The University of Connecticut’s five regional campuses are experiencing an increase in enrollment and popularity because of the quality education at an affordable price.
The economic climate has only steepened students’ resolve to attend a regional campus.
“The regional campuses are helping minimize the financial strain,” said Avery Point Director Michael Alfultis.
Also the convenience of having UConn in your backyard is attracting students. There are smaller class sizes that you would find at a private college for a public price. There is accessible support and a chance for the faculty and students to become familiar with each other. The 300 new faculty members that President Susan Herbst is adding to UConn will also be distributed to the regional campuses, which already have a more balanced student to faculty ratio.
The undergraduate classes are representations of their communities and are diverse. There are adults returning to college, students working or paying for their tuition, and strikingly “a vast number of first generation students,” said Greater Hartford Director Mike Menard.
The regional campuses have rejected the stereotype of being feeder schools and have proved themselves as a legitimate choice for students who would prefer them to Storrs or another college.
“A lot of people don’t know what we are today and its important to re-educate people about that change,” Alfultis said.
The Regional Forum was devised to help better enhance and facilitate communication from the regional campuses to Storrs.
“It’s been a great opportunity to bring things forward,” said Regional Forum Co-chair and Stamford Associate Director of Enrollment and Outreach Terry Reilly. The forum started in combination with the provost office, and has existed for ten years.
The forum is composed of the registrar and bursar’s office, student affairs, and the dean of students. There are twenty-five members on the committee. The regional forum meets twice a semester at the Greater Hartford Campus for convenience.
“For me it’s about respecting different points of view and the people at UConn are willing to do the same,” Menard said.
They invite people to present and talk about common interests or pick a theme to be discussed.
“More is accomplished when all of your colleagues are in one room,” Reilly said.
The forum also gives updates about the campuses and talks about what their goals are and whether they were met last meeting.
“We can find out about new programs and student initiatives and when we need support the forum is there,” Reilly said.
UConn is working to form bonds between its campuses “I do think that over the years the forum solidified the relationship with the regional’s colleagues at Storrs” Menard said.
The regional directors are constantly visiting Storrs or communicating with technology.
“These efforts to foster relationships are extremely useful to put together agendas and tackle challenges,” Menard said.
The Undergraduate Student Government and Student Affairs invited all the regional campus’s student governments up to Storrs.
“It’s only right that we are at the table in the beginning that will help with making decisions that concern us,” said student coordinator Dan O’Reilly. The inclusion is important because a majority of regional campus students are constituents that can help UConn with their initiatives.
The Greater Hartford Campus is the largest of the regional campuses. The campus serves a broad and diverse community. Its students are from various backgrounds in socioeconomic terms, religious, and ethnic.
“It’s a community that’s extraordinary in its diversity,” Menard said. Director Menard views the campus as being in a suburban location with an urban mission by being a resource in providing service to its community.
The Avery Point Campus is distinguished by its marine sciences. Avery point was formerly a United States coast guard training center that ended in the mid 60s. The stipulation in the will was that the location must be used for educational purposes and thus UConn established the Avery point campus. The location unintentionally became a portal to the ocean and an emphasis on marine sciences began.
The Waterbury Campus is located in the epicenter of the city. The campus is very engaged in outreach.
“The community looks to us for leaders” Waterbury Associate Director Angela Brightly said. Waterbury has also made strides in veteran outreach.
“We are proud to offer lots of opportunity in service learning,” Brightly said.
The Torrington Campus is in the Litchfield County area. The campus is strong in the humanities and boasts the UConn Litchfield writers project.
The regional campuses’ popularity has prompted talks of expansion with more upper division courses so students can stay as long as desired. The long-term goal of dormitories for Avery Point is also a prospect because “Our marine sciences are national caliber programs with great faculty,” Alfultis said.
The regional campuses also want to strengthen their programs, and address their infrastructure with new academic buildings.
A huge number of students are taking advantage of the regional campuses’ programs and resources.
“If you look at the diploma, it says University of Connecticut and that’s very important, it means wherever you are, you are getting a UConn education,” said UConn interim spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz.
If you are at a regional campus you may not have the dorm life. But if you are at Storrs you may not have the marine sciences of Avery Point, the urban experience of Waterbury, the hands on business experience at Stamford, the writing program at Torrington, or the School of Social Work, at Greater Hartford. The regional campuses have their own niche.
“Each of the campuses has their own particular academic mission and all of the campuses are working to achieve those missions,” said Torrington Director Barry Feldman.