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CCSU’s First Steps to a Collaborative Community

by Cindy Pena

Central Connecticut State University made its first visit to Downtown New Britain as student leaders, athletes, faculty, staff and administrators took the first steps to build a partnership with the New Britain community.

The group, led by CCSU President, Dr. Zulma Toro, met with various business owners and residents on Wednesday to discuss how CCSU can facilitate the needs of the community.

“One of the initiatives we are implementing is strengthening the relationship of the university with the community. In fact, to make Central the Steward of Central Connecticut,” Toro said.

Students emphasized that CCSU’s visit to Downtown New Britain was essential in accomplishing Toro’s goal of uniting the community.

“President Toro has done a really good job so far getting to know around CCSU, getting our face out there and bringing the community together,” said Madison Norton, a senior at Central. “She wants to get to know the downtown community a little more and kind of show the students and faculty that we have a large downtown presence.”

“We are trying to build a relationship and become more involved and show the businesses that CCSU is here to support,” said Joe Hugley, a player for the CCSU Men’s Basketball team. “She will accomplish her goal because everything she’s done at CCSU is amazing. The student athletes are out here to show how much she means to our school and the things she does in the community.”

CCSU faculty members agree.

“This is wonderful. We [have] never done this before so I think it’s great to partner with the New Britain community,” said Kimberley Dumouchel-Cody, an Academic Advising Specialist at CCSU. “Dr. Toro is really goal-oriented. She came in like a little dynamo and I am confident she’s going to make her mark on New Britain, the community and CCSU.”

Toro arrived at Downtown New Britain in the CT Fastrak and stopped at businesses like Yoyo Ice Cream, Dunkin Donuts, TD Bank and Amato’s Toy and Hobby.

Toro hopes that these businesses will get involved on campus by providing career opportunities and in return, CCSU students will come to Downtown New Britain and shop at these local stores.

“One of the things that we are just exploring here is asking the businesses how we can bring Central closer to downtown and how we can get downtown closer to Central and that’s basically the purpose,” Toro said. “I believe that we have resources that can help the city, but at the same time the city has opportunities in New Britain that we offer to our students and also can offer opportunities for our faculty and staff.”

Danica Levesque, assistant to the owner of Amato’s Toy and Hobby, emphasized that Toro’s collaborative efforts can help stimulate businesses as students become familiar with New Britain and what it has to offer.

“We always wanted to bring the college over and bring them in and get them involved with the businesses around here. We are hoping we will get some customers even though they are teenagers and young adults. I think we have some things to offer and that they can benefit from this store,” Levesque said, who has been working at Amato’s toy store for over 10 years. “It’s a great idea, meeting face to face and talking to the owners and it’s going to make a really good impression on the businesses to feel that they are important.”

Toro was recently appointed as the 13th president of CCSU, making her the first Hispanic and female to hold that position. Ultimately, in the 11 months she has been president, she has made the first steps to reach her goals through these recent collaborative efforts with CCSU and the community.

“I am accompanied by faculty, staff and students and I think that all of us have that goal of bringing the communities together,” Toro said.