University News

University of New Haven Again Recognized by Colleges of Distinction

The University has been included among the 2021 “Top Colleges” list compiled by Colleges of Distinction, a guide for college-bound students and their families that recognizes colleges and universities for fostering a vibrant community and creating engaging hands-on educational opportunities.

August 11, 2021

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Students relaxing on campus

When Tiffany Hesser ’03,’05 M.S., Ed.D., was an undergraduate student at the University of New Haven, she worked full-time as a veterinary technician at an animal hospital, while juggling a full course load of up to 20 credits a semester. Despite her full schedule, Dr. Hesser found the time to connect with her fellow Chargers, discovering how critical the support of her community was to her success.

“My experience at the University was a key part of my future success,” she said. “I would spend hours in the atrium area of Dodds Hall or in Buckman Hall studying with my classmates. Having the space on campus to build a community with my peers was an important part of my sense of belonging.”

Tiffany Hesser ’03,’05 M.S., Ed.D.,
Tiffany Hesser ’03,’05 M.S., Ed.D.,

Now assistant provost for advising and retention at the University and a distinguished lecturer in the University’s chemistry and chemical engineering departments, Dr. Hesser has continued to focus on the importance and power of community in her career. She is passionate about fostering a sense of community for her students, as well as creating meaningful and engaging experiences for them.

Creating this sense of community is one of the four overarching distinctions that Colleges of Distinction, a trusted resource for students, parents, and guidance counselors, emphasizes in identifying colleges on its annual “Top Colleges list”.

Created to help students and their families navigate the college selection process, Colleges of Distinction has recognized the University of New Haven for the 11th consecutive year, lauding its commitment to the undergraduate experience, particularly its focus on fostering a vibrant, inclusive, and welcoming community.

“I am immensely proud of my colleagues and the role they have played in making our university a College of Distinction,” said Dr. Hesser. “Our faculty, staff, and administrators go above and beyond every day and are deeply committed to our students. This recognition encourages everyone, in some of our most difficult times, to keep prioritizing student support and ensure that our students are thriving on campus and in their chosen profession.”

‘It is a great honor’

Colleges of Distinction’s selection process includes research and detailed interviews with schools, with a focus on first-year student experience and retention efforts. They also consider factors such as academic programs, career development, and student satisfaction.

In addition to recognizing the University as a College of Distinction on its 2021-22 list, Colleges of Distinction has included the University in its cohorts of business and engineering colleges of distinction. It highlighted the many engaging and meaningful opportunities that students have, including real-world experience through opportunities such as internships, collaborative learning, and industry connections.

"It is a great honor for the University of New Haven to be included among the nation's Colleges of Distinction,” said Gregory E. Eichhorn, vice president for enrollment and student success.

“This prestigious recognition is a reflection of the dedication of the University's faculty and staff members, as well as the success of our remarkable students and alumni."Gregory E. Eichhorn, vice president for enrollment and student success
‘I love seeing the students grow into their professional selves’

Taking a unique approach, Colleges of Distinction goes deeper than traditional ranking models when assessing schools, promoting engagement over commonly considered criteria such as prestige or athletic prowess. Schools included in each cohort are not ranked but are listed as top schools by state, serving as a resource to prospective students, their families, and high school guidance counselors.

“It’s inspiring to see the University of New Haven commit to the learning styles and community involvement that will best allow their students to succeed in and beyond their college years,” said Wes Creel, founder of Colleges of Distinction. “Every student has their own unique set of abilities, their own goals, and their own ideal settings in which they would thrive. That’s why we don’t rank our schools. It’s about finding the best opportunities for each individual’s needs and desires.”

Specifically, Colleges of Distinction focuses on helping students find those opportunities by exploring how well schools exemplify the organization’s four overarching pillars: fostering student engagement, great teaching, a vibrant community, and successful outcomes.

‘Resources they need to be successful’

For Samantha Morales '18 MHA, the University focused on each of those areas when she was a student. She now embodies a successful outcome as a faculty member in the University’s School of Health Sciences.

Samantha Morales '18 MHA
Samantha Morales '18 MHA is a proud Charger.

From serving as interim program director of the University’s Master of Healthcare Administration program and the School of Health Sciences internship coordinator, as well as a Move-In Day volunteer, Prof. Morales wears many hats.

Through her involvement with students, she continues to foster student engagement and a sense of community, serving, for example, as faculty adviser for the health sciences enhanced learning community. She is also a dedicated educator who is committed to excellence in the classroom.

“I love seeing the students grow into their professional selves during their time as Chargers,” said Prof. Morales. “We intentionally keep our class sizes small so that all students can get the attention and resources they need to be successful. This is particularly beneficial for our first-generation college students, which many of our students are.”

‘The University is very much woven into the fabric of who I have become’

Meanwhile, for Dr. Hesser, being a part of the University community as a student, and, now, as a faculty member and administrator, has been especially meaningful. Her son will now join the University community as a member of the University’s Pompea College of Business – a business College of Distinction.

“I have walked this campus during some of the most memorable periods of my life: as a nervous student, as an aspiring scientist, as a new mother, and as an enthusiastic educator,” she said. “Now my son, born four weeks after my graduation from the University, the one I carried through the halls of Bartels, Dodds, Buckman, and Kaplan Halls, will now begin his own journey. The University is very much woven into the fabric of who I have become in my adult life, as it will for my son as well.”