University of Hartford announces that President Gregory Woodward will retire

The University of Hartford said Friday that President Gregory Woodward will retire in June after leading the school since July 1, 2017.

“It is after deep thought and reflection that I share my decision to retire at the end of my contract in June,” Woodward said in an announcement posted on the school’s website. “I am extremely proud of the work that I have led here at UHart specifically — and of what we have accomplished together.”

The school listed a long list of accomplishments under Woodward’s direction, including the creation of a 60,000-square-foot center for advanced engineering and health professions, the launch of 16 new graduate and undergraduate programs and the successful reaccreditation of several of the universities schools and colleges.

But Woodward, whose background is in music composition, also made controversial decisions that downgraded the school’s sports programs from Division I to Division III and also caused a large collection of political memorabilia donated to the school to be broken up and sold to private collectors.

Under Woodward’s tenure, the school quietly sold what was known as the J. Doyle Dewitt Americana & Political Collection, one of the most extraordinary collections of American political memorabilia ever assembled — a collection one of the city’s insurance titans spent a lifetime assembling and later donated to the school in the hope that it would be preserved and displayed to the public in perpetuity.

A wealthy private collector and philanthropist offered the school millions of dollars for the collection with a promise to build a museum in which to display it to the public. For reasons that Woodward never explained, the school did not act on the offer and sold the collection, which included items such as the cufflinks George Washington wore at his inaugural, to an auctioneer.

In an interview prior to the auction, Woodward said that as an artist and a musician he recognized that the real value of the collection was its availability to the public, but he declined to discuss what was being done to protect it.

The school said in its announcement that Woodward is a past president of Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and had previously held various positions at Ithaca College, where he led the school’s music conservatory.