UHart Then and Now: Regents Chair Don Allan '86 Shares His Vision

Don Allan

Some things never change: Strong connections with professors, gathering with friends in the student union, the close-knit campus community. 

But a lot of things are different today, and that’s also something to celebrate, says Donald Allan Jr. ’86, president and CEO of Stanley Black & Decker. As an alumnus and the new chair of the University of Hartford’s Board of Regents, he has a special appreciation for UHart then and now.

The “now” is his primary focus, as he works to make his cherished alma mater an even stronger institution that continues empowering new generations of leaders, while embracing long-held traditions that have always made it unique.


“While you have endless opportunities and options available to you, there is still a small-school, intimate type of environment here at UHart. I do believe that you learn more and get a more robust experience because of that— you are interacting with professors and others who have a sense of what the ‘real world’ is like.

Donald Allan Jr. '86, President and CEO, Stanley Black & Decker

“Add that to career-ready programs the University has been implementing, and today we are seeing students who are more confident and prepared for successful careers than they have ever been," he says.

As Allan considered options for college, he took notice of UHart’s small class sizes and engaging professors, as well as the strong reputation of the Barney School of Business. He decided to pursue his degree in business administration and accounting at Barney, and appreciates that a close student-to-faculty ratio has remained over the decades.

Allan commuted to campus, but spent time with friends in the Village Apartments—brand new at the time—and on intramural teams and in the student union.

“There was never a great intramural victory,” he said with a laugh. “But I have a lot of good memories of us all spending time together. For me, because I was a commuting student, it was a great opportunity for me to engage with some of my fellow students beyond the classroom.”

Professors took great care in showing Allan many different career paths for his degree, but career-ready programs on campus have made leaps and bounds since his undergraduate studies. At that time, there weren’t many internships in the area, and students learned what it truly meant to work for a company once they began working after graduation.

Today, thanks to a variety of internship programs, networking events, career-preparation workshops, career fairs, guest speakers, and more all at UHart, students enter the workforce with an understanding of company culture and expectations, business etiquette, soft skills, and real-world experience. That’s all in addition to knowledge gained in the classroom, Allan says.

The Stanley Black & Decker Scholars program, which Allan helped launch for UHart students, is just one example of career-focused initiatives at UHart.

“I would like to engage with more companies to help create these types of programs with the University. We can work with companies outside of our region, too. I also think for our alumni, it’s a great way to give back to the University in a really positive and constructive manner,” Allan says. “Structuring programs like this with scholarships is beneficial to both the company and the student body. I met with a few of the Stanley Scholars, and they are impressive.”

As he reflects on how far UHart has come, Allan has thought about his own journey. Being named board chair was “a wow moment,” he says. In the past, he’d served on the Board of Visitors for Barney and as a regent. Now he’s working to unite student, faculty, and staff in a shared vision for the future.

“The amazing foundation and DNA of this University is very strong,” Allan says. "We want to further define our path for success going forward: a great student experience, enthusiastic and excited faculty, and an administration that is doing everything in its power to support everyone in their success.”