In recent years, there has been a concerted push to mold Hartford into a welcoming, college city. With Trinity College, the University of Connecticut West Hartford Campus and the University of Hartford, the area already maintains the academic institutions needed to sustain college-city atmosphere.
A Hartford Courant opinion piece by Dr. Jeffrey Patridge of Capital Community College spoke of ongoing efforts in the capital city, arguing that greater levels of education and community in Hartford will create “students…[who] seek employment in Hartford, reside in Hartford, spend money in Hartford and one day play touch football and Frisbee with their own kids in a Hartford park.” The UConn administration should latch onto this plan and create a stronger presence in Hartford.
UConn has already begun the transition toward a greater presence in downtown Hartford with the pending move to the former Hartford Times building. In moving from West Hartford to downtown Hartford, the UConn administration has laid the groundwork for an enhanced presence in the capital.
Though this move does confirm the new “commitment to the vitality of the region and state” spoken of on the UConn Hartford site, the university can, and should, do more. In order to enhance the neighborhood, the new satellite facility must provide for the community at large.
According to the Hartford Courant, the administration plans on working with the Hartford Public Library to “share some space and resources.” Giving Hartford access to the vast resources of the state university will better UConn and the community. Departments such as urban studies, history and public policy could benefit greatly from a presence in downtown Hartford. Together with an increased presence from Trinity College, the new UConn Hartford campus will hopefully create short-term and long-term jobs and positions, and promote new vitality for the downtown area.
The new satellite campus will also alleviate some of the immense pressure on the main Storrs campus. While attending the main campus provides benefits, the residential-college life also comes with increased costs and ever-increasing competitiveness. If the university follows through with all plans laid out in their $115 million renovation of the Hartford Times building, then they will have successfully created a state of the art facility equal in prominence to the facilities in Storrs.
Students, looking to either avoid the costs of room and board, or seeking a commuter education, will find the new campus to be an attractive option. With shrinking residential and classroom space, the university must invest in branch campuses to provide a state of the art, quality education to all students.
Moving the West Hartford campus to Hartford will not only revitalize the area, but will provide UConn students with another viable alternative to the main Storrs campus.