by Sarah Willson
With the Fall of 2018 semester just on the horizon, Central Connecticut President Dr. Zulma Toro is reflecting on this past year and already beginning to look towards the future.
Looking back and acknowledging the goals she has accomplished over the past two semesters, Dr. Toro said that from the very beginning, her mission on-campus was to develop a stronger sense of community.
“Though we have more work to do, I think there is now more of a family feeling and people are more engaged with the University and with one another,” Dr. Toro said. “I’m proud of that progress and look forward to building upon it.”
Hoping to continue her accomplishments in the upcoming year, Dr. Toro said the university will continue “tackling” the complaints relating to Theater Professor Joshua Perlstein, who was placed on paid administrative leave after multiple former and current students came forward accusing him of sexual misconduct.
Academic wise, Dr. Toro is identifying four areas of key focus for the next year: expanding academic programs, growing enrollment, expanding community engagement and developing new funding sources.
Though one of Dr. Toro’s biggest hopes after taking on the role of president was the increase of enrollment, she said it’s “too early to determine” whether or not the number of students enrolling will rise or fall. Still, the Spring of 2018 semester brought a 1.2 percent increase in enrollment, the highest among the four state universities that were accounted for during the same time period.
Renovation-wise, Dr. Toro said that the “campus of the future” will continue to evolve as time goes on.
“We have an intense schedule of construction starts and completions scheduled for the next four years,” Dr. Toro said. “The renovation and expansion of Barnard Hall will begin this fall. Doors will open in January to the Willard and DiLoreto academic buildings [and], several months later, the Huang Recreation Center for students will be completed.”
Despite all of this, throughout the next year, Dr. Toro said that construction will begin for a new engineering building, parking garage and the expansion and renovation of the Elihu Burritt Library, though students will already be able to see some changes when they make their way back to campus for the fall.
“The summer is always a busy time for our Facilities Department. We have a couple of surprises coming in the fall, but we need to work out a few more details before making any announcements,” Dr. Toro said. “I can tell you that James Hall will be getting new furniture, Sam May, Barrows and Seth North will undergo several upgrades, and we’re adding booths [in] Memorial Hall’s Northwest Dining Room.”
For now, the university’s main goal for next semester is to “launch a capital fundraising campaign.”
“Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we develop new sources of revenue to remain accessible and affordable to Connecticut residents,” Dr. Toro said. “In the coming months, I hope to be announcing a couple of very generous gifts that will inspire other donors to endow scholarships, improve facilities and enhance programs.”