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June 28, 2019

SCSU energizes public-utilities management program

PHOTO | Contributed The RWA’s Bingaman will receive the New Haven Chamber’s top honor.

Southern Connecticut State University has unveiled a new academic “pathway” for students wishing to pursue careers in management of public utilities such as electricity, gas and water.

To help fill projected job openings created by the retirements of as many as one-third of the 5,000 public-utilities workers in Connecticut over the next five years, SCSU has created a specialization in public-utilities management within its bachelor of science in business administration (BSBA) degree program.

To make the new pathway attractive to students, annually renewable scholarships of $4,000 for full-time students and $2,000 for part-time students will be made available with financial support from the South-Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority (RWA) and energy provider Avangrid.

In addition, students may also transfer to Southern after earning a certificate or associate degree in public-utilities management at Gateway Community College in New Haven.

The pathway was developed in consultation with a number of the state’s utilities including the RWA, the United Illuminating Co. and Eversource.

"Public utilities face a potential watershed in the shortage of young people applying to take the place of our aging and retiring workforce," said Larry Bingaman, the RWA’s president and CEO, in a statement. The new program, he added, is a win-win-win: “The utilities gain a pool of qualified candidates to assume management and technical positions; SCSU has a new curriculum that meets the needs of local utilities; and the students gain new career opportunities.”

The new SCSU program includes 30 credits that focus on management of public utilities, including water, gas, electric and wastewater. New courses in asset and infrastructure management, green energy and environmental sustainability, crisis/risk management and workforce safety and industry regulatory codes are part of the curriculum.

“I know of no other bachelor’s degree program in the United States that focuses specifically on public utilities management,” said Diane VanDe Hei, executive director of the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, an association of the largest publicly-owned drinking water utilities in the United States. “This unique program should fill a void in the development of future water-utility leaders.”

The curriculum also includes existing academic offerings, including business communications, business law, public utility/governmental accounting and business continuity planning. A number of these will now have sections tailored to focus on elements of utilities management.

“The utilities demonstrated a serious need for this type of training because of the demographic trends and anticipated retirements,” said Ellen Durnin, dean of the SCSU School of Business. “At Southern, one of our commitments is to meet the needs of the state workforce — this is exactly the type of program that will accomplish that goal.”

Contact Michael C. Bingham at

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