Chandler Howard
Chandler J. Howard

Chandler J. Howard
(’97 M.S. Management)

President and CEO
Liberty Bank

Chandler Howard is widely regarded as one of the state’s top banking executives. A Connecticut native, his banking career started before his post-secondary education, as a part-time teller when he returned home from service in Vietnam. He built his family, and career, as he continued his education, first at Housatonic Community College, then the University of Connecticut, and ultimately earned his Master’s Degree in Management at Rensselaer at Hartford.

Before coming to Liberty Bank, Mr. Howard was the president of First City Fund Corporation, responsible for the development of New Haven’s new Community Development Bank. In 2006 he served as President and CEO of Connecticut Innovations, a quasi-public company providing equity investments in start-up companies. Prior to Connecticut Innovations, he served as the president of Bank of America-Connecticut, and was Chairman and CEO, and past president of Fleet Bank-Connecticut.

Growing up as one of seven children in a housing project outside of Bridgeport, Mr. Howard only imagined the possibility of achieving an advanced degree. “Just the idea that I would ever be in the position to have that kind of education was an aspiration at best,” he recalled. “For me, getting my Master’s from Rensselaer was really a dream come true.” He chose Rensselaer because of its excellent reputation and convenient Hartford location.

Mr. Howard credits not only his degree, but the interpersonal experiences at Rensselaer, for the success he has achieved in his career. “The quality of instruction was excellent, but more important was the great dialogue between the students.” He pursued his degree at Rensselaer with a variety of students, with backgrounds ranging from, manufacturing, insurance, finance, and aerospace, and believes that the understanding he gained of those varied fields was instrumental to his own learning.

One professor in particular stands out in Mr. Howard’s memories of his days at Rensselaer. “Dick Hamlin was very good at getting technical information across and making sure we grasped it, but he was really a terrific facilitator of discussion among the people in the class,” he said. The two remained in contact after Mr. Howard completed his Master’s Degree.

To this day, Mr. Howard believes that fostering dialogue between professionals is a key to business growth in the state of Connecticut. He recently hosted a roundtable discussion among banking executives with Senator Christopher Dodd after the February meeting of the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce. “I believe that getting input from various points of view is essential in making good decisions, whether those decisions are about banking or pending legislation.”

A past commencement speaker at Rensselaer, Mr. Howard was delighted at the response he received from graduates to his story about struggling through a statistics class and that the class proved valuable to him as he rose through senior management at Fleet Bank. “Their laughter reinforced that they understood what I meant,” he remembers.

Mr. Howard shares Liberty Bank’s commitment to education. He is the immediate past chairman of Connecticut’s Charter Oak State College and served on the Governor’s Task Force on the Future of the Regional Vocational-Technical High School System. He is President of the Liberty Bank Foundation, and has provided direct support for Liberty’s ongoing tradition of awarding a variety of continuing education scholarships.

His advice to working professionals seeking that advanced degree? “Give it the ‘old college try,’ and know that those last couple of courses will be tough to complete, but the satisfaction in the end is something you’ll never forget.”

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Updated: 2016-05-16, 15:32