Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.


CT colleges must prove value, forge industry partnerships to stay relevant


Gregory Woodward

Q&A talks to Gregory Woodward, president of the University of Hartford, about the major issues facing higher ed in 2020.

What will be the most prominent issues in higher education over the next year?

The public thinks college is for gaining specific skills to be able to acquire and perform a specific job.

Employers actually think differently; they want to employ college graduates who have a reasonable skillset, but who have an equally powerful education in a broader range of abilities such as working in a diverse group, solving problems, being able to communicate effectively, data management and analysis, etc. This very real divide between what the public thinks college is for and what employers generally desire, needs to be understood.

A college degree is more important than ever in our society and students are getting employed, but providing a narrow-minded, career-training education does not allow for the best college experience, or most powerful career path.

What role should Greater Hartford colleges play to revitalize the economy?

Colleges and universities are partnering more and more with businesses to produce very well-prepared graduates for employment. The University of Hartford has several powerful partnerships with area enterprises, including Pratt & Whitney, Stanley Black & Decker, and Cigna, to name a few.

Universities must remain nimble in their degree offerings, and remain vigilant to the needs of the region — an ability often found more readily at private institutions.

At UHart, we have developed new programs in health professions, engineering, business and technology to directly address employer needs for growth and development in Connecticut. While only about 35 percent of our students come from Connecticut, last year, 64 percent of our graduates were employed in the state and stayed to reside here.

A longstanding complaint in Connecticut is that students come here for college, and then leave. What can colleges and state and local governments do to change this trend?

Most of our undergraduates have internships and work experience before they graduate. These local internships provide real partnerships between the university and local businesses. Almost 85 percent off these internships become actual job offers, keeping these great, young people in the state.

Regional businesses, nonprofits, government and other professional services should look to colleges to find interns and future employees, provide scholarships where appropriate — as Pratt & Whitney does for UHart engineers — and help educate universities as to their specific workforce needs and future trends in their businesses.

College leaders and faculty are more than happy to move towards these goals if the communication between sectors is vibrant and timely. UHart routinely asks employers these questions and develops programs towards these ends, perhaps the primary reason why our graduates stay in the state of Connecticut for employment at one of the highest rates in the state.

What can smaller liberal-arts institutions in Connecticut do over the next year to increase admissions and remain relevant?

Colleges and universities need to stop being all things to all students. If we were to each strategically choose our strengths and program concentrations we could share the prospective students and their majors in a more intentional and effective way.

More powerfully, however, is the simple fact that students going to college are a different group than just a short time ago. Forty-one percent of our incoming class this year are first-generation college students, the most diverse student body in history, and the smartest.

Colleges should reach out to these audiences and create support programs to make them successful, as first-gens are the least likely to graduate even after enrolling.

Sign up for Enews

Related Content


Order a PDF