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University of Bridgeport
|Date of establishment||1927|
|University president||Neil Albert Salonen|
|Faculty (university)#North American usage||117 full-time|
|Location||Bridgeport, Connecticut, Connecticut, United States|
|Campus||Urban area 50 acres|
|Sports||11 Varsity Teams  |
7 women's; 4 men's
|Colors||Purple (color) and White|
|Athletic nickname||Purple Knights|
|Athletics||NCAA Division II|
|Affiliations||East Coast Conference|
University of Bridgeport is an independent, non-sectarian university located on Long Island Sound in the South Bridgeport section of Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA. The school is the tenth-most racially diverse university in the country.
The university had financial troubles in the 1990s and was the subject of controversy when the trustees were obligated to enter into serious negotiations with and subsequently gave control of the institution to the Professors World Peace Academy (PWPA), an affiliate of Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church in order to save it from closure. Since then, in an effort to boost enrollment numbers, the University of Bridgeport has attempted to recruit more international students.
The University gained full accreditation in 2004 after periods on probationary status, first due to its financial difficulties and later because of the close connection between the board of trustees and the PWPA.
Junior college to full university
Founder and first President Everett Cortright and Dr. Alfred Civillion Fones chartered the Junior College of Connecticut in November 1927 to expand the academic opportunities for local Connecticut youth. It was the first junior college chartered in the Northeastern United States. Cortright, the former superintendent of schools in Bridgeport and a professor of education at Columbia University, knew there was a great desire for higher education, given there were no colleges easily accessible to people in the region.
On the twentieth anniversary of the Junior College of Connecticut in 1947, the governor of Connecticut chartered the institution as a four-year university with authority to grant the baccalaureate degree. By that time, the P.T. Barnum estate at Seaside Park had been purchased. The Junior College of Connecticut was retained and the College of Arts and Sciences and the Colleges of Business Administration were established at once. These were followed soon after by the Colleges of Nursing, Education and Engineering. The legislature of Connecticut acknowledged the school's growth by renaming the institution "University of Bridgeport" in 1947.
The university's merger with the Weylister Secretarial Junior College of Milford, Connecticut, afforded additional expansion. The school became a division of the Junior College of Connecticut, as did the Fones School of Dental Hygiene which, at its inception in 1949, was the only such school in Connecticut and the second in New England.
The school began awarding master's degrees in 1951. Under President James Halsey, the university was among the first American universities to enroll a significant number of international students. In 1953, Arnold College merged with and was incorporated into the College of Education. Founded in 1886, Arnold was the oldest co-educational school of physical education in the United States. It was directed for many years by Dr. E. Herman Arnold, an eminent and pioneering educator.
The university had moved all of its operations from its Fairfield Avenue location to the campus at Seaside Park by 1950. There it occupied 22 acres of choice land that now has grown to 52 acres. An enrollment of almost 3,500 students included the first influx of international students. The university awarded its first master's degree in 1951.
Expansion and decline
The University grew rapidly in the 1960s by capitalizing 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, and international students who wanted to attend college in the United States. Enrollment peaked at 9100 students in 1969. Enrollment declined in the 1970s and 1980s after the waves of baby boom and Vietnam era veterans eligible for the G.I. Bill declined. By 1990, the University had cut tuition, room and board fees to $18,000 per year, but the school's reputation had not improved. More than a third of the 50 campus buildings were empty. To cut costs, the university decided to terminate 50 tenured faculty, and asked the other faculty to accept a 30% wage cut. In addition, the University decided to eliminate its liberal arts college, alienating many students. This led to the longest faculty strike action in the history of American higher education. Dr. Greenwood, the president at the time, quit abruptly, and around 1,000 students left the school, contributing to the cash crisis.
PWPA and Sun Myung Moon
In 1990, discussion began about affiliating or possibly merging the University with either the University of New Haven or Sacred Heart University. The University was approached by the Professors World Peace Academy (PWPA), an affiliate of the Unification Church, but their offer to bail out the University was spurned by the trustees who said the school was "not going to have anything to do with the offer" and were concerned that such an affiliation would damage the University's reputation. (The PWPA, founded by Sun Myung Moon, received about 90% of its funding from the Unification Church at the time.) Many students also opposed the Church's offer, circulating a petition against it. Community members feared that the Church would "brainwash" young college students and feared that the University would be dominated by a cult.
Problems continued to plague the University; enrollment fell to 1,300 in 1991. Debt rose to over $22 million in 1991-92. Serious plans to merge the University with Sacred Heart fell through in 1992; the law school instead wanted to associate with Quinnipiac University, but Sacred Heart maintained that any takeover would have to include the law school.
Eventually, the trustees agreed to give control of the University to the PWPA, in exchange for investing $50.5 million in the university on May 30, 1992, enabling the university to keep its accreditation.
Ultimately, the trustees were left with no choice: there were other universities willing to take over the school, but were unwilling to take on its debt. The University's charter required the trustees to enter into "serious negotiations", and lawyers advised them that closure was not allowed without them, effectively forcing them to accept the PWPA's offer. The trustees gave the PWPA sixteen spots as trustees, giving them a majority.
A two year faculty strike, started in the midst of the University's financial troubles, intensified when the trustees gave control to the PWPA. Eventually, sixty-six professors and librarians agreed to a "divorce" with the University in return for compensation of up to a year's salary. In a similar move, the law school decided to cut ties with the University, separating from it. In order for the law school to remain open it had to merge with a financially-sound university. The law school faculty and students voted to merge with Quinnipiac University and the name was officially changed to the Quinnipiac University School of Law. Some Bridgeport residents, in order to isolate the University and marginalize it, formed the Coalition of Concerned Citizens. They did so because of their view that the Unification Church is a cult.
After the takeover
After the PWPA assumed control of the University, the trustees retained the president at the time, Dr. Edwin G. Eigel, Jr. (1932-2008). Eigel served as president till 1995. He was succeeded by distinguished professor and former PWPA president Dr. Richard Rubenstein, who served from 1995-1999. Neil Albert Salonen, also affiliated with the Unification Church, was the Chairman of the University's Board of Trustees when he was chosen to serve as ninth University president in 1999. He managed several Unification Church related organizations, serving as President of the Unification Church of America from 1973 to 1980, and as Chairman of the List of Unification Church affiliated organizations, prior to becoming the chief executive of the university.
The University of Bridgeport received funding from the PWPA from 1992 until 2002. The University has been financially independent from PWPA since 2003, but this has not eliminated the Church's influence on the school. For example, members of the Unification Church hold important administrative positions at the University: the University's Board of Trustees includes Gordon L. Anderson and has included Chung Hwan Kwak. In addition, the PWPA considers University of Bridgeport one of its affiliates.
Officers of the Board
According to the 2008 Annual Report:
- Frank N. Zolli – Tierney, Zullo, Flaherty & Murphy, PC
- Chung Hwan Kwak – Chairman and President, News World Communications.
- Colin Gunn – Partner, Gunn, Godfrey & Allison
- Norge W. Jerome, Ph.D. – Professor Emerita of Preventive Medicine, University of Kansas Medical Center.
- Gordon L. Anderson, Ph.D. – Executive Director, Paragon House.
- Michael D. Bromley, Esq.
U.S. News and World Report classifies the university's selectivity as "less selective", and 56.9% of applicants are accepted.
Enrollment has grown dramatically in recent years, from 1,383 total students in 1992 to 5,323 students in Fall 2008. This expansion is largely due to the increased number of international students, which are heavily recruited by the administration.
In its 2010 rankings, University of Bridgeport is placed in Tier 4 of National Universities by U.S. News and World Report. Like all Tier 3 and 4 National Universities it is not given a ranking. Incoming students have an average GPA of 2.7.
In its 2006 annual college rankings, The Washington Monthly ranked University of Bridgeport 147th of all 245 National universities, with criteria based on research, community service, and social mobility.
The University, in the South End of Bridgeport, has had numerous instances where students' safety and security have been threatened. This is true on campus, but especially in surrounding areas. To ameliorate this, the University instituted a program whereby students were issued portable alarm units that pinpoint their position and enable campus security to get to them in under two minutes, earning the school the Jeanne Clery Campus Safety Award. Reduced crime has been attributed to increased security on campus, but problems still arise in surrounding areas because relatively few students live on the campus.
- Best Colleges - US News & World Report
- National Universities Ethnic Diversity, U.S. News and World Report
- Judson, George (April 17, 1992). "Making the Hard Choice at Bridgeport U.: Opting to Stay Alive". The New York Times (The New York Times Company): p. B5. http://www.nytimes.com/1992/04/17/nyregion/making-the-hard-choice-at-bridgeport-u-opting-to-stay-alive.html. Retrieved 2009-10-06.
- The New York Times staff (November 8, 1993). "Troubled U. of Bridgeport Is Seeing a Turnaround". The New York Times (The New York Times Company): p. B6. http://www.nytimes.com/1993/11/08/nyregion/troubled-u-of-bridgeport-is-seeing-a-turnaround.html. Retrieved 2009-10-06.
- The New York Times staff (November 22, 1992). "University of Bridgeport Moves to Retain Its Accreditation". The New York Times (The New York Times Company): p. 55, Section: 1. http://www.nytimes.com/1992/11/22/nyregion/university-of-bridgeport-moves-to-retain-its-accreditation.html. Retrieved 2009-10-06.
- Schaffer, Robert Illustrated History of Bridgeport NY: Wislow Publishing, 1992, p. 52.
- Davey, Robert “Moon Over Bridgeport” Connecticut Magazine (July, 1994), p. 69
- Judson, George (November 27, 1991). "University To Eliminate Liberal Arts". The New York Times (The New York Times Company): p. B1. http://www.nytimes.com/1991/11/27/nyregion/university-to-eliminate-liberal-arts.html. Retrieved 2009-10-06.
- Judson, George (December 24, 1991). "Bridgeport U. Nears Accord With Banks". The New York Times (The New York Times Company): p. B5. http://www.nytimes.com/1991/12/24/nyregion/bridgeport-u-nears-accord-with-banks.html. Retrieved 2009-10-06.
- Associated Press (December 8, 1991). "Merger of New Haven U. and Bridgeport Proposed". The New York Times (The New York Times Company): p. 63, Section: 1. http://www.nytimes.com/1991/12/08/nyregion/merger-of-new-haven-u-and-bridgeport-proposed.html. Retrieved 2009-10-06.
- McQuiston, John (October 22, 1991). "U. of Bridgeport Refuses Aid From Moon's Group". The New York Times (The New York Times Company): p. B1. http://www.nytimes.com/1991/10/22/nyregion/u-of-bridgeport-refuses-aid-from-moon-s-group.html. Retrieved 2009-10-06.
- Glaberson, William (October 3, 1991). "A Rev. Moon Group Offers to Take Over Ailing Bridgeport U.". The New York Times (The New York Times Company): p. A1. http://www.nytimes.com/1991/10/03/nyregion/a-rev-moon-group-offers-to-take-over-ailing-bridgeport-u.html. Retrieved 2009-10-06.
- Judson, George (January 17, 1992). "University of Bridgeport Plans Takeover by Sacred Heart". The New York Times (The New York Times Company): p. B4. http://www.nytimes.com/1992/01/17/nyregion/university-of-bridgeport-plans-takeover-by-sacred-heart.html. Retrieved 2009-10-06.
- The New York Times staff (May 30, 1992). "Bridgeport U. Closes Deal to Cede Control". The New York Times (The New York Times Company): p. 25, Section: 1. http://www.nytimes.com/1992/05/30/nyregion/bridgeport-u-closes-deal-to-cede-control.html. Retrieved 2009-10-06.
- The New York Times staff (June 27, 1992). "Bridgeport U. Will Stay Accredited, Official Says". The New York Times (The New York Times Company): p. 28, Section: 1. http://www.nytimes.com/1992/06/27/nyregion/bridgeport-u-will-stay-accredited-official-says.html. Retrieved 2009-10-06.
- Judson, George (August 13, 1992). "Bar Group Approves Transfer Of U. of Bridgeport Law School". The New York Times (The New York Times Company): p. B7. http://www.nytimes.com/1992/08/13/nyregion/bar-group-approves-transfer-of-u-of-bridgeport-law-school.html. Retrieved 2009-10-06.
- Judson, George (August 19, 1992). "Rescuers and Skeptics; Doubts Greet Unification Church at University of Bridgeport". The New York Times (The New York Times Company): p. B1. http://www.nytimes.com/1992/08/19/nyregion/rescuers-skeptics-doubts-greet-unification-church-university-bridgeport.html. Retrieved 2009-10-06.
- Richard Rubenstein: A Brief Biographical Note
- Featuring Neil Albert Salonen in The American Chiropractor, July 30, 2005.
- 2008 Annual Report, University of Bridgeport.
- Public colleges lead state enrollment rise Connecticut Post November 19, 2008
- [Crime Report, https://www.bridgeport.edu/pages/4255.asp]
- Yardley, William (January 8, 2006). "Does It Work? Campus Security - Finding Safety in Numbers". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/08/education/edlife/doesitwork_.html. Retrieved 2009-10-06.
- Jeanne Clery Campus Safety Award Recipients For 2003