The University of Hartford has developed in a continuous contest between the reemergence of a variety of lived experiences, ideas, and images, and the effort to write in new ways on the intellect's tablet. Economic and demographic imponderables have been balanced by a certain originating boldness. In financially propitious times, we will have to maintain the verve that drove our founders, and that inspires us in times of trouble. One example of this will be the ability to surmount, without disavowing, our origins.
More than anything else, what sets us apart from other, usually older, universities is the endurance of the founders' audacity. They dared to create a new center of learning in an area already overshadowed by more traditional schools. Those involved in the University's maturation have been audacious, often combatively so. But they have also been resilient, knowing when to trim their daring. In all of this, the University is young enough to remember its origins, but old enough to know what of the past must be abandoned, what retained.
The founders' vision, audacious though it was, was limited by what they could imagine, by their perceptions of what was needed at the time, and by the resources available. Sustained by the faculty and staff's acceptance of austerity, benefactors' readiness to increase their support, and persistently adroit leadership and fiscal management, the University has prevailed, going far beyond the original vision. It is no pale revival of the classic academy, nor some mapless drift into novelty, but a place that is both upstart and civil, both focused—and also accepting of "things counter, original, spare, strange," as the poet put it.
The University of Hartford constantly authenticates itself through its graduates' successes. With the writing of this history, it authenticates itself in a different way, by telling its story as a place where the mind and spirit are aroused and where dissent is encouraged. Unlike William James's 'moral equivalent of war,' there is no moral equivalent of ignorance, and the University of Hartford is engaged, rambunctiously, in abolishing it.
We admit learning is work, not just fun. Education is liberating, but we cannot compel others to be free: we must be willing conspirators against ignorance. We encourage students not so much to re-write history as actively to re-think it. In all of this we are bound to the ancient ideal: freedom of the intellect and the encouragement of an alert, curious, informed citizenry—here at home and, increasingly, across the world.
Welcome to our history! Welcome to our future!
Peter Breit, Chair