by Angela Fortuna
Central Connecticut State University welcomed its first female and Hispanic president, Dr. Zulma Toro, this past semester.
Now, a semester in, Toro is growing more passionate about achieving her goals for the students at CCSU.
“I think that my first semester went well. I had the opportunity to learn quite a bit about the Central community,” Toro said. “I had the opportunity to make connections with community organizations and their elected officials, and I feel that I am very ready to start a new academic year.”
Toro has had a clear vision for the future of the university ever since she became president. Her vision is focused on four areas: diversity, community engagement, innovation and inclusion.
“My goal is to have Central be an encore institution for Central Connecticut,” Toro said. “We are very committed to student success.”
Another major goal Toro is hoping to accomplish is higher enrollment rates, not only for incoming freshmen but for all students.
“The preliminary figures, which are not official, are encouraging. We will see that our freshmen population has increased significantly. Our incoming transfer student figures have also increased. Our undergraduate enrollment is increasing as well,” Toro said. “Overall, I think that we will see a slight increase [in enrollment figures] from last year.”
Official numbers for enrollment will be released within the next two weeks, according to Toro.
This will be a very busy semester for Toro because she says CCSU is “in the process of launching a number of initiatives.”
“The possibility of helping more of our students and prospective students keep me going,” Toro said.
As of now, the Willard-Diloreto construction is “running on schedule” and is expected to be complete by January 2019.
“In the next six weeks, we will be making ground on the recreation center that will replace the Kaiser Bubble,” Toro said. “That will be a very nice addition to our campus.”
Toro also informed that the new design of the engineering building will be completed soon.
“We will be breaking ground about a year from now [on the engineering building],” Toro said.
The university is looking to fill positions for the vice president of academic affairs and vice president of student affairs.
National searches will be conducted for deans of Engineering, Science and Technology as well as Liberal Arts and Social Sciences this semester.
“We are going to be hiring new academic leaders. We just launched the search for permanent provosts,” Toro said.
When asked about the status of the “student first” plan proposed by Mark Ojakian, president of Connecticut State Colleges and Universities and the Board of Regents, Toro had a positive outlook on how it will affect the CCSU community.
“I think that we are part of the conversations, and we will continue to be a part of those conversations, but I am confident that whatever the end result is will make us stronger as an institution and will allow us to take advantage that we are part of a system,” Toro said.
“It continues to be a work in progress and nobody really knows exactly where we will end up.”
On Sept. 12, at the CCSU opening event, students and faculty will be sharing the new “Central story,” launching a new marketing company. Toro informed that students and faculty have been working on it for months, and is excited to see the results.
The official inauguration of Toro will be held in October.
“I would like to invite students to my inauguration on Oct. 6,” Toro said. “I would like students to take advantage of the activities that are going on with the inauguration. We will be having a number of initiatives and activities that students will enjoy.”
Students, alumni and Toro’s family will be attending the inauguration.
On Oct. 4, there will be a “student-led effort to highlight different diverse organizations and groups.”
“I think that will be a great event,” Toro said. “We have a very unique student population in terms of diversity from an ethnic standpoint.”
On Oct. 5, there will be a faculty-led conference highlighting work that has been accomplished at CCSU.
Toro’s inauguration is happening on the same day as the start of Homecoming, which takes place on Oct. 6 and 7.
“I have enjoyed every minute of my ten years here.”