University of Bridgeport

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University of Bridgeport
University of Bridgeport Cortright Hall.jpg
Established 1927
Type Private
Location Bridgeport, Connecticut USA Flag of United States

The University of Bridgeport is a private, independent, non-sectarian, coeducational university located on the Long Island Sound in the South End neighborhood of Bridgeport, Connecticut. The University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC-CIHE). In 2021, the university was purchased by Goodwin University; it retained its own name, brand, and board of trustees

Since its founding, the University has been a strong advocate for the United Nations and education for world peace and development. Despite suffering a severe decline in the latter part of the twentieth century that threatened to close its doors, through a partnership with the Professors World Peace Academy the University was able to revive and expand its offerings in the early twenty-first century. Through its College of Public and International Affairs, the University continues to expand its activities related to the United Nations, international development, international security, peace studies, conflict resolution, and global citizenship.

Mission and Reputation

The University of Bridgeport is fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and the Board of Governors of the Connecticut Department of Higher Education. Many of its professional programs are also accredited by the relevant national accrediting bodies.[1] University of Bridgeport placed in Tier 2 of National Universities by U.S. News and World Report.[2]

The University of Bridgeport prides itself on offering career-oriented programs to students seeking personal growth and professional success. UB was originally founded as a junior college to allow equal access to education: "Ability and leadership must be sought in all groups.” [3] This commitment to student preparation and community service has remained central despite almost a century of changes.

The current mission of the University of Bridgeport states:

The University promotes academic excellence, personal responsibility, and commitment to service. Distinctive curricula in an international, culturally diverse supportive learning environment prepare graduates for life and leadership in an increasingly interconnected world.[4]



Seaside Park, Bridgeport

The University of Bridgeport was founded in 1927 as the Junior College of Connecticut. This was the first junior college chartered by any legislature in the northeastern states. In 1947 it became the University of Bridgeport, when the governor of Connecticut chartered the institution as a four-year university with authority to grant undergraduate (baccalaureate) degrees.[3]

Growth in students, faculty, programs, and buildings was rapid. The College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Business were added immediately, and the colleges of Nursing, Education, and Engineering soon after. The Fones School of Dental Hygiene was established in 1949, the only such school in Connecticut and the second in New England.[5]


Waldemere, P.T. Barnum's residence after 1869

By 1950, the University had moved from the original Fairfield Avenue location to its present Seaside Park campus. The University had purchased the former Seaside Park estate of Phineas T. Barnum, the famous founder of the circus that became the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Barnum, who had served as mayor of Bridgeport from 1875 to 1876, had played a crucial role in the city's cultural and economic development, donating land by the water to develop Seaside Park in 1865. He also built four mansions: Iranistan, Lindencroft, Waldemere, and Marina. Waldemere remains on the UB campus, and the entrance to what is now Marina Dining Hall was originally the entrance arch to this estate.

Under the leadership of Dr. James Halsey as president and Dr. Henry Littlefield as vice-president, UB developed rapidly. Enrollment increased quickly to almost 3,500 students, including a number of international students, and the faculty consisted of 183 men and women. In 1951 the University awarded its first Master's degree. In 1953 the University merged with and incorporated Arnold College, the oldest coeducational school of physical education in the United States, into the College of Education.

The Frank Jacoby lectures were established at the University in 1952 by philanthropist Frank Jacoby "to further the brotherhood of man and the equality of man regardless of race, color, or creed." Each year an outstand­ing national figure is brought to the University campus to deliver a public lecture on the "Brotherhood of Man." Ralph Bunche, holder of the Nobel Peace Prize Award, initiated the series in 1952. Other notable speakers include Eleanor Roosevelt, Norman Vincent Peale, and Martin Luther King, Jr..[6]

Houses in the Marina Park Historic District, Bridgeport, Connecticut; now part of the University of Bridgeport campus.

Under Halsey's presidency the University was able to capitalize on the increased number of people seeking to attend a U.S. college resulting from the baby boom, Vietnam War veterans eligible for a higher education under the G.I. Bill. Strong growth continued throughout the 1960s and 1970s under the leadership of Henry Littlefield, who was appointed president in 1962. He focused on academic excellence, hiring faculty with national reputations, and targeting high quality students. During this period both academic programs and facilities also expanded.

Dr. Leland Miles, who served as president from 1974 to 1987, represented the International Association of University Presidents (IAUP) at the United Nations. He inspired the establishment of courses in peace studies at the University of Bridgeport, and encouraged other university presidents to do the same.

In 1980, the University was licensed to offer the doctoral degree in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.).[7] In 1991 the College of Chiropractic was opened, representing the first affiliation of a chiropractic school with a university in the United States.[8]


However, enrollment began to decline after the waves of baby boom and Vietnam era veterans eligible for the G.I. Bill decreased. By 1990, more than a third of the 50 campus buildings were empty. The University cut tuition and room and board fees to $18,000 per year, but enrollment did not improve.

During this period the city of Bridgeport also suffered from decline. Like other northeastern cities affected by post World War II industrial decline, Bridgeport suffered during the deindustrialization of the United States in the 1970s and 1980s.[9] Suburban flight as well as overall mismanagement, for which several city officials were convicted, contributed to the decline.[10]

With jobs lost and businesses closed, the once thriving downtown became crime-ridden despite several attempts at revitalization. In 1991, the city filed for bankruptcy protection but was declared solvent by a federal court. The case attracted national attention as Bridgeport portrayed itself as a city abandoned by industry, left to bear alone the poverty and social problems of Fairfield County that its suburbs turned their backs on.[11]

With the city in such a state, the campus unsafe due to crime, and enrollment dangerously low, UB faced its own bankruptcy. In 1990, to cut costs the university decided to terminate 50 tenured faculty members, and asked the other faculty to accept a 30 percent wage cut. Instead, the faculty chose to strike, which led to over 1,000 students leaving and the resignation of the president, Janet Greenwood. In fall 1991, interim president Edwin Eigel announced that the Liberal Arts College would be eliminated the following year. After the spring semester undergraduate and graduate degrees would no longer be awarded in 30 subjects, including core offerings such as history, sociology, psychology, chemistry, and mathematics, and the University planned to focus on business and engineering.[12]

In December 1991, serious discussions were held regarding affiliating or possibly merging the University with either the University of New Haven or Sacred Heart University.[13] However, these failed, in part due to the Law school's decision to affiliate with Quinnipiac University to preserve its accreditation, while Sacred Heart insisted that the Law School be included in any takeover.[14]

The University had been approached by the Professors World Peace Academy (PWPA), an affiliate of the Unification Church founded by Reverend Sun Myung Moon. The PWPA was founded to support the academic community’s role in the pursuit of world peace, a vision that resonates with the University of Bridgeport's advocacy of education for world peace and development. However, their offer to bail out the University was initially spurned by the trustees who were concerned that such an affiliation would damage the University's reputation. According to Secretary general of the PWPA Gordon L. Anderson, PWPA wanted to "affiliate with an existing university and help improve it."[15] The PWPA was willing to take over UB's debt, which was by that time $22 million, invest additional money, and recruit students, in return for control of the board of trustees. Lacking other options, the UB trustees finally approved the offer, giving the PWPA sixteen spots as trustees, constituting a majority, and allowing the University to survive:

The irony is that, of all the plans considered, only the World Peace Academy's had the goal of preserving the University of Bridgeport. Other plans might have reduced it to a landlord, renting out its campus. Now, the city, which lost a succession of banks, hotels, stores and industries in the last couple of years, will not lose its educational namesake. As many as 500 people will not lose their jobs.[15]


The PWPA began its investment of $50.5 million in the University of Bridgeport over five years on May 30, 1992,[16] enabling the university to keep its accreditation.[17] This funding enabled the University to increase enrollment and develop its international programs, which became the foundation for its College of Public and International Affairs.

The trustees retained the president at the time, Dr. Edwin G. Eigel, Jr. (1932–2008), who served as president until 1995. He was succeeded by distinguished professor and former PWPA president Dr. Richard Rubenstein, who served from 1995–1999.[18] Neil Albert Salonen, a Unification Church member who served as President of the Unification Church of America from 1973 to 1980, was the Chairman of the University's Board of Trustees when he was chosen to serve as ninth University president. He was succeeded by Laura Skandera Trombley, who was inaugurated as the tenth president.[19]

UB continued to receive funding from the PWPA from 1992 until 2002, becoming financially independent in 2003. In May 2019, the University officially parted ways with PWPA.[20]

Since 1992, enrollment grew dramatically from 1,383 total students to 5,434 total students in Fall 2009, of which 3,129 were undergraduate and 2,305 were graduate students.[21] UB expanded its programs, both undergraduate and graduate, including doctoral degrees in addition to those in Educational Leadership and Chiropractic. The College of Naturopathic Medicine, which grants the Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (N.D.), was established in 1996. In fall 2006, the University began enrolling students in a Ph.D. program in Computer Science and Engineering.

The Shintaro Akatso School of Design was established in 2010 with the generous support of alumni. It offered undergraduate degrees in Graphic Design, Industrial Design, and Interior Design. It is now part of Paier College.[22]

The University began enrolling in its Master of Science Physician Assistant program in January 2011. This twenty eight month program begins with fourteen months of classroom experiences, followed by the second fourteen months focused on experiential clinical rotations in hospital and various outpatient settings.[23]


On July 25, 2019, the University of Bridgeport and Marlboro College announced plans to enter into a merger that would draw on the strengths of both institutions to create an expanded university with deeper connections between professional programs and the liberal arts. However, in September 2019 it was announced that the merger was no longer in the works.[24] On April 2, 2020, Laura Skandera Trombley resigned as President to assume the presidency of Southwestern University in Texas. Provost Stephen Healey was appointed Interim President, and Tarek Sobh, Vice President for Research & Economic Development and Dean of the College of Business, Education, and Engineering, was appointed Interim Provost.

In July, 2020, it was announced that the University of Bridgeport was to be taken over by three Connecticut colleges, resulting in its campus becoming a "University Park" where students from several universities study, eat, live, and work together. The three colleges were private, nonprofit Goodwin University and Sacred Heart University, and for-profit Paier College of Art. The plan was for them to acquire the University of Bridgeport’s assets over a period of time expected to take between 12 and 18 months.[25]

In January 2021, it was announced that the non-profit Goodwin University was taking over the University of Bridgeport, and operating it as a subsidiary, although UB would retain its own name and brand.[26] Four months later, Paier College (formerly Paier College of Art) announced plans to move its campus to Bridgeport, into facilities formerly used by the University of Bridgeport, opening in the fall 2021 session.[27]


University of Bridgeport Bryant Hall

The University of Bridgeport's 50 acre campus is located fifty-five miles from New York City. Seaside Park and Long Island Sound mark the southern boundary of the campus. The Sound provides opportunities for practical studies in marine biology, as well as enjoyment of the beaches for recreation.

The campus buildings are a mixture of older architecture and modern designs. The entrance to Marina Dining Hall, was once the entrance arch to the estate of Phineas Taylor Barnum. Bryant Hall, with its inlaid mosaic entryway and ornately carved banisters and ceilings, was built in 1895 for inventor Waldo C. Bryant. The Carstensen Hall, a facsimile of a pavilion at the 1893 Columbian Exposition, was designed in 1899 for the chemist George Edwards.

The Bridgeport International Academy, a high school, is also on the University's grounds and has use of some of the UB facilities.

Arnold Bernhard Arts and Humanities Center

The Arnold Bernhard Arts and Humanities Center consists of a "pancake and tower" design. The "pancake" is the two-story horizontal core, which includes the Mertens Theatre, the Carlson Gallery, Austin W. Mather Theatre, Littlefield Recital Hall, sculpture studios and rehearsal rooms. The "tower" is the nine-story vertical structure that houses professors’ offices and studios. The building was designed as a center for all significant events, such as convocations, concerts, meetings, and receptions. Opened in 1972, construction was made possible by the support of Arnold Bernhard, former trustee of the university who was an avid patron of the arts.

Wahlstrom Library

The University Library began in a single room in Fairfield Hall, site of the newly-chartered Junior College of Connecticut. After several moves, the library was installed in a new building in 1974 - the Magnus Wahlstrom Library. Named after the Swedish founder of Bridgeport Machines who served as a UB trustee, the building occupies four floors overlooking the Long Island Sound. With an attractive Learning Commons on the first floor and extensive resources and services, the library supports students in all programs.[28]

Wheeler Recreation Center

The Wheeler Recreation Center provides students, faculty, staff, and the greater Bridgeport community with recreational and fitness opportunities, with the vision of providing "recreational and fitness opportunities that are geared to increase an individual’s overall health and well-being."[29]

The center was designed in 1975 to include an Olympic swimming pool, steambath, saunas, three multipurpose courts for activities such as volleyball, tennis, soccer, cricket, and basketball, a racquetball court, jogging track, and weight room. The center offers a variety of wellness programs.

Health Sciences Center - UB Clinics

The Health Sciences Center houses the UB Clinics—the clinical teaching facilities for the College of Naturopathic Medicine, College of Chiropractic, Acupuncture Institute, and Fones School of Dental Hygiene. Each of these specialty clinics are open to the public.[30]

Campus safety

The University campus is located in a high crime area in the South End of Bridgeport. Students were at risk of attack even while walking from building to building on campus. To ameliorate this, the University has instituted a Personal Alarm Locator (PAL) system whereby students were issued portable alarm units that pinpoint their position and enable campus security to reach them in under two minutes, earning the school the Jeanne Clery Campus Safety Award. [31]


The University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC-CIHE).[32] Through its three Colleges, UB offers a wide range of academic and professional programs. These include traditional academic undergraduate degrees, part-time and online programs leading to certificates and associate degrees, as well as specialized undergraduate and graduate degrees.

College of Engineering, Business, and Education
  • School of Engineering
  • School of Business
  • School of Education
College of Arts and Sciences
  • School of Professional Studies
  • School of Public and International Affairs
  • Shintaro Akatsu School of Design
College of Health Sciences
  • Acupuncture Institute
  • School of Chiropractic
  • Fones School of Dental Hygiene
  • School of Naturopathic Medicine
  • School of Nursing
  • Nutrition Institute
  • Physician Assistant Institute
  • Health Sciences Postgraduate Education
  • School of Health Professions
English Language Institute

The English Language Institute offers intensive pre-academic ESL for non-native English speaking students planning to attend the University of Bridgeport. English Language Institute students have access to university resources—Wahlstrom Library, Wheeler Recreation Center, all student services departments—and activities such as the annual International Festival, movie nights, clubs, and trips.[33]

Student Life

The campus community at the University of Bridgeport is diverse, international, and celebrates the uniqueness of each student. Student involvement and leadership in extracurricular activities is encouraged and there are more than 50 active student clubs and organizations, providing numerous opportunities to participate in social, educational, and cultural activities.[34]

Approximately half of the students at UB live in university housing. The campus has five residence halls, offering a variety of single, double, and triple housing options. There is also an apartment complex restricted to full-time graduate and professional students.

Intramural sports, recreation, fitness, and wellness activities are offered to the UB community through the Wheeler Recreation Center.


University Seal

Bridgeport's seal combines four core elements of its traditions and distinct character. In the upper left quadrant is the lamp of learning, which has been an element of the official Bridgeport's seal since 1931. In the upper right quadrant of the seal is the tree of life, symbolizing personal and institutional growth. The lower left shows Bridgeport's seascape, illustrating the university’s campus on Long Island Sound. The lower right quadrant shows the Perry Arch, representing tradition, solid foundations, and performance.[35]

Notable alumni

  • Ellen Alemany, CEO, chairman and CFO of Citizens Financial Group
  • Ivan Barbalić, Permanent Representative to the United Nations of Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Manute Bol, former professional basketball player, one of the best shot blockers in NBA history
  • Fred DeLuca, co-founder of the Subway franchise of sandwich restaurants
  • George Dixon, former professional football player, collegiate football coach, and Canadian Football Hall of Fame member
  • Michael J. Jarjura, Mayor of the City of Waterbury, Connecticut
  • Michael Laude, Director, BOSE Corporation Design Center
  • Bill Manning, President of Real Salt Lake, US Major League Soccer
  • John Rassias, Fulbright scholar, Chair of Dartmouth College Department of French and Italian
  • Dennis M. Walcott, Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development, New York City


  1. University of Bridgeport, Accreditations and Memberships Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  2. [ University of Bridgeport, Colleges, US News & World Report. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  3. 3.0 3.1 University of Bridgeport, The History of UB. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  4. University of Bridgeport, Our Mission. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  5. University of Bridgeport, About the Fones School of Dental Hygiene Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  6. Mary K. Witkowski, Martin Luther King Visits Bridgeport Bridgeport History Center. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  7. University of Bridgeport, Hybrid Ed.D. Program in Educational Leadership. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  8. University of Bridgeport, Doctor of Chiropractic DC Degree Program. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  9. Matthew L. Wald, The Workplace in Transition New York Times, September 5, 1982. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  10. Andi Rierden, Bridgeport is Fighting Its 'Dump City' Image, New York Times (February 25, 1990). Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  11. George Judson, U.S. Judge Blocks Bridgeport From Bankruptcy Court, New York Times (August 2, 1991). Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  12. George Judson, University to Eliminate Liberal Arts New York Times (November 27, 1991). Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  13. Associated Press, Merger of New Haven U. and Bridgeport Proposed, The New York Times (December 8, 1991). Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  14. George Judson, University of Bridgeport Plans Takeover by Sacred Heart The New York Times (January 17, 1992). Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  15. 15.0 15.1 George Judson, Making the Hard Choice at Bridgeport U.: Opting to Stay Alive The New York Times (April 17, 1992). Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  16. The New York Times staff, Bridgeport U. Closes Deal to Cede Control, The New York Times (May 30, 1992). Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  17. The New York Times staff, Bridgeport U. Will Stay Accredited, Official Says The New York Times (June 27, 1992). Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  18. Richard Rubenstein: A Brief Biographical Note University of Bridgeport, June 2003. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  19. Leslie Geary, UB’s New President UB Knightlines University of Bridgeport (Summer 2018). Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  20. Linda Conner Lambeck, UB, Unification Church split approved by all sides Connecticut Post (May 30, 2019). Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  21. National Center for Education Statistics, University of Bridgeport-Enrollment, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  22. Shintaro Akatsu School of Design (now part of Paier College) The Local Brand Co. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  23. University of Bridgeport, Physician Assistant MS. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  24. Colleen Flaherty, No Deal Inside Higher Ed (September 16, 2019). Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  25. Emma Whitford, 3 Colleges to Acquire U of Bridgeport Inside Higher Ed (July 1, 2020). Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  26. Goodwin extends its reach across Connecticut in deal to take over the University of Bridgeport Hartford Courant (January 18, 2021). Retrieved September 14, 2023.
  27. Paier College of Art Moves Campus to Bridgeport, Becomes Paier College Paier College, May 26, 2021. Retrieved September 14, 2023.
  28. University of Bridgeport, About Wahlstrom Library. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  29. University of Bridgeport, Promoting Wellness and Health. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  30. University of Bridgeport, UB Clinics. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  31. University of Bridgeport, Fostering a Safe, Secure Learning Environment Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  32. New England Association of Schools and Colleges: Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE), University of Bridgeport. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  33. English Language Institute Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  34. University of Bridgeport, Student Involvement Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  35. University of Bridgeport, University Seal KEY TO UB: Student Handbook 2020-2021. Retrieved September 15, 2023.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Greenwood, Janet. The University of Bridgeport: Celebrating Sixty Years of Excellence. New York, NY: Newcomen Society of the United States, 1987. ASIN B0006EQ01I
  • Lehman, Eric D. Bridgeport: Tales from the Park City. The History Press, 2009. ISBN 978-1596296169
  • Saxon, Arthur H. P.T. Barnum: The Legend and the Man. Columbia University Press, 1995. ISBN 0231056877

External links

All links retrieved September 15, 2023.