Success Stories

Reflection and Community: HCW Celebrates 85 Years

July 23, 2019

Hartford College for Women (HCW) was an early, outstanding leader in women’s education. Its past bridges into the future by connecting women across decades. On June 8, the sisterhood across time reunited to celebrate the Mount Holyoke in Hartford “noble experiment” which grew into a dynamic community focused on academic achievement and the professional and personal success of women.

To celebrate 85 of educating women in Hartford, more than 100 HCW alumnae, faculty, staff, and friends joined The Women’s Advancement Initiative, its LEAD students, and the Office of Alumni Engagement to enjoy a beautiful sun-filled day of reflection and community.

The Class of 1969 began the day with a brunch to celebrate their 50th reunion. As each attendee introduced themselves and described how HCW impacted their personal and professional paths, you could feel their sense of gratitude that HCW provided them with such a strong foundation for success and a meaningful life.

Next, the all-class reunion started with a trip down memory lane. A fine display of HCW archives filled the room. Laura Johnson’s tea set, old faculty photos, spring festival books, student directories, Highlander yearbooks, and Hartford Junior College for Girls building signage, were among the treasures on display. 

After spending some time with the archives and catching up with old classmates, attendees were invited to hear a special presentation on “Why Women’s Leadership Matters, Now More Than Ever.” The presentation celebrated the HCW history of women’s leadership, highlighting Laura Johnson, and other HCW leaders.

The lecture was presented by Valerie Fleming Lewis A’62 (HCW), Assistant Director and then Director of Admissions at HCW from 1970 to 1984, Commissioner of Higher Education for the State of Connecticut from 2000 to 2008, and past chair and former member of the Board of Directors of The Women’s Advancement Initiative.
A special feature on the University of Hartford’s campus is the HCW Garden, located on the center lawn. Attendees toured the HCW Garden which includes a HCW tribute plaque, a Maiden Flight sculpture that was originally installed in honor of HCW’s 40th anniversary, benches, a Japanese maple tree and “Just Say Yes” plaque in honor of Mims Butterworth, and a beautiful landscape of flowers to highlight the legacy of HCW and be a gathering place for today’s students.

The day culminated with a reception at Butterworth Hall. One classroom at Butterworth Hall was lovingly put together by HCW alumna Martha Ferris O’Neal A’66 (HCW). It was outlined with tables dedicated to each decade. Each table included yearbooks, memorabilia, and a poster display of photos. As attendees walked around Butterworth Hall, you couldn’t help but notice their smiles as they reminisced about fond memories, shared stories, and connected with today’s LEAD students at the University of Hartford who proudly continue and celebrate the legacy of Hartford College for Women.