Back To The Future: Campus News from 30 Years Ago

The May 1991 issue of The Correspondent, “the newsletter of Greater Hartford Community College”, provides a look back at academic and student life one year before Greater Hartford Community College would change its name. In 1992, GHCC would merge with Hartford State Technical College in a state-mandated consolidation into Capital Community-Technical College later to be named Capital Community College (CCC).

Budget Cuts

Thirty years ago this semester The Correspondent’s front page reported on a “second annual” student and staff rally at the State Capitol to protest perennial budget cut threats from the Governor and the Legislature. With “Don’t Kill The Dream” and “Don’t Cut Our Community College Budget” placards students, faculty and staff won the support of legislators to maintain a budget that would not reduce enrollment that year, according to the story by Marketing and Information Director Susan Rand Brown.

The Correspondent’s front page May 1991

Smith College Connections

“GHCC Women to be Comstock Scholars at Smith College” shared the news that three women students, including Pyschology Professor Lilliam Martinez, current Chair of Capital’s Behavioral and Social Sciences Department, would transfer to Smith College as part of a partnership with the Northampton women’s college. Smith and GHCC created the “Connections” program in the summer of 1990 in which 25 GHCC students took summer courses team taught by Smith and GHCC professors in a five-week intensive experience on the Smith College campus. The program continued into the early 2000s.

Federal Funding and ESL

By 1991 the College had won its first federal strengthening institutions grant and funds were being used to ramp up services and staffing at the English as a Second Language Program (ESL) and tutoring in what is now the Academic Success Center.

The Correspondent’s story, “ESL: Evolution Under Title III”, related how a Title III grant enabled Professor John Christie, Professor Emerita Evelyn Farbman, ESL Coordinator Nancy Caddigan and Counselor Debbie Raimondo to add “electronic gadgetry” to the ESL Lab and bilingual tutors to accommodate students “from all over the globe.”

That expansion decades ago is the foundation for retention efforts today. In 2021, Capital is implementing a five-year federal Title V strengthening institutions grant using bilingual coaches and a Guided Pathways “commons” model to help Hispanic and low-income students enter a program of study and earn their degrees.

Poetry and “The Blue Guitar”

The May 1991 Correspondent also carried a special insert with prize-winning poetry from that year’s student writing contest. “The Blue Guitar” supplement, the name taken from Wallace Stephen’s “The Man with the Blue Guitar”, contained eight poems and an essay by students who were awarded cash prizes.

Professor Emeritus Charles Darling, who died in 2006, was the editor of The Correspondent and authored several books of his own widely recognized poetry. He was the College’s first webmaster and creator of the online Guide to Grammar and Writing that continues to draw a global audience. The emphasis on poetry and creativity that Darling and other faculty members encouraged in students a generation ago continues in today’s Humanities Department and through the Hartford Heritage Project.

English Professor Antoinette Brim-Bell is author of These Women You Gave Me, Icarus in Love, and Psalm of the Sunflower Her poetry and critical work have appeared in various journals and magazines and she frequently participates in readings and literary events. Capital Letters , edited and compiled by English Professor Kevin Lamkins, is a blog for “emerging writers at Capital Community College” that encourages students in creative writing.

Diversity and Inclusion

“The Blue Guitar” inserts included the prior year’s “Greetings from the Faculty” commencement message to graduates. In the May 1991 issue that came from Psychology Professor Bob Heavilin and reflects, then and now, Capital’s enduring commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion:

“You have shared classroom space with students of differing racial, national, generational and linguistic backgrounds. You have traded notes and jokes and anecdotes with returning single-parent females. You have listened to questions and answers being offered by Near and Far Asians; stood in the cafeteria line with White and Black – English and Scandinavian, African and Caribbean; listened to the sweet rhythmic dialects of Hispanic, Slavic and Persian tongues; and swapped viewpoints with members of your grandparents’ generation. No other college or university in Connecticut offers such an experience.”

Alumni and graduates of Capital Community College, including Greater Hartford Community College and Hartford State Technical College, are invited to share their stories.


About @ Capital

A weblog for alumni and friends of the Capital Community College Foundation, Hartford, Connecticut active from 2009 to 2022, Comments and information pertaining to the College and College Foundation are welcome. John McNamara (Editor) Director of Institutional Advancement and Foundation Liaison Retired.
This entry was posted in Alumni, Capital Community College, Diversity & Inclusion, Humanities, Uncategorized, Writing and Literature and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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