned to in-person learning.
The Presidents’ College began in 1990 as a pioneering initiative founded by then-University President Humphrey Tonkin. The first courses were on Shakespearean plays, taught by Tonkin himself, and open to the public. Over four years the group discussed every single Shakespeare play, and the popularity of these meetings of the mind created an appetite for a broader portfolio of courses.
Tonkin was ahead of his time, seeing the benefit of engaging people from surrounding communities in the intellectual life of the campus, and building connections between them and the University. Increasing numbers of healthy, active adults were also living longer after retirement, creating a growing cadre of lifelong learners eager to enjoy the vibrancy of a university environment. Tonkin received national recognition when the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) granted the Presidents’ College its annual award for outstanding continuing education.
By 2006 the Presidents’ College, under Director Patricia Cremins, came under the welcoming roof of the Harrison Libraries. Director of Libraries Randi Ashton-Pritting aided and supported the program. From its inception, volunteers were crucial contributors, ensuring the program’s survival. A Steering Committee of rotating Volunteers supported the Directors and provided feedback. Following Patricia Cremins, Presidents’ College Directors have included President Emeritus Humphrey Tonkin, former Arts & Sciences Dean Joseph Voelker, and Steve Metcalf, former Hartford Courant music critic and Curator of the Garmany Chamber Music Series. Randi Ashton-Pritting, Director of Libraries, also acted as Interim Director, shepherding the program safely through the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
University of Hartford Presidents Humphrey Tonkin, Walter Harrison, and Gregory Woodward have all valued how the Presidents’ College extends the University’s educational mission to the benefit of both the University and the local community.
Presidents' College reaches beyond campus borders and into the community spotlight. We've been featured in the media connecting the curious.
Presidents' College Director, Michele Troy, was interviewed on WFSB in advance of the second Silent Book Club event. Learn more about this "Introvert's Happy Hour"! There's sure to be another one in the future!
The Presidents' College hosted a program with author Rebecca Frankel where she spoke about her book “Into the Forest: A Holocaust Story of Survival, Triumph, and Love”.
Listen in as Presidents' College Director, Michele Troy, discusses the College's evolution and the ongoing promise of lifelong learning with Associate Professor Abe Hefter (School of Communication) on his 91.3 FM radio podcast.
Lucy Anne Hurston, niece of noted author Zora Neale Hurston, conducted a series for Presidents’ College. She utilized her aunt’s work to bridge past racial inequality movements with issues in American society today.
The University of Hartford’s Presidents’ College and the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement collaborated with Leadership Greater Hartford (LGH) and the Connecticut Mirror to examine where color lines continue to segregate Connecticut. H Magazine featured the event.
Regional publications help spread the word about the President's College focus on lifelong learning and their pursuit of connecting the curious. We have been featured in local publications such as Bloomfield Messenger, Windsor Journal, and Windsor Locks Journal.