West Hartford Native Named University of Hartford’s New President

Gregory Woodward has been named president of the University of Hartford. Courtesy photo

Gregory Woodward, a graduate of West Hartford’s Hall High School, will become the University of Hartford’s sixth president, succeeding Walter Harrison, who will retire on June 30.

Gregory Woodward has been named president of the University of Hartford. Courtesy photo

Gregory Woodward has been named president of the University of Hartford. Courtesy photo


The University of Hartford Board of Regents on Tuesday appointed Gregory S. Woodward as the University’s next president. He will be introduced to the campus community on Wednesday, Dec. 14.

Woodward will take office on July 1, 2017, succeeding Walter Harrison, who will retire on June 30, 2017, after serving 19 years as president. Woodward comes to UHart from Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where he has been president since 2012. He will be the University’s sixth president in its 59-year history.

“I am honored and humbled by this new opportunity,” said Woodward following his appointment. “I am impressed by the wide range of programs offered at the University and believe that this is a unique strength of the institution. The University is well on its way to becoming a leading model for higher education in the 21st century. I am tremendously inspired and energized to work with the full complement of the community to further realize the vast potential of the University.”

Woodward earned his Doctor of Musical Arts from Cornell University, where he was a student of Pulitzer Prize-winning Czechoslovakian composer Karel Husa. He also played soccer at Cornell.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut and his master’s degree from Ithaca College. He was a fellow in higher education at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education and is a graduate of Harvard’s New President Institute.

University of Hartford Board of Regents Chair Lucille Nickerson announced Woodward’s appointment to the campus community and alumni following a Dec. 13 morning regents meeting at which Woodward was unanimously approved. Nickerson was a member of the 12-member Presidential Search Committee that worked for nearly a year reviewing applicants and ultimately recommended Woodward to the board as the candidate for appointment.

“Of the many candidates whose credentials were considered, Greg emerged as the clear leader,” said Nickerson in her announcement. “We began our search by listening carefully to the UHart community about the qualities and experience it felt important to have in the University’s next leader. Greg’s experience and accomplishments align with an ambitious vision for this University.”

About his appointment, Woodward also said, “As I look around the UHart campus and see the wide and diversified range of learning— learning that spreads across the full spectrum of educational needs from magnet schools, to Hillyer College, to undergraduate schools and colleges, graduate programs, and, finally, sophisticated pedagogical delivery models for non-traditional students—I see a University engaged in discovering and delivering advanced learning for almost any learner. The University of Hartford should be very proud of what it has become in its young history and fully aware of the special position it holds.”

A composer, musician, athlete, and scholar, Woodward has spent nearly four decades working in almost every conceivable role in higher education. Under his leadership, Carthage recently completed a 10-year strategic plan, “Carthage in the Year 2025.” He created Carthage’s first President’s Task Force on Diversity. He focused on the student experience, including creation of a Center for Student Success, the addition of scholarship opportunities particularly for underrepresented groups and students who encounter unexpected financial need, and the creation of new positions for experienced professionals to coordinate student internship opportunities. He increased the number of women in Carthage’s administration and on the board of trustees, raised first-year retention rates, as well as graduation rates, and implemented enrollment efforts that increased the percentage of first-year students of color by 75 percent. During his tenure at Carthage, a new Bachelor of Science in Nursing major was introduced, major revisions were made to the Honors Program, and the college received its largest philanthropic gifts.

Prior to Carthage, Woodward rose through the academic administrative ranks at Ithaca College, where, as dean of the School of Music, he led one of the premier undergraduate music conservatories in the country. He joined Ithaca’s Department of Music Theory, History, and Composition as a composer in 1984, becoming a full professor in 2000. At Ithaca, he also served as dean of graduate and professional studies and as interim provost/vice president for academic affairs. He previously served on the music faculties at Cornell and Valparaiso universities and was an ongoing guest lecturer in the School of Music at Yale University.

Woodward has been heavily involved in the Kenosha community where he has served on the board of directors for United Way of Kenosha County and was Kenosha’s 2012 Honorary United Way Campaign Chair. He was a member of the Kenosha Unified School District Community Partners’ Alliance and the Kenosha County Strategic Visioning Process task force. Additionally, he served on the boards at the Kenosha Area Business Alliance, the Three Harbors Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha, and The Prairie School in Wind Point, Wisconsin.

Woodward was selected following an extensive global search. Regent Kathy Behrens, a 1985 graduate of the University’s College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions, chaired the committee, which was composed of regents, faculty, staff, alumni, and a student.

“We could not be more thrilled to bring Gregory Woodward to the University of Hartford,” Behrens said. “With every conversation and interaction our committee had with him, we became more energized by his passion and vision for what the University can become. Following the highly successful tenure of Walt Harrison, we knew we needed someone with the intellect, relationship skills, and savvy that Greg has.

“As a University alumna and regent, I was particularly impressed by Greg’s understanding of UHart’s mission and the values that make us so special. Alumni of all ages will enjoy getting to know him and seeing him work with stakeholders to help the University grow and thrive for a new generation of students.”

“Greg Woodward is an exciting choice for the University,” said search committee member Robert Black, a professor in – and 1979 graduate of – The Hartt School. “The combination of his deep belief in the power of a liberal arts education to effect positive changes in people’s lives and the world in general, his strong commitment to the student experience, and his enthusiasm for and understanding of all the parts and constituents of the University point toward a bright future for our community.”

Director of Student Centers Charles Amerson, who served on the search committee and earned both bachelor’s (1996) and master’s (1999) degrees from UHart, said, “Three words sum up my impressions of Greg Woodward —energetic, galvanizing, and knowledgeable. He has an energy that is very infectious. His excitement and enthusiasm about the possibilities within the University gave me a rush of institutional and professional pride, and his rise through the ranks of both faculty and administration shows that he has the experience and accomplishment we need in our next president.”

Student search committee member Yonina Bykov, a senior biology/respiratory therapy major from Suffield, Conn., said Woodward “is passionate, energetic, and exciting. As a student, I can sense his genuine interest in making a positive impact on the overall University experience for students and in providing a unique educational opportunity that will make us all even more proud to be Hawks.”

Woodward is married to Penelope Woodward, an accomplished public school music teacher; they have three adult children. A graduate of Hall High School in West Hartford, CT, he studied saxophone privately as a high school student with Jackie McLean, the great American jazz saxophonist for whom The Hartt School’s Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz is named. Woodward also took music courses part time at The Hartt School while he was in college.

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