The University of Hartford recently celebrated the fortieth anniversary of its founding -- not long for a university, even in a young country. The term founding is perhaps a little misleading, because the three institutions that joined forces in 1957 to create the University have a past going back to the nineteenth century, and today's University of Hartford is a part of a continuous history that dates to 1877.
What has been achieved here at the University over the past forty years is little short of a miracle, and so it is appropriate that some of the old timers around here refer to it as the Miracle on Bloomfield Avenue. The purpose of this history is to tell you how an optimistic city and its public-spirited citizens got together to plan and create a comprehensive institution of higher education, and how that initial promise is being fulfilled today as the University of Hartford works to make itself known across the world for the excellence of its programs, the energy of its city, and its contributions to the betterment of the lives of all.
Originally this little history was intended for entering students, to give an account of how this very young, ever-changing, and vibrant educational institution fits into the old New England towns around it. But since no such account has been written for the University as a whole since its chartering, and there has been so much interest in this story among faculty, alumni, friends, and long-time residents of the area, we have decided to make this story available to all. We are grateful to Gordon Clark Ramsey, Secretary of the Faculty Senate, for compiling the history, based in part on an unpublished manuscript by the late Professor Eugene Sweeney of the History Department, and to the many other colleagues and friends, most particularly University Archivist Ethel Bacon, who have added their thoughts, observations, and information. At the end of 1996, during a brief scholarly leave, I took some time to edit and expand the manuscript, and this is the version that is now before you.
The history has many shortcomings, of which those of us who worked on it are painfully aware. It gives insufficient attention to several areas of our complex institution, and it may well contain errors as well as omissions. But at least it is a start, and we are eager to receive critiques, corrections, and suggestions for future editions and future historians. An institution that neglects its history neglects its soul: we do not do enough to preserve our past and to keep that past alive by narrating it to others. Perhaps this short text will serve as a benign corrective.
Humphrey Tonkin, President Emeritus
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