President Woodward plans $90 million renovation


Asia Arce, Editor in Chief

This past fall, the University of Hartford saw an influx in the amount of student applicants that applied to be a part of the colleges of ENHP and CETA. To be exact, 3,051 students applied to ENHP, while 1,573 students applied to CETA. In the end, the university was only allowed to accept around 300 students, both transfers and freshmen, to each college. The number of applicants only fueled President Gregory Woodward’s desire to move the university in the direction of becoming a more recognized institution. One that allows the students to thrive, succeed, and do all they can during their time here.

Students may have already noticed the fruition of Woodward’s “vision” with the renovated additions to the Barney School and the Student Success Center in Gengras Student Union. Along with that, Woodward also plans to spend around $58 million for an academic building, as well as $30 million on a recreation/wellness center for all students to use. The new wellness center will be one of the many ways in which the Sports Center will be renovated. “We are going to redo the outside, we’re going to add intramural courts, yoga studios, work-out spaces, and offer healthy food options,” says Woodward. With the addition of this wellness center, Woodward also hopes that this can be an area for students who are not athletes to have a space on the residential side of campus to convene with each other.

Another $10 million will be allocated to the residential side of campus in order for students to have better laundry rooms and bathrooms, more communal learning spaces, and the installation of security cameras. In an attempt to “remove detractors and make more attractions”, a phrase coined by Jason Ferrell, the Executive Director of Facilities, housing complexes will start to look brighter and become more modern. Phase one of this will focus solely on complexes A-D. For example, more television screens will be placed around as well as in specific areas to allow for students to take part in e-gaming. Aaron Issacs, Dean of Students, also stresses the need for communal spaces that will give students the ability to hang out as well as “enable student leaders” to run programs. Phase 2 of the renovations on the housing complexes will deal with complexes E-F, Park River, Regents, and the Village in an attempt to make them more modern and functional. Phase 3 will be dedicated to figuring out how to make the river more accessible to both students, as well as teachers who would like to use it for classroom purposes.

Part of that same $10 million will also go towards renovating classrooms and parking lots. However, none of that money will be going towards the construction of buildings where the Westbrook Village is currently being renovated near Annie Fisher, in Hartford, Connecticut. “That is a project the city is doing and we were talking to the developers. They are going to be building grocery stores, high end restaurants, and they said ‘UHart, we want you in here, we’ll name the streets after you, and we’ll put up UHart colors. […] We didn’t spend any money on it. It’s a private developer who’s making something, but he wants us to be involved,” said Woodward.

So, in total, the University of Hartford plans to spend around $90 million for these renovations and new additions to the campus. They are planning to receive $50 million from selling municipal bonds. They will raise $20 million in gifts. And they will borrow about $10 million in traditional loans. In terms of whether or not tuition will be raised for students, President Woodward clarifies that tuition is not under the same budget as capital projects, and that the building projects will only help to raise more income for the University.  “When people around me say ‘We are not getting raises and the tuition is going up, but we are doing all of this building’ these budget plans don’t actually exist in the same buckets or business operations.”

Changes to the campus, and the university as a whole, have already begun, as mentioned before with the Barney School and Student Success Center. For President Woodward’s “vision”, UHart is currently in year one of its four-year plan. By fall of 2021, he hopes for the academic building to have opened. If all goes according to plan, by the year after, the wellness center should be completed and ready for use. He hopes that by the end of all of this, with the growth of new academic programs through the expansion of in-demand areas of study, more students will want to attend the University of Hartford, knowing that the university has more to offer, and will be able finish their academic careers here as well.