At its meeting on May 21, 2021, the Hartford Seminary Board of Trustees voted unanimously to change the name of the institution to Hartford International University for Religion and Peace in the fall of 2021. We will also use shortened forms of this name, including “Hartford International,” “Hartford International University,” and the acronym “HIU.”
The following information addresses questions we know our community will have.
What led to the name change?
A Strategic Planning Process that began in 2019 revealed a changing landscape and a desire to broaden the communities we serve. The outcome of that process led Hartford Seminary to restructure its revenue model, its degrees and programs, and its outreach.
To this end, Hartford has already begun to shift its focus from offering a diverse collection of religious studies and interfaith programming to initiatives that emphasize academic and professional interreligious and peace studies, executive and professional education, religion research, and global and community partnerships.
During another year of intense study and evaluation in 2020-2021, the institution decided that a new name would enunciate our future with clarity and an expansive sense of purpose. Our international reputation and student body also figured into the renaming.
Does the new name reflect a new mission?
No. Our mission remains the same, though we hope to reach more people. Hartford International University continues to be a pioneering, interreligious graduate school devoted to deepening humanity’s understanding of different faiths and how we can thrive together. Hartford International will continue to help people of different faiths to find peace within and with each other. Hartford International will also continue to foster the interreligious environment, and share the knowledge, skills, and the tools that have helped thousands of people deepen their faith and lead many thousands more out of conflict.
Hartford International University’s mission is even more relevant to the emergent world we live in today – where our neighbors increasingly look different, speak a different language, eat a different cuisine, dress differently, and practice a different faith (or do not identify with faith). For this emerging reality, Hartford International University has been training community leaders who can help their members find comfort and strength in their differences while celebrating and deepening their own faith.
Hartford International University has several institutes and programs that are exploring the boundaries of society’s critical fault lines around religion, gender, race, and national and international conflict. Holding and elevating peace across these boundaries remains the mission of Hartford International.
How will the name change benefit the institution?
Among others, there are four main ways in which the name change will benefit us.
First, the name Hartford International University for Religion and Peace deepens our mission and accurately reflects the new strategic plan and the range and quality of our graduate and certificate programs, executive and professional education, religion research, and global and community partnerships.
Second, the adoption of international university in our name represents a logical next step for the institution and will help to expand our market both in the United States and overseas.
Third, the term international university is synonymous with higher education worldwide, whereas in many cultures, the word “seminary” is equated with an institution that trains Christian clergy. Many international Muslim and Jewish students may not consider Hartford Seminary as an option simply because of its “seminary” label. This was confirmed in various conversations with and surveys of international students.
Fourth, we already operate more as an international university than a seminary, and our name should reflect that. The term “university” is considered to be more academically rigorous. External research conducted with prospective students indicates that students overwhelmingly correlate “international university” with a wide variety of programs and initiatives, more opportunities for global involvement, a better quality of educational experience, prestige and more marketable graduates.
When will the name change take effect?
Hartford Seminary will officially become Hartford International University for Religion and Peace on October 13, 2021.
Where did this idea come from?
The Strategic Planning Team, which led a 2-year strategic planning process with our board, faculty and staff, recommended that we explore the possibility of a name change in April of 2020.
Will the name change affect the interfaith tradition at our core?
No. We believe it will enhance it. This is because the new name is a better outward reflection of the breadth of what we already offer. The interfaith tradition – the core of our institution – remains at the center of the Hartford International University experience. Our engaging curriculum and pedagogy make a Hartford International University education both special and prestigious, and it will remain true to form.
How will the name change impact the student-faculty relationship? Will class sizes increase?
We expect classes will grow in programs where there is capacity for growth, but we are committed to maintaining the dialogical classroom experience we’ve always offered: small classes, excellent instruction by professors who care about their students, a full interreligious program of study, valuable co-curricular activities, an interfaith residential community, and one of the best values in interreligious and peace studies education.
As a part of this vision, we will continue to leverage technology to enhance the student-faculty relationship, not replace it.
Hartford International University faculty already are engaged beyond the classroom:
- publishing research (often conducted with students)
- presenting at conferences
- public speaking
- attending workshops, seminars, or other events
- actively contributing to academic and professional organizations
- providing guidance and information for media organizations
How does the name change affect admissions and admission standards?
Hartford International University’s role and mission will remain the same; a change in our name in and of itself will not necessitate a change in admission standards.
Will this result in higher or lower tuition?
Tuition costs will not be determined or affected by the name change. As part of its annual budget process, Hartford International University reviews a number of variables to determine if a tuition increase will occur.
Is Hartford International University for Religion and Peace still an accredited degree granting institution?
Yes, there is no change to our accreditation status. Both of our accreditors, the New England Commission of Higher Education and the Association of Theological Schools, have approved our new degrees and accepted our name change.
Does Hartford International University intend to offer undergraduate degrees as part of the name change?
Not at this time.
What will the degrees/diplomas say?
Students graduating in December 2021 and in 2022 will have the option of either Hartford Seminary or Hartford International University for Religion and Peace on their diplomas. After May 2023, all diplomas issued will be from Hartford International University for Religion and Peace.
Can alumni request new diplomas with the new name?
Yes! Alumni should use the normal procedure to request official copies from the Registrar’s office, which will be provided free of charge until May 2023. After that time, the normal of $25 will be charged for each diploma requested.
What name will appear on my transcript?
Hartford International University for Religion and Peace will appear on all official transcripts after the changeover. The former name will be reflected in the transcript key information for courses taken prior to this time. New transcript requests for alumni will be free of charge for the first year. Starting May 2023, the normal rate will apply.
Will the name change affect my student loans?
No. Student loans will not be affected.
Will the institutional logo change?
Yes, the logo and the word mark will change to reflect the new name. The new logo is the Hartford International Ascending Dove.
The new logo was created to evoke a universal response: One of hope, peace, and unity.
Incorporating the colors found in the flags of the world, the five geometric shapes come together and work as one, forming an ascending dove.
In addition to peace, the ascending dove logo also symbolizes our students journeying out, or ascending, into the world and back to their communities. They become messengers of peace and respect, helping people lean into differences while deepening their faiths.
How do we refer to ourselves?
We will be known as (1) Hartford International University for Religion and Peace, (2) Hartford International, (3) Hartford International University, or (4) HIU. All four versions of our name have been authorized for use by the institution and may be used by constituents in written materials and other communications, depending on context and need.
What happens to the Seminary seal?
In addition to our logo, the seal has also been updated to reflect the name change.
Will the Hartford International website URL or email change?
Yes. The URL hartfordinternational.edu will be the new domain for the Hartford International University website and email addresses. Our website will become the top search result for “Hartford International” as we update our web presence to reflect the new name in Fall 2021. People searching for Hartford Seminary will automatically be redirected to the new domain.
Will our social media sites change?
Our social media accounts and pages will be adjusted to reflect the name change.
Will the institution’s marketing be changed?
Yes. All communication and marketing efforts will be adjusted to reflect and capitalize upon our new name. Our core mission and values will not change and will remain at the center of our messaging. A name change is, in essence, a rebranding. This long-term campaign will solidify and expand our place in the market and clearly communicate who we are as an institution. When needed, “formerly Hartford Seminary” may be used in certain marketing materials.
Was research conducted on the acceptance and impact of the name change?
Yes. The idea to move away from “seminary” has been raised many times over the years. In the first quarter of 2020, the Board of Trustees asked that we begin a serious exploration of the question. That effort began with market research by Elliance, a higher education marketing agency, and continued with extensive outreach to students, faculty, staff, and alumni.
Will hiring employers perceive a difference between the terms “seminary” and “international university” when they review candidates?
The employers with whom we work most frequently are familiar with the name Hartford Seminary, and a change from seminary to “international university” is not likely to have a significant impact on their generally positive perception of our graduates.
We do believe that for employers who are further away and less familiar with us this will have a positive impact.
May I change my resume to reflect “international university?”
Certainly. Graduates have flexibility, depending on their needs and preferences, to use the following options on their resumes, CVs, and other communications:
- Hartford Seminary
- Hartford Seminary (now Hartford International University for Religion and Peace)
- Hartford Seminary (now Hartford International University)
- Hartford International University for Religion and Peace
- Hartford International University
- Hartford International University for Religion and Peace (formerly Hartford Seminary)
- Hartford International University (formerly Hartford Seminary)
Will campus signage change?
Yes, campus wayfinding signage will change, as will all signage in and on our campus buildings.
Will the board of trustees or executive structure change?
No, our administrative leadership structure will continue as it currently exists.
Did alumni and students have an opportunity to “vote” on the change?
Over the past few years, we have solicited feedback from all stakeholders – students, faculty, staff, alumni – on both the direction of our strategic planning effort, Strategic Plan 2020, and the possibility of a name change. The Board of Trustees carefully reviewed the feedback and took the feelings and opinions of our constituents to heart as they came to a final decision.
Will the seminary becoming a university change its relationship with alumni who are ministers or religious professionals working for religious communities?
We hope that our bonds remain strong and increase. In fact, we see the name change as an opportunity to increase our capacity to provide resources to religious communities and to expand into education for non-religious organizations. As we live into our new identity as a university, we believe we will have a greater capacity of resources for religious professionals and religious communities. New Name. Bigger Mission. Same Commitment.