April 27, 2015

As retirement nears, Trotman Reid reflects on USJ’s growth, future

Q&A talks with Pamela Trotman Reid, who will retire as president of the University of St. Joseph at the end of this academic year.

Q: Reflecting on your seven years as USJ president what have been your most important accomplishments?

A: Moving to University status and launching the School of Pharmacy are two of the achievements that I am most proud of, but I am also very pleased to have helped raise the visibility of the University of St. Joseph in the community.

I think now more than before we are top of mind when people in the Greater Hartford area think of universities contributing to our community well-being.

Q: What's the biggest opportunity the University of St. Joseph has in front of it the next few years? What's the biggest challenge?

A: Training healthcare providers is clearly the greatest opportunity and also one of the greatest community needs. As we recognize the challenges of autism, USJ can help to meet the need through our innovative Center for Applied Research and Education.

The Center combines educating teachers with expanded service to families of children with disabilities. Additionally, the research in our Institute for Autism positions USJ to develop innovative strategies and services for families and service providers.

Our biggest challenge is to identify educational niches that students want and the community needs.

For example, we are developing a criminal justice program that will focus on restorative justice to develop professionals who have the highest integrity and will bring communities together.

Q: There has been lots of talk in recent years questioning the relevance of liberal arts colleges as the economy increasingly requires students with science, technology, math, and engineering backgrounds. How do liberal arts schools stay relevant in the years and decades ahead?

A: Actually, I don't accept the premise that the liberal arts are not relevant, or that they have become less relevant to success.

Every employer, every corporate and community leader, when asked, indicates that they are looking for problem solvers, creative thinkers, people who can speak and write clearly.

These are the characteristics built into the liberal arts disciplines.

Yes, our society increasingly values specific technical skills, especially in the sciences, but unless these are combined with an understanding of culture, history and community, the skills by themselves are limited in value.

The challenge for the future of higher education is to assist students and all citizens to recognize the many ways we use liberal arts to create value in our everyday family and work life.

Q: You've been a big Hartford booster over the years including sitting on the board of Capital Region Development Authority. Will USJ increase its presence in the city?

A: The University of St. Joseph has always contributed to the development of Hartford through a variety of service activities. I have felt very privileged to add to their service through CRDA and the MetroHartford Alliance.

We are excited by Gov. Malloy's development plans for the city, especially his focus on early childhood education. We see the city in a growth mode and consider the opportunities for the future exceptionally positive.

In fact, USJ already has plans to expand our graduate health programs in downtown Hartford, so you can definitely expect to see our presence continue and grow.

Q: So what do you plan to do after retirement? Will you still live in Connecticut?

A: In July I will be joining my husband in Detroit; he is very happy that he can stop his commuting.

We plan to spend more time visiting our children and grandchildren who live in St. Louis and San Francisco. Additionally, I also have several projects that have been on hold, including mentoring others who wish to build their leadership skills.

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