Hartford -- The University of Bridgeport Wednesday won five-year reaccreditation from a unanimous state Board of Governors for Higher Education.
The board also voted to accredit UB's online bachelor's degree program in dental hygiene, and to license a doctoral program in computer science and engineering at UB.
University President Neil Salonen assured the board that there has been a "sea change" on campus since the state's last visit. Enrollment is up. Private donations, particularly among alumni, are up. And red ink has finally turned to black.
"We have a balanced budget and we're proud of it. We still have a number of tasks ahead of us," he said. "It's completely different from what it was."
Board member William A. Bevacqua of Trumbull said he is pleased the university has been able to wean itself from the Professors World Peace Academy, which gets its money from the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church.
"I was very much concerned about it. There were some suggestions that there would be an attempt to influence curriculum and student mindset at the time. That obviously never materialized," he said.
Bevacqua said Salonen has done an admirable job to restore UB to its former prominence and go in new directions with programs such as chiropractic and naturopathic medicine.
Bevacqua said he's also pleased that UB is gaining support in the Bridgeport-area community. He cited former People's Bank President David A.E. Carson's recent matching-gift challenge as an example.
Both the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and Connecticut's Board of Governors of Higher Education want UB to supply a financial and enrollment report by Dec. 15, outlining enrollment projects, donor support and plans to generate revenue by selling unused campus buildings.
By the spring of 2007, UB is asked to submit a report that details the university's financial stability, relationship to the Professors World Peace Academy and its debt and related convenants.
"We just want them to corroborate what they say they're doing," said Jonas Zdanys, an associate commissioner of higher education.
"It looks a whole lot better than it used to," added Commissioner of Higher Education Valerie Lewis.
The license UB received to start a doctoral program in computer sciences and engineering would make it the third in the state to offer such a program. Currently, such Ph.D. programs are offered only at Yale and the University of Connecticut in Storrs.
UB officials say the program would build on its existing bachelor's and master's degree programs in computer science and engineering that in 2003enrolled 450 students.
The program would enroll up to five full-time and four part-time students in the first year and as many as 25 full- and part-time students by its third year.
The accreditation of the online bachelor's-degree program in dental hygiene would solidify a program UB has offered for two years.
Meg Zayan, director of the program, said only 16 percent of dental hygiene students go beyond the required associate's degree. More would stay on for a bachelor's degree, putting them in line for jobs in management or teaching, if it were more convenient.
The online program would be offered worldwide and would not require students to set foot on campus.
The state board's unanimous approval follows the 10-year reaccreditation UB received recently from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.