Analyze any successful city, and you will discover that one essential element of its strength is a substantial middle class -- people whose educational levels and financial resources enable them to build businesses, volunteer for the community good and participate in the arts.

The key to elevating and attracting this population is quality education. There is no more powerful instrument for ensuring the future of our city than strong educational institutions working together to provide the best education for our children.

Much of what we need is already in place. Greater Hartford is home to more than a half-dozen colleges and universities, many of which have already formed partnerships with Hartford schools, and there is a desire in all quarters to improve the city's public education.

My vision for our future includes expanded linkages among all these elements to create an environment in which the needs of business, the medical community, the arts, neighborhoods and families are met through collaborations that make Hartford a center for learning and living.

James F. Jones Jr. is president of Trinity College and Trinity College professor in the humanities.

VISITING IN 2020

By PAMELA TROTMAN REID

As I look into the future of downtown Hartford, I see people picnicking in Bushnell Park while children enjoy the carousel and playground. Tourists are clicking photos of the historic sites and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art's new wing. Professionals are shopping at the Farmers Market in Traveler's Square. And folks are browsing kiosks that line the park, hoping to get a bargain on Hartford memorabilia.

Students from Saint Joseph College School of Pharmacy hurry back to class after their lunch break. Other students head off to the new downtown mall. In the mall a thriving wellness center provides affordable health services.

Hartford in 2020 has met the challenge of providing housing for these budding professionals. Residential areas have attracted people to live and work in the city. The mayor of Hartford has emulated the successes of Chicago and other urban areas by creating a welcome environment for all.

Imagine the excitement when the Hartford Consortium for Higher Education receives a gift from the city -- a vacant lot on which to build a residence hall. The governor, who wants to encourage this public-private partnership, matched the city's gift with a bond to launch a project bringing Saint Joe's and other universities together to build housing for students and faculty -- creating the synergy for retail and other activities to follow.

Hartford, our capital, has become an urban campus, a vibrant metropolis and a destination for citizens as it moves into the future with confidence and positive energy.

Pamela Trotman Reid is president of Saint Joseph College.