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Profiles in College

Distinct missions of area universities a function of their history and evolution


Business New Haven
By: Priscilla Searles

Yale University

One of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the nation, Yale was founded in 1701 by a group of Congregational ministers as the Collegiate School in the home of Abraham Pierson, its first rector, in Killingworth. The Puritan school was to serve as a place where youths could be taught arts and sciences.

The first graduating class comprised precisely one student. The original curriculum, designed to prepare young men for a life of public service, consisted of logic, rhetoric, grammar (Greek, Latin and Hebrew), arithmetic, astronomy and geometry - six of the seven liberal arts are inherited from ancient European tradition.

In its long quest for a permanent home, the school moved several times. New Haven was sending its young men off to Harvard, established in 1636, and wanted a school of its own. So a group of New Haveners began a campaign to raise the necessary funds, pledging 2000 English pounds. In 1716 the school moved to New Haven and, with a generous gift by Elihu Yale, the first college building was completed.

In 1718, in honor of the school's benefactor, the name of the institution was changed to Yale College. But to this day few people know who Elihu Yale was or what his donation to the school actually consisted of: Nine bales of goods, 417 books and a portrait and arms of King George I were enough in the early 18th century to garner what today would be called "naming rights" to a world-renowned university.

Oddly, however, Yale (the man) himself rarely lived in America, never attended college and was not a trustee of the original Collegiate School.

Yale College embarked on a steady expansion, establishing a Medical Institution in 1810, a Divinity School in 1822, a Law School in 1843, followed later by the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, School of Fine Arts and School of Music. In 1887, reflecting the increasing importance of post-baccalaureate education among the institution's offerings, Yale College became Yale University.

It continued to add to its academic offerings with the addition of the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, School of Nursing, School of Drama, School of Architecture and School of Management.

Today Yale University comprises three major academic components: Yale College (the undergraduate program), the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, and ten professional schools. In addition, Yale encompasses a wide array of research organizations, libraries and museums, as well as administrative and support offices. Approximately 11,250 students attend Yale.

Southern Connecticut State University

Founded as the New Haven Normal School, Southern Connecticut State University traces its roots to September 11, 1893 when three teachers and 84 students met at the Skinner School in New Haven to create a two-year teacher training school.

The Skinner School served as home for the normal school until 1896, when it moved into a new building at 2 Howe Street. There it remained and grew until 1953, when it relocated to its present Crescent Street location.

In 1937 the school changed its name to New Haven State Teacher's College, becoming a four-year institution with the power to grant bachelor's degrees.

In 1947 Southern collaborated with Yale University's department of education to offer a graduate program leading to a master of science degree. In 1954, with Southern changing to meet the needs of its students and society, the state's Board of Education authorized the institution to assume unilateral responsibility for this graduate program.

In 1959, six years after the institution moved to the Crescent Street campus, state legislation expanded Southern's offerings to include liberal arts programs leading to bachelor's degrees in the arts and sciences. This same legislation reorganized the school and renamed it Southern Connecticut State College.

Over the next 24 years Southern grew, modernized and diversified, expanding its undergraduate and graduate programs and opening up entirely new fields of study and research. In March 1983, reflecting the increasing comprehensiveness of its academic offerings, the school was renamed Southern Connecticut State University. The same month it became part of the Connecticut State University system.

University of New Haven

The University of New Haven was founded in 1920 as the New Haven YMCA Junior College, a division of Northeastern University. With classes being held in the YMCA until 1924, the school's initial purpose was to educate returning World War I veterans in business and engineering. Most were working people, first-generation students.

Becoming New Haven College in 1926 by an act of the General Assembly, for nearly 40 years the college held classes in space rented from Yale University. In September 1958, the college completed construction of a classroom building on Cold Spring Street in New Haven. That same year the college received authorization from the legislature to confer bachelor of science degrees in the fields of business, accounting, management and industrial engineering.

Quickly outgrowing its new facility, in 1960 the school purchased three buildings and 25 acres of land in West Haven, formerly belonging to the New Haven County Orphanage. New Haven College received full accreditation for its baccalaureate programs from the New England Association of Schools & Colleges in 1966. In 1969, the college took a major step forward with the addition of a graduate school. In 1970, New Haven College became the University of New Haven.

Today UNH offers more than 70 undergraduate and 30 graduate degree programs in six schools. The University of New Haven has 4,500 students in undergraduate and graduate programs, representing 60 countries and 27 states. More than 70 undergraduate and 25 graduate academic programs are offered.

During the 2002-03 academic year UNH became the first university in the nation to offer a graduate degree in national security studies. The school received an earmarked federal budget allocation (passed through the National Institute for Justice as a grant) to start the first National Crime Scene Investigation Center.

Albertus Magnus College

Albertus Magnus College traces its beginnings to 1924, when the Dominican Congregation of St. Mary of the Springs purchased an estate at 700 Prospect Street in New Haven with the intent of founding a women's college. They renamed the mansion on the property Rosary Hall. The college's charter was signed on July 13, 1925 and classes began on September 24 of that year.

The first Catholic residential liberal arts college for women in New England, the school's enrollment the first year was 44 students, with 12 women receiving degrees at the inaugural commencement in 1928.

Today Albertus, which became a co-ed institution in 1985, has a total enrollment of 2,400 men and women in undergraduate and graduate courses. In addition to the main campus, classes are held at 13 branch locations around the state.

The college has established a niche in the field of education for the adult learner with two programs: the Accelerated Degree Program in the Continuing Education Division and the New Dimensions Program.

In 1991 the school offered its first graduate degree through the master of arts in liberal studies program. It has since added a master of science in management, master of arts in business administration and a master of arts in art therapy (the only curriculum of its kind in the state).

University of Bridgeport

The University of Bridgeport was founded in 1927 as the Junior College of Connecticut - the first junior college chartered by any legislature in the Northeastern states.
The school became the University of Bridgeport in 1947, when Gov. James L. McConaughy chartered the institution as a four-year university with authority to grant baccalaureate degrees.

By that time, the former Barnum estate at Seaside Park had been purchased and the institution's growth in terms of students, faculty, academic offerings and buildings was rapid. The College of Arts & Sciences and the College of Business were added shortly, with the colleges of nursing, education and engineering soon to follow. The Junior College expanded its offerings through a merger with Weylister Secretarial Junior College of Milford and the addition of the Fones School of Dental Hygiene (at its inception in 1949 the only school of its kind in Connecticut and just the second in New England).

By 1947, the University had moved from the original Fairfield Avenue location to the present Seaside Park campus, which has since grown from 22 to 86 acres. Enrollment, its ranks swollen with returning World War II veterans going to college on the G.I. Bill, was nearly 3,500 students, including a number of international students. They were taught by a faculty of 183 men and women. In 1951 the university conferred its first master's degree.

In 1953 the university expanded its programs when Arnold College, the oldest coeducational school of physical education in the U.S., merged with and was incorporated into the school's College of Education. In January 1979 the school inaugurated its first doctoral degree program, in educational leadership. And in 1991 the College of Chiropractic was established, representing the first affiliation of a chiropractic school with a university in the nation. Later a College of Naturopathic Medicine was established. This spring the school received authorization to grant a master's degree in acupuncture.

Increasingly diverse, with students from around the world, the University of Bridgeport is the fastest-growing college in the state.

The outlook wasn't always quite so rosy. In 1991 the school was nearly forced to close its doors due to crippling financial issues. At the 11th hour UB was bailed out with funds from the Professors World Peace Academy, a group affiliated with the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church. With student enrollment climbing to approximately 3,200 during the just-completed academic year, the school plans to enter its next fiscal year without relying on funds from the controversial church.

Quinnipiac University

Plans for the organization of Quinnipiac College - originally known as the Connecticut College of Commerce - as a non-profit coeducational institution were initiated and developed by Samuel W. Tator in the spring of 1929. His plan was to establish a small business college awarding associate's degrees. A group of Tator's former students served as incorporators of the institution. Judge Philip Troup, one of the incorporators, was elected president, serving in that capacity until his death on 1939.

In 1951 the school changed its name to Quinnipiac College, a name commemorating the early Indian settlers who made their home in and around the New Haven Harbor area. That same year Quinnipiac began offering bachelor's degrees and two decades later expanded its offerings to include master's degrees.

In the meantime, Quinnipiac assumed administrative control of Larson College, a private women's college, in 1952.

Quinnipiac relocated within New Haven as expansion in enrollment and curriculum demanded, and in 1966 moved to its current campus in Hamden. In 1992 Quinnipiac acquired the University of Bridgeport Law School from that financially troubled
institution (see above). In August 1995, the American Bar Association fully accredited Quinnipiac to award the juris doctor degree through its School of Law and the Quinnipiac School of Law Center was dedicated later that same year. Quinnipiac College changed its name to Quinnipiac University on July 1, 2000.

Today, Quinnipiac enrolls undergraduate and graduate students in more than 63 programs of study in business, education, health sciences, law, liberal arts and communications. More than 2000 students are enrolled in graduate programs, which include School of Business, Communications, Health Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and School of Law.

Fairfield University

Fairfield University was founded in 1942 by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), a religious order renowned internationally for its tradition of learning, scholarship and active service in the world.

The school's history began in 1941 when the Jesuits purchased a 76-acre estate along Fairfield's North Benson Road for $43,900. In 1942 First Selectman John Ferguson, eager to encourage the Jesuit's plan to establish a school in Fairfield, sold them the adjoining 105 acre Lasher estate, known as Hearthstone, for back taxes. John McEleney, S.J. was appointed Fairfield's first rector on March 17, 1942.

In spite of Fairfield struggles for accreditation and permission to expand, classes started in September 1942. It would be May 1945 before the school charter was approved by the Connecticut senate and Gov. Raymond E. Baldwin and was allowed to become an institution with four educational units: intermediate, secondary, college and graduate school. The charter allowed the granting of degrees and the right to acquire property and erect buildings.

But the accreditation problem persisted after the preparatory school was accredited. College accreditation finally came from the state's Board of Education as well as the Jesuit Educational Association in 1949. Fairfield's fully accredited Graduate School of Education was founded in 1950.

In 1947 the first FU class of 303 male students was admitted to the College of Arts & Science and the first commencement took place in 1951. However, it would be 1970 before women were admitted to all undergraduate programs.

In 1974 the Fairfield Jesuit Community incorporated itself separately from Fairfield University, keeping nine acres of the original property for their residence and handing over all assets to the university's primarily lay board of trustees, which would function independently of Jesuit superiors.

Fairfield University's growth has been continuous since the first days of the school. In 1963 the Graduate Department of Education became the Graduate School of Education, and in 2000 a master of science in mathematics was offered. Today Fairfield has 3,100 full-time undergraduates, 1,000 graduate students and 1,000 continuing education students.

Sacred Heart University

Sacred Heart University was founded in 1963 by the Most Rev. Walter W. Curtis, second bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport. The idea for a university had first come to Curtis shortly after his appointment as Bridgeport's bishop on September 23, 1961. He had surveyed his new diocese and was struck by the lack of Catholic higher-education facilities, especially for students of modest circumstances.

Curtis looked to the campus of Notre Dame High School on Park Avenue in Fairfield as a possible location for the new school. The high school's declining enrollment suggested that its facilities might be put to better use.

Despite the absence of a plan for any graduate programs, a bill was introduced in the state legislature on January 23, 1963 to incorporate Sacred Heart as a university. The necessary provisional accreditation from the state was hastily granted a week later.

Becoming the first Catholic university to be led and staffed by lay people, SHU's first class comprised 173 students - 125 men and 48 women. Tuition the first year was $750, with the bishop personally paying tuition for four students.

Today SHU encompasses four colleges: the College of Arts & Sciences, College of Business, College of Education & Health Professions and University College. The latter is committed to the adult learning, and it also provides continuing education programs.
The second-largest Catholic university in New England, there are currently is home to more than 6,000 students, half of whom are full-time undergraduates.

Offering 58 degree programs, Sacred Heart University was one of the first in the country to launch a Student Mobile Computing Program, requiring each full-time undergraduate to have access to a wireless laptop computer. In 2003 a record 783 undergraduates and 787 graduate students received degrees.

In addition to its main campus on Park Avenue in Fairfield, SHU operates branch campuses in Derby, Shelton, Lisbon, and Stamford. The university also operates the only American-style MBA program in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

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