About Us

Our Mission

Contact the Presidents' College

Michele Troy, Director

Louise Melanson, Business Manager

Monica Mills, Assistant to the Business Manager

The mission of the Presidents’ College is to create an extended community dedicated to the importance of the life of the mind. By offering a wide range of activities, the Presidents’ College allows its participants to explore significant topics at a high intellectual level under the guidance of university-level faculty and distinguished guest instructors. The Presidents’ College extends the University of Hartford’s educational mission by engaging the adult population of the surrounding communities in the intellectual life of the campus, and by building significant connections between them and the University.

Media Spotlight

The Hartford Courant Feature:

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”.

H Magazine Feature:

With America writing the next chapter in its struggle with racism and racial justice, 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.

Podcast Feature:

Michele Troy

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.

Our History

The Presidents’ College at the University of Hartford is a pioneering lifelong learning program founded in 1990, when the University reached out to the community beyond its campus. From its early days, our program has offered non-credit courses for curious adults, taught by university faculty and distinguished guest lecturers. Courses, lectures and events are open to all, with tuition charged on a per-event basis. While the intellectual component is paramount, when curious people gather to learn more, friendships inevitably blossom.

The Presidents’ College was born of a series of Shakespeare lectures by then-President Humphrey Tonkin. These were open to the public, and the public came… again and again. Over four years President Tonkin lectured on every Shakespeare play, and the popularity of these talks generated a demand for other courses and events. Tonkin added music and other literature courses first, and choices grew from there. Tonkin saw the benefit to regularly opening the University campus to other groups, and also recognized that the cadre of older learners was growing rapidly.  

The Shakespeare lectures soon brought national recognition: the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) singled out the Presidents’ College, honoring the program with 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. After Patricia Cremins, Presidents’ College Directors have included President Emeritus Humphrey Tonkin, former Arts & Sciences Dean Joseph Voelker, and former Hartford Courant music critic and Curator of the Garmany Chamber Music Series Steve Metcalf.

Over time course offerings expanded in number and scope, to comprise play and opera outings, STEM classes, health, and current events topics. A typical semester syllabus includes 15 three- and four-session courses; eight or more lectures; and one or two extras, such as the semester Kickoff gathering in September. The Presidents’ College forged a connection to local retirement communities Duncaster and McAuley to include their residents in the lecture audiences. Four Presidents’ College programs per semester are held at each location, presented at no charge to residents.  

University of Hartford Presidents Humphrey Tonkin, Walter Harrison, and Gregory Woodward know the benefits the Presidents’ College brings to both the University and the local community. Alumni Engagement; Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; the Barney School have partnered with the Presidents’ College to foster programs and lectures that include their constituencies. Beyond the University’s campus, partnerships with the CT Mirror and several arts organizations have raised the program’s profile and expanded its reach.  

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 into the new territory of Zoom and hybrid classes. That said, in-person learning has always been the Presidents’ College strength and its mission.

Frequently Asked Questions

Classes typically meet in several venues on campus, including:

  • the Harrison Libraries’ KF Room;
  • the Greenberg Center, Fuller Building, or
  • Wilde Auditorium.

Click here to view Map & Directions. We also hold regular lectures at the Duncaster or McAuley retirement communities. Your registration confirmation and the Programs & Events listing will give your class location.

If the instructor suggests advance reading, the Course Coordinator will supply you with materials or a reading list.

The University reserves the right to cancel any class or make other necessary changes to the schedule. If the Presidents’ College changes or cancels a class, we are happy to offer you a refund or credit if you email us at Otherwise, all tuition and fees are non-refundable.

If the University closes for severe weather or any other reason, Presidents' College courses and events are canceled. Check for information and updates at or call 860.768.4100. The Course Coordinator will contact you about make-up sessions. If the University has a delayed opening, any Presidents’ College class or event scheduled after the opening will take place.

The Course Coordinator emails a parking permit to each course registrant. It is valid for certain designated lots. Place it on your dashboard when you arrive for class. If you park without displaying the permit, you will be ticketed by the Campus Police.

If you are a Fellow (that is, have donated $100 or more to the Presidents’ College during the current year), follow the link on the course registration page allowing you to register your car with Campus Parking. Fellows are entitled to park in any (unreserved, non-Handicap) space at any time. You do not need the parking permit unless you come to campus in a different (unregistered) vehicle.

If you have a Handicap hangtag, you may park in any unreserved space at any time. You never need the parking permit.