From Middlesex to the State Legislature: Representative Joseph C. Serra

As a longtime public servant and lifelong Middletown resident, State Representative Joseph C. Serra has positively impacted the lives of many local citizens. But did you know he also was instrumental in the early history of Middlesex Community College?

In the late 1960s, Joe was working for the Department of Public Works in the city of Middletown when he enrolled at Middlesex Community College. The college was in its infancy and holding classes at Wilson High School on Hunting Hill Road. Since Middlesex was nearby, Joe found the convenience of attending classes in the evenings after work to be the best solution for him. He didn’t have to commute 30 miles or more to take college courses.

During his time at Middlesex, the College moved to another temporary location at the Connecticut Valley Hospital and plans were soon underway to find a permanent campus within the city. Since Joe worked in public works, he was familiar with the sites in Middletown and collaborated with former Dean Bradley Biggs to find suitable land to build the new campus. Joe said former Middlesex President Philip Wheaton had considered two properties, not far from each other, before settling on what is now the current location on Training Hill Road.

The land negotiations occurred before Joe completed his degree at Middlesex in 1970, though construction of the campus buildings began a few years later. Joe then went on to earn a bachelor of science in public administration from the University of Hartford in 1975. In those days, transferring to four-year school was not as seamless as it is today, but Hartford was the only school offering the public administration program he wanted.

While Joe was attending classes at the University of Hartford, he also took a graduate economics course because the public administration program curriculum was not yet finalized. In a 2011 radio interview with former Middlesex Interim President Jonathan Daube, Joe recalled a time when he was the only person in that class to answer a question correctly, and attributed his preparation to former professor John Makrogianis.

In 1979, Joe was appointed the deputy director of public works for the city and held that position until he retired in 1996. By 1992, he was elected to represent the 33rd District in the General Assembly, located within Middletown, and has been serving in that role ever since.

Joe is currently co-chair of the legislature’s Aging Committee and also serves on the Judiciary and Transportation committees.

“Middlesex provided me with the convenient opportunity to go to classes in the evenings after work. This would not have been possible if the College was not right here in Middletown,” said Joe. “I know graduates have gone on to Wesleyan, UConn, and NYU. Middlesex is an excellent school.”

Written by Thea Moritz in 2o18

Update: Joe Serra retired from office in 2021 and received the MxCC Foundation Distinguish Alumni Award that year.