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Brief History of the Presidents' College

The University of Hartford's Presidents’ College had its beginnings some 20 years ago, in the academic year 1989–90, as a part of the University’s outreach to the larger community. The Presidents’ College is a program for the provision of non-credit courses designed for adult learners, especially older adults. These courses and related activities, of varying lengths and intensity, are available to all members of the public. Tuition is charged on a per-activity basis, but participants can also become Fellows of the Presidents’ College and receive discounts on tuition and on other University services.


  • The Presidents’ College (PC) was founded, becoming an innovation of its time.
  • Then-president Humphrey Tonkin teaches Shakespeare lectures.
  • Patricia Cremins serves as its director until 2006.
  • Fellows Program established with discounts to its patrons.
  • Connections are made to local retirement communities.


  • Enrollment reaches 1,200 in 200304, with 14 courses offered, and with 225 Fellows.
  • A PC Committee presents an extensive report of the College to the President with future recommendations.


  • The director's position is eliminated.
  • Humphrey Tonkin heads the PC with a corp of volunteers under Nancy Mather.
  • There is an upward turn for the Presidents’ College, and it is housed in Harrison Libraries with surpluses generated by the College going toward increasing the libraries’ collection.
  • Since 2006 there was significant progress. The number of courses offered by the College increased, as have the numbers of participants--to more than 1500.


  • First PC Showcase established with a full day of lectures and panel discussions.
  • Relocation of the apostrophe in the name (President's College) to Presidents’ College in the presence of former Presidents Stephen Trachtenberg and Humphrey Tonkin, and then-President   Walter Harrison.


  • A formal agreement is reached with Duncaster Retirement Community and the University to hold PC classes at its facility.
  • Collaborative arrangements are made with community organizations in Conn.
  • Broadening of programming classes begins beyond literature and the arts to include the sciences, technology, health, and current affairs.
  • Moral support by senior administration grows; the PC is seen as an asset to the University, and a strategy for building audiences for the performing and visual arts
  • Humphrey Tonkin retires and Joseph Voelker becomes director.
  • Steve Metcalf becomes the director as Joseph Voelker retires in 2017.


To view the written story of the Presidents' College by Humphrey Tonkin, see Brief History of the Presidents' College..