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Newness to greet students headed back to college

August 25, 2018

There are new dorms, new presidents and new traditions to greet college students when they begin returning to class next week across the state.

In all, there are expected to be more than 300,000 students enrolled in the state’s 19 public and 22 private higher education institutions, if the last academic year is any indication.

Tuitions are higher, budgets are tighter — particularly with public colleges and universities in the state — but every campus seems to have managed to offer something new for the incoming Class of 2022.

At the University of Bridgeport, the new academic year kicks off with a new president, Laura Trombley, changes to the academic structure with the consolidation of 14 programs into three colleges and a plunge into Long Island Sound.

Trombley, who has a great view of Seaside Park and the water from her eighth-floor office on top the Wahlstrom Library, has introduced what she hopes will be a new tradition.

“We have access to a Frederick Olmsted-designed park with a beautiful three-mile beach, and this is a great opportunity to use it,” Trombley said.

On Friday afternoon, new students were to meet on the lawn of the president’s house on campus for a pep rally before heading out to the beach to make a splash.

The first 200 students were to receive a free T-shirt, and Trombley pledged to buy fall semester textbooks for the student showing the most Purple Knights spirit.

UB officials are still counting heads but anticipate about 500 freshmen who hail from 19 states and more than 40 countries, including China, India, Brazil, Morocco, Nigeria and Sweden.

The Swede is a soccer star whose team participated in and won the Gothia Cup, a World Cup for international youth.

“She will be starting this year on our women’s soccer team as an attacking midfielder,” said Susan Andrews, a university spokeswoman.

UB’s youngest new undergraduate student is 17 years old and its oldest is 66.

Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, meanwhile, will welcome its largest incoming freshman class in history. Some 1,496 freshmen enrolled from an applicant pool of 10,619, according to Deborah Noack, SHU’s director of communications.

The freshman class has grown 73 percent since 2012.

They are smart, with an average grade point average of 3.5. Of them, 122 will be enrolled in the Thomas More Honors Program. The class also includes eight sets of twins or triplets.

Students at Sacred Heart come from 26 states and six countries. Nine out of 10 come from Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

Another record for Sacred Heart is the number of students living on campus — 2,919 students — thanks in part to the new Toussaint Hall, a new dorm built on the former Jewish Home for the Elderly property adjacent to campus.

Sacred Heart has also grown off campus, with recent acquisitions of both Great River Golf Club in Milford and the former General Electric headquarters in Fairfield, now referred to as West Campus. The West Campus is designed to serve as an innovation hub, focused on computer engineering, computer gaming and cybersecurity.

Students started moving back to Sacred Heart University on Friday. Classes at Sacred Heart begin Aug. 27.

At Fairfield University, there is a new residence hall named “42 Langguth,” which will have an official ribbon cutting ceremony on Sept. 5.

The incoming freshman class at Fairfield numbers 1,114 at the moment. It is on track to be Fairfield’s largest freshman class, said Susan Cipollaro, a university spokesman.

Fairfield also has a new dean for the Dolan School of Business. It’s Egan School of Nursing has won a national excellence award and its capital campaign, the Fairfield Rising Campaign, raised $218 million, surpassing its original goal of $160 million. Construction on a new Dolan School of Business continues.

Move in day at Fairfield is on Sept. 2.

At Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport, there is a new online general studies degree, the community college’s first. There is also a new program called SCSU@HCC which will allow students to take Southern Connecticut State University courses at Housatonic Community College or Gateway Community College in New Haven.

The pilot program was created to encourage community college students to go on for a four-year degree. All three institutions are part of the Connecticut State College and University system.

“We harmonize so many things already, we are trying to make things as seamless as possible,” Evelyn Gard, an HCC spokeswoman, said. She called it a no barrier approach to higher education attainment.

At Norwalk Community College, there are new Panther Advising Workshops for students entering college for the first time that offer one-on-one help with advising, registration and other college resources.

“PAWS aims to set first-time students off on the right track to success,” said Karla Lara, NCC Student Retention Specialist. “And once they leave the workshop, they know how to directly reach out to one of us for any assistance moving forward.”

Charter Oak State College, the state’s online degree program, has a new online Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education plus an online Associate of Science in Early Childhood Education.

Charter Oak has also launched a tuition match scholarship program that allows recent community college grads to finish their bachelor’s degree with Charter Oak at the Community College tuition rate.

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