University of Bridgeport

Last updated
University of Bridgeport
University of Bridgeport.svg
Type Private university
Academic affiliation
Endowment US $34.133 million [1]
President Stephen Healey (interim)
Academic staff
147 full-time
Undergraduates 3,152 [1]
Postgraduates 2,282
Location, ,
United States
Campus Urban 86 acres (350,000 m2) [1]
Colors Purple and White   
Athletics NCAA Division II
Nickname Purple Knights
Sporting affiliations
Sports12 Varsity Teams [2]
8 women's; 5 men's
MascotPurple Knight

The University of Bridgeport (UB) is a private university in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The university is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education. [3]



Connection to P. T. Barnum

University of Bridgeport Bryant Hall. University of Bridgeport Bryant Hall.jpg
University of Bridgeport Bryant Hall.
University of Bridgeport Cortright Hall. University of Bridgeport Cortright Hall.jpg
University of Bridgeport Cortright Hall.

The stately old Victorian homes on campus date from the late 1800s to the early 1900s some owned by leading area industrialists and some by family and friends of showman P. T. Barnum. [4] The University has restored two of the homes, and done substantial work on a third. These homes, as well as a newer 1937 home in International style, form the Marina Park Historic District, [5] which is on the National Register of Historic Places.


The University began in 1927 as the first junior (2 year) college in Connecticut. Founders E. Everett Cortright, Alfred Fones, and Sumner Simpson saw a need in Bridgeport, then one of only 6 American cities of more than 100,000 residents lacking a college or university. So, they began the Junior College of Connecticut. The school expanded significantly, adding dormitories, acquiring New Haven's Arnold College, and adding a School of Business. The school purchased the former P.T. Barnum estate and neighboring property adjacent to Seaside Park, and became a four-year institution in 1947, when it was renamed the University of Bridgeport. [6]

1947 to 1990

The university continued to grow rapidly from 1947-1969, due to 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, and an Ed.D. program in Educational Leadership was added in 1979. [7] [8] Enrollment declined throughout 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 enrollment continued to decline, due to the decreased birth rate, increased competition, and the then-high crime rate in the neighborhood. In 1990, 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. [9] In addition, the university decided to eliminate its liberal arts college, alienating many students. [10] This led to the longest faculty strike in the history of American higher education. Dr. Janet Greenwood, the president at the time, quit abruptly, and around 1,000 students left the school, contributing to the cash crisis. [11]

1990 to 2003

In 1990, after severe endowment losses, discussion began about affiliating or possibly merging the university with either the University of New Haven or Sacred Heart University. [12] The university was approached by the Professors World Peace Academy (PWPA), an affiliate of the Unification Church, but its 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. [10] [13] [14]

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. [15] There were other universities willing to take over the school, but were unwilling to take on its debt. [13] The university's charter required the trustees to enter into "serious negotiations", [13] and they accepted the offer, giving the PWPA sixteen spots as trustees, constituting a majority. [16] The PWPA invested $50.5 million in the university on May 30, 1992, [17] enabling the university to keep its accreditation.

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, [16] 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. [16]

Once PWPA-appointed trustees constituted a majority on the Board of Trustees, the trustees retained the president at the time, Dr. Edwin G. Eigel, Jr. (1932–2008). Eigel served as president until 1995. He was succeeded by distinguished Holocaust scholar, professor emeritus at Florida State, and former PWPA president Dr. Richard L. Rubenstein, who served from 1995 to 1999. [18] Neil Albert Salonen, a member of 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 had earlier managed several Unification Church related organizations, and had served as President of the Unification Church of the United States from 1973 to 1980, and as Chairman of the International Cultural Foundation, prior to becoming the chief executive of the university. [19] Salonen retired in 2018. [20]

Since 2003 the university has been financially independent from PWPA after having received funding from the PWPA from 1992 until 2002. It has remained non-sectarian throughout. Turnover on the Board of Trustees had led, over time, to a very different composition, when compared to the 1991 board. [21] As he retired, Salonen stated that "2 or 3" members of the Board of Trustees were church members. [20] Under his successor, Laura Skandera Trombley, the Board of Trustees was enlarged to 36 members. She announced, in an email to faculty, staff, and students on May 24, 2019, that "During the May 17 meeting of the UB Board of Trustees, the body unanimously voted to amend the university's bylaws to remove any references to and governance rights of the Professors World Peace Academy, an affiliate of the Unification Church...This amendment finalizes a termination process, which was long under way. The board expressed its gratitude for previous support.” [22]

2004 to Present

Enrollment has grown from 1,383 total students in 1992 to 5,323 students in fall 2008, a trend which continued throughout the decade, with 5,434 students enrolled in fall 2018. In 1991, the school added a chiropractic program, the first university-affiliated program of its kind in the U.S. [23] Additional doctoral programs in naturopathic medicine and computer science and engineering were added in 1996 and 2006. [24] [25] The Physician Assistant Institute matriculated its first class at the university in January 2011. [26] In 2014, the school partnered with the Peace Corps to offer New England's first Peace Corps Preparatory Program. [27] At present the program has Accreditation-continued status with the relevant accreditor Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant and its next review is 2020. [28] In 2014, the School of Nursing at Bridgeport Hospital began a merger with the University which was completed over the next few years.

In its 2012 rankings, University of Bridgeport placed in Tier 2 of National Universities, by U.S. News and World Report , with a 57.5% acceptance rate. [1] According to the university's website incoming students have an average GPA of 3.0, and an average SAT score of 1000 (Math and Verbal), 80% go on to get their masters. [29] 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. [30] The University of Bridgeport is fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. The university is also accredited by the board of governors of the Connecticut Department of Higher Education. [31]

Academic programs range from associate degrees in areas such as Business Administration and Dental Hygiene, to Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Music, and Bachelor of Science degrees in areas such as Accounting, Psychology, Graphic Design, Computer Science, Mathematics, Biology, Music, Computer Engineering, and International Business. The school also offers masters and doctoral programs in areas such as Business, Counseling, Engineering, Naturopathic Medicine, and Education. UB also has adult and continuing education/distance learning programs on their main campus, as well as their Waterbury branch campus, with a total of 125 different programs of study. [32]

For undergraduates, as of 2004, the school has started an honors program that allows for the awarding of an honors degree upon graduation, if certain honors course requirements and academic standards (such as a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0) have been maintained. The program also offers additional course options to students enrolled in the honors program. [33]

As of 2014 the university consisted of thirteen schools, institutes and colleges: [34]

  • School of Arts and Sciences
  • Ernest C. Trefz School of Business
  • College of Public and International Affairs (CPIA)
  • School of Engineering
  • Shintaro Akatsu School of Design (SASD)
  • Fones School of Dental Hygiene
  • School of Continuing and Professional Studies
  • College of Chiropractic
  • School of Education
  • College of Naturopathic Medicine
  • Acupuncture Institute (UBAI)
  • Nutrition Institute
  • Physician Assistant Institute (PAI)
  • School of Nursing (In April 2014 the University of Bridgeport and Bridgeport Hospital announced an agreement to absorb the Bridgeport Hospital School of Nursing into the university, forming the University of Bridgeport School of Nursing.)

In 2018, the University reorganized these colleges and schools into three colleges (with constituent programs and schools), in order to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration, streamline administrative channels, and create clarity and identity for current and potential students:

On July 25, 2019, the University of Bridgeport and Marlboro College announced plans to enter into a merger that would draw on the strengths of both institutions to create an expanded university with deeper connections between professional programs and the liberal arts. [35] It was announced in September 2019 that the merger was no longer in the works. [36] On April 2, 2020, Laura Skandera Trombley resigned as President to assume the presidency of Southwestern University in Texas. Provost Stephen Healey was appointed Interim President, and Tarek Sobh, Vice President for Research & Economic Development and Dean of the College of Business, Education, and Engineering, was appointed Interim Provost.

In January of 2021, it was announced that the non-profit Goodwin University would be taking over the University of Bridgeport, and operating it as a subsidiary, although UB would retain its own name and brand. [37]

In March 2021, Paier College (formerly Paier College of Art) announced plans to move its campus to Bridgeport, Connecticut, into facilities formerly used by the University of Bridgeport, before the start of the fall 2001 session. [38]


In its 2013 rankings, the online graduate computer information technology program was ranked #4 by U.S. News & World Report [39] and it was ranked # 1 in its 2012 rankings [40] while the online bachelor's degree program at UB was ranked #12. [41] The online master's degree in engineering was also ranked #16 in 2013.

Campus life

Greek Life

Recognized fraternities and sororities at the university include: [42]

Alpha Kappa Alpha Alpha Phi Alpha
Chi Upsilon Sigma
Delta Sigma Theta
Lambda Pi Upsilon
Sigma Gamma Rho
Zeta Phi Beta


The University of Bridgeport competes in NCAA Division II athletics and has eight women's sports, and five men's sports. [43] The Women's Soccer Team were the 2018 National NCAA Division II Champions.

Campus safety

Around 2000, to address safety concerns both on and off-campus, the university instituted a program where students are issued a portable alarm unit (PAL) that pinpoints their position and enables campus security to get to them in under two minutes. This system works immediately on the university campus, and in the neighborhood surrounding campus. Further, the Campus Security Department has 40 unarmed personnel that provide security services 24 hours a day, with both on-foot and on bicycle patrols. In 2018, in the midst of a rapid gentrification in the neighborhood surrounding the campus, the global security firm ADT ranked UB as the safest campus in Connecticut. [44] In 2019, the University discontinued the use of PALs in favor of the LiveSafe app for mobile devices.


University seal

Bridgeport's seal combines 4 core elements of its traditions and distinct character. In the upper left quadrant, the lamp of learning, which has been an element of the official Bridgeport's seal since 1931, is shown. In the upper right quadrant of the seal, the tree of life is shown, symbolizing personal and institutional growth. The lower left shows Bridgeport's seascape, illustrating the university's campus on Long Island Sound. The lower right quadrant shows the Perry Arch, representing tradition, solid foundations, and performance. [45]

Notable people



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Coordinates: 41°09′57″N73°11′28″W / 41.16586°N 73.19109°W / 41.16586; -73.19109