A Name Change Not Taken Lightly

hartford seminary new name

In one form or another, Hartford Seminary has been around for 187 years. While the campus has been in five different locations, and though we actually began as the Theological Institute of Connecticut, for most of our existence the words “Hartford” and “Seminary” have been part of our name.

We now stand on the cusp of a new era, and a new name has been chosen to move us forward. What does that mean? Well, just about everything.

The names of educational institutions aren’t easy to change. Students and alumni are attached to them for good reason, and every official document, every invoice, every mailing label, every email, every T-shirt, and every sign on every building bears the name. The name, in many ways, is the institution.

So why would an institution as old and venerated as this one choose to change its name? Four main reasons have been at the forefront of our discussions: 

  • Staying the same when the world is changing rapidly around you is not an option. Theological education is not what it was in 1834, when we opened our doors. Nor is it the same as when this institution allowed women to study on the same terms as men, the first in the country, in 1889. What we encounter today is a rapidly changing landscape for religion and for higher education. As we engage an interconnected society with students from around the world, our mission to bolster interreligious understanding is increasingly a global one. Our name must reflect that reality.
  • Two years ago, as part of a strategic planning process, we started examining our institutional structure – everything from programs and courses to facilities and staffing. As part of that process, the name Hartford Seminary came up over and over again, almost like a broken record. We had to ask ourselves, does the word “seminary” stop some people from learning about what we do? Does it connect with an international audience? Does it confuse people who think we only train Christian priests and clergy, as most seminaries do? Ultimately, we decided that a new name was the best option to move us forward.
  • Renewed energy and excitement surround a new name and logo. It’s an opportunity to introduce ourselves to people who never knew us and to remind people who may have forgotten we exist that we’re here doing important and life-changing work. It’s a chance to rally our community around an exciting new vision and an expanded reach. 
  • A new name comes with a new logo, in our case the pictured ascending dove. After decades of using our modern building in our logo, this colorful new creation has a different message. It’s aspirational and contemporary, confident and hopeful, and it uses bold colors inspired by flags around the world. 

So what is the new name and what does the new logo represent? Find out on October 13, 2021, as we livestream the announcement on our Facebook page!

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