50 Years Ago, June 22, 1973

Dr. Bernard Shea, Ph.D., Harvard, the first president of Charter Oak State College (photo above).

On June 22, 1973, the Board for State Academic Awards, now Charter Oak State College, was signed into legislation by forward-thinking equity champions. 

The solution to inequity and access for many, Charter Oak was formed with input from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) to help women (and men) return to college and complete their degrees with the credits and life skills they had obtained.

“Looking back on the founding of Charter Oak from a 2023 perspective, we can see how forward-thinking this philosophy was.” stated, Dr. Sarah Shea, daughter of first president, Dr. Bernard Shea. She continued, “He [Dad] would be thrilled to see what the college has become.”

Charter Oak State College continues to remove barriers and break the paper ceiling today, having helped over 17,000 graduates realize their degree completion dream.

50th Anniversary Gala a Golden Celebration

A Momentous Thank you!

To mark this milestone anniversary, Charter Oak State College Foundation hosted a 50th Anniversary Gala on June 10, 2023, and has set a big goal to Raise More to Give More.

Thank you to our generous community for helping us raise over $20,000 on June 10 towards our goal of $250,000.

Thank you to the Gala sponsors and advertisers

  • Liberty Bank
  • Liberty Bank Foundation
  • Eversource
  • Alum, William J. Malone, Jolly II Rover
  • B&B Threaded Components Inc.
  • BIG Thunk
  • Calculus of Talent
  • Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce
  • Alumni Association, Charter Oak State College
  • Fiducient
  • Guru Enterprise Group
  • Main Street Community Foundation, Inc.
  • Mayor Erin Stewart
  • New Britain Downtown District
  • The Goddard School of Westport, CT
  • Waypoint Wealth Solutions

  • and YOU!

Join the Celebration with Your Donation Today!
50th Anniversary Program Book

Transformation and Inspiration

The evening agenda included inspirational stories about bold efforts, remarkable generosity, and the Charter Oak State College legacy rooted in higher education degree completion. 

Renee DiNino from i-Heart Radio and the River 105.9; and Jason Jakubowski from Connecticut Foodshare brought that special pizzazz to the evening as cohosts.

The College also awarded the distinguished honor of being named 2023 Charter Oak State College Staff Emeriti to Dr. Shirley Adams, Provost, Bob Frederick, Admissions Director, Nancy Gustafson, Information Systems, Rowena McGoldrick, Human Resource Manager, Paige Pelton, Academic Counselor, and, posthumously, Delores Bell, WIT Program Director.

50th Anniversary Gala
Renee DiNino and Jason Jakubowski

Guest Speaker and Charter Oak Alum,

Trudi Lebron began her degree journey as a single teen mom of two children and was fortunate to participate in the Women in Transition Program (WIT) at Charter Oak State College. She is the author of “The Antiracist Business Book: An Equity-Centered Approach to Work, Wealth, and Leadership,” and is CEO of The Institute for Equity-Centered Coaching.

Trudi shared her immense appreciation for Charter Oak and the WIT program, “Simply put,” she stated, “Charter Oak State College and the WIT Program are responsible for stabilizing the foundation of my academic and business success. Having a four-year degree gave me a chance to get a seat at the table and be in the room. And that changed the trajectory of my entire life.”

Special guest speaker, Tenell ‘Tiger’ Rhodes, earned his bachelor’s degree and Master's Degree in Organizational Effectiveness and Leadership from Charter Oak State College in 2020 and 2022 respectively, keeping the promise he had made to his mother 30 years earlier.

His story of grit, determination, and life getting in the way ended with a solution of credit for prior learning, online coursework, and success!

Dr. Shirley Adams served for 19 years as Charter Oak’s first Provost. She effortlessly managed the academics, the staff, and the many details required to keep our institution achieving academic accreditations and our students achieving academic success.

Dr. Adams' dedication and commitment to adult learners at Charter Oak State College was perpetuated by the creation of the Shirley M. Adams, Ph.D., Endowed Scholarship Fund – New Beginnings.

The Liberty Bank Foundation $10,000 Grant was presented at the gala and a challenge to match the gift was presented. The grant will benefit the Charter Oak Foundation Parents Intent on Improving Tomorrow (PiiT) scholarship program.

 The PiiT fund was created to compliment the WIT Fund, to offer a financial boost to parents living in poverty, for single or married, moms or dads who are working to finish their degree. The matching challenge offered attendees the opportunity to give to the parent’s program and help secure the future of the foundation for generations to come.

Guests from near and far joined the celebration!

Attendees enjoyed dancing, dining, and reminiscing as the Foundation raised funds for the Scholarship Program.

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