The Charger Blog

University Again Recognized as a College of Distinction

The University of New Haven was named a College of Distinction for the 2023-24 academic year. The University was also recognized as a national leader in undergraduate engineering programs as well as for its outstanding undergraduate business programs.

August 11, 2023

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

The University was named a College of Distinction for the 13th consecutive year.
The University was named a College of Distinction for the 13th consecutive year.

For Jessica Berrios ’23, ’25 M.S., it was the University’s reputation as a leader in cybersecurity education that attracted her as an undergraduate student. It was the “amazing experience” she had with her professors and the experiential learning opportunities that inspired her to remain at the University as a graduate student.

Berrios knew she wanted to study cybersecurity and networks as an undergraduate, and when she was researching schools, she saw that the University was designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations (CAE-CO) by the National Security Agency – making it one of only two schools in New England and fewer than two dozen nationwide to earn the distinction. Berrios was immediately interested.

As a Charger, Berrios immersed herself in a variety of high-impact opportunities to gain practical experience. She has presented her research at prestigious conferences, including the Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS) conference where she earned the best poster award. The recipient of a Scholarship for Service award earlier this year that is supported by a grant awarded to the University by the National Science Foundation, she will use the award to pursue her master’s degree in cybersecurity and networks at the University.

“I was given many opportunities outside of the classroom to do experiential learning, and I gained many invaluable opportunities through the guidance and support of faculty and staff,” she said. “It was greatly beneficial to have the opportunity to perform research during my undergraduate time, and I was able to publish two papers before completing my bachelor’s degree. I also presented these papers at the DFRWS (Digital Forensic Research Workshop) USA 2023 Conference.”

‘The faculty are exceptional’

Such impactful experiences as Berrios’s earned the University recognition as a College of Distinction recognition for the 2023-24 academic year. The University was commended specifically as a leader for its undergraduate engineering programs, as well as for its outstanding undergraduate business programs.


Colleges of Distinction, a trusted resource for students, parents, families, and guidance counselors, annually compiles a list of the top colleges and universities across the country, lauding them for their commitment to providing a high-quality undergraduate education that focuses on hands-on learning, as well as the relationships between students and faculty, a vibrant campus life, and successful outcomes. It is the 13th consecutive year the University was named a College of Distinction.

Tillman McFadden III ’23, ’24 MBA.
Tillman McFadden III ’23, ’24 MBA.

For Tillman McFadden III ’23, ’24 MBA, the campus community and his connections with faculty were particularly bright highlights of his time as an undergraduate business analytics major. He describes himself as a “very reserved person,” and he says he has built a wonderful community at the University of people who both inspire and support him. He’s also grateful for the relationships he’s developed with his professors.

“The faculty are exceptional,” said McFadden. “Everyone always gave me a chance to voice my opinions and listened to me. They would hear about my interests, grant me recommendations, and look out for me. My current internship was possible through the University on a recommendation. I could never forget this, and I will continue to support the University throughout my career.”

‘The vibrant campus life’

Colleges of Distinction recognized the University’s business programs, in part, because of the industry connections that students such as McFadden enjoy. The University was also noted as an exceptional school for its AACSB accreditation, as well as for the opportunities students have to take part in practical experiences and high-impact practices, such as the Pompea Business Plan Expo and Pitch Competition.

Tillman’s classmate, Avery Alessi ’23, ’24 MBA, says the courses she took that enabled her to explore everything from sports marketing and event planning to leadership were invaluable. She also gained hands-on experience through a variety of opportunities, such as volunteering at the Special Olympics in Florida, something she describes as rewarding and memorable.

Alessi is excited to now have the opportunity to pursue her MBA at the University. Thanks to the 3+1 program, she will be able to earn both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in four years.

Avery Alessi ’23, ’24 MBA.
Avery Alessi ’23, ’24 MBA.

“What I have enjoyed the most about my time at the University is the vibrant campus life and the strong sense of community among students and faculty,” she said. “The University offers a wide array of extracurricular activities, including sports events, clubs, and networking opportunities. My senior year, I had the opportunity to be the treasurer for the Sport Industry Club. Engaging in these activities not only enriched my college experience, but it also allowed me to build lasting friendships and professional connections.”

‘An inclusive climate’

Colleges of Distinction selects institutions based on research and interviews, recognizing schools across the country that offer students a rich learning environment in terms of educational opportunities and campus life.

Raymond Feliz Sanchez ’24, a civil engineering major, is grateful for the opportunities he’s had to get involved in the Charger community, as well as for the hands-on learning and the commitment of his professors. He credits Goli Nossoni, Ph.D., in particular, for making his concrete design class challenging and interesting.

An active member of the University community, he is a leader in the University’s American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers chapters. He considers his involvement in these student organizations to be among his favorite activities as a Charger.

“ASCE has allowed different students to come together and practice engineering principles while applying them to real-life problems,” he said. “This included designing and creating a concrete canoe and having fun. The University also has an inclusive climate, enabling students to have open minds, raise questions, and come to any staff or faculty with difficulties, without being judged or discriminated against.”

‘The sense of community and belonging’

Colleges of Distinction does not rank schools. It offers information about colleges to students, their families, and high school counselors, focusing on engagement over commonly considered college ranking criteria, such as reputation and prestige. Instead of ranking them, Colleges of Distinction lists top schools by state.

“We believe that engaged students are successful students,” said Tyson Schritter, chief operating officer at Colleges of Distinction.” And the University of New Haven’s dedication to experiential learning shows us that each of its students have the opportunity to play an active role in their education.”

That engagement has been important for Berrios, the cybersecurity and networks graduate student. Whether it was the welcoming community or her professors who make it a priority to connect with students, she always felt a sense of belonging. She says there were a variety of great ways to be engaged while building community, citing joining a Living Learning Community as a first-year student as particularly meaningful.

“I was in the Engineering LLC, and I felt very supported due to being surrounded by people who understood my major and the stress that came along with it,” she said. “I made my closest friends through the LLC, and they continue to be some of my best friends. I greatly enjoyed the sense of community and belonging that I feel at the University of New Haven.”