Hartford Mayor Offers Solutions to City’s Challenges during Talk at Trinity College

Mayor Luke Bronin Speaks at ‘Hartford: Past, Present, Future’ Symposium Hosted by CUGS

​Hartford, Connecticut, November 2, 2017—Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin spoke recently at Trinity College about the potential for partnerships between institutions of higher learning, businesses, and other organizations to help Hartford overcome its fiscal challenges. Bronin’s Common Hour talk was held in Mather Hall’s Washington Room on October 19 as part of the symposium, “Hartford: Past, Present, Future,” hosted by Trinity’s Center for Urban and Global Studies (CUGS) to mark its 10-year anniversary.

“The city of Hartford is a place that helped shape the intellectual life of our country,” Bronin said. However, the mayor added, around the mid-20th century Hartford began to see changes including a diminishing middle class and manufacturing base. “Connecticut shifted attention away from cities and focused more on suburbs,” he said. “We began to see real stress in the model on which our city is built. Property wealth and residential wealth left the city, taxes rose, and there was an increasing percentage shift from taxable hands to non-taxable hands.”

​Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin spoke at Trinity College during the symposium, “Hartford: Past, Present, Future.”
Bronin offered some possible solutions to the financial crisis faced by the city of Hartford. “The state as a whole needs to reassess the way we do business, [recognize] that the structure doesn’t work, and if we have that kind of partnership within the state, possibilities will exist to actually put the city on a sustainable path,” Bronin said. “Until we build a new partnership, we can’t address underlying vulnerability that exists in this city… If we don’t talk about the crisis, we aren’t going to fix it.” Bronin’s goal is “to make sure the city of Hartford is the strong, central, and vibrant part of the state and its improvement,” he said.

Bronin also spoke about the potential of Hartford and the region, which he has put forth as a candidate vying to become Amazon’s new headquarters. “We can and should compete with any metro area in the country,” he said. “I am as optimistic and determined as I have ever been about where this city is going to go and the potential it has.”  

During Bronin’s presentation, he reaffirmed the role higher education can play to strengthen the city. “Trinity’s strength is tied strongly to the Hartford community,” Bronin said. “The first step is for higher education institutions to come out of their walls and make this city their own. The energy that exists in the education realm needs to be brought to the city and there is a need on the administrative level to partner with institutions.”

Trinity’s connection to the city will strengthen with the opening of the downtown campus at Constitution Plaza in December. Many Trinity students already get involved in the city through Community Learning Initiative courses, internships, or volunteering. Vanja Babunski ’18, a member of the varsity women’s tennis team who attended the mayor’s talk during the symposium, said that she appreciated the mayor pointing out the connections between the campus and the city. “Varsity sports teams at Trinity participate in the community service day—called Do-It Day—at the beginning of the school year,” said Babunski. “Each team gets assigned different locations and jobs within the Hartford community. For example, the tennis team spent an afternoon weeding and cleaning Elizabeth Park.”

​The panel discussion called “Regional Thinking and Local Action” was moderated by Garth Myers, Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of Urban International Studies at Trinity (right). Photos by Marc-Yves Regis
The “Hartford: Past, Present, Future” symposium began in the morning with an introduction by Xiangming Chen, dean and director of CUGS, and welcome remarks by Trinity College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney.

The first panel discussion, “Historical and Comparative Lessons,” included William Hosley, principal, Terra Firma Northeast; Thomas Rice ’17, whose senior thesis in urban studies compared the historical trajectory of development and regeneration in Hartford and Providence; and Sara Bronin, Thomas F. Gallivan Chair in Real Property Law and faculty director, Center for Energy and Environmental Law, UConn School of Law. The discussion was moderated by Davarian Baldwin, Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of American Studies, Trinity College.

The second panel discussion was called “Regional Thinking and Local Action” and featured panelists Scott Gaul, research and community indicators project director, Hartford Foundation for Public Giving; Julio Concepcion, Hartford partnership vice president, MetroHartford Alliance; Fiona Vernal, associate professor of history, UConn; and Melvyn Colon, executive director, The Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance (SINA). The panel was moderated by Garth Myers, Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of Urban International Studies, Trinity College.

Bronin was then introduced by Tim Cresswell, vice president of academic affairs and dean of faculty at Trinity.

The Center for Urban and Global Studies plays a critical role in advancing Trinity’s urban and global education on campus, in Hartford, and across the world. Officially inaugurated in October 2007 through a major grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the center has also been supported by donors to the Trinity College Mellon Challenge for Urban and Global Studies. At the core of CUGS’ integrated urban-global studies mission lies Trinity’s unique links between academic programs on campus, experiential and service learning in the city of Hartford, and extended educational opportunities in the world. For more information, click here and here or contact CUGS@trincoll.edu.

Click here to view a video of a portion of the symposium filmed by Hartford Public Access TV.

Written by Dana Martin ’18

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Photos by Marc-Yves Regis. To view the full Flickr album of photos from which this slide show was generated, please click here.