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UConn Advance

Mission of regional campuses outlined
By Thomas Becher
May 2, 1997

The University's regional campuses are poised to offer more programs and improve access for students across Connecticut who cannot come to Storrs for financial or family reasons.

Under a mission statement on the role of the regional campuses endorsed by the Board of Trustees April 11, the five campuses - Avery Point, Greater Hartford, Stamford, Torrington and Waterbury - will become more integrated with the Storrs campus by providing selected four-year degree programs and courses that will enable students to finish their UConn education close to home.

"This is an evolutionary change that will refocus the role of the regionals and integrate them more fully into the University as a whole," Mark Emmert, chancellor and provost for University affairs, told trustees. "The idea here is not to recreate Storrs, but to focus on the unique needs of each area."

Students will be able to complete degrees in limited areas - for instance, business and information technology at the new downtown Stamford campus, and marine sciences at Avery Point - and tackle selected four-year, upper-division programs and majors. That's in addition to offering courses for the first two years of a bachelor's degree and the four-year Bachelor of General Studies.

The mission statement, prepared by the Strategic Planning Task Force on Regional Campuses, aims to better weave the regional campuses into the fabric of the University and develop additional cooperation and collaboration between the main and regional campuses.

According to the statement, the five regional campuses will evolve during the next 10 years to:

  • Provide local access to the University's degree programs and services for highly motivated, intelligent, traditional and non-traditional students who, because of life or financial obligations, are bound to one area of the state. These students attend regional campuses as their first and perhaps only UConn choice.

  • Offer primarily upper-division instruction, providing area-bound students the opportunity to complete bachelor's degrees in a limited number of programs close to home.

  • Provide lower-division offerings necessary to complete bachelor's degree programs and to provide sufficient background for those students who must complete degree programs offered only in Storrs.

  • Serve as an entry point for access to the University for qualified students with limited economic resources.

  • Provide local communities with outreach programs to address the educational needs of residents and work with local leaders on projects.

  • Provide communities with high-quality and rigorous instructional programs. Degrees conferred to students matriculating at the regional campuses will be those of the institution as a whole. Students will be admitted according to a common entrance standard and similar scholastic standards. Similarly, faculty at regional campuses will be regular University faculty.

  • Integrate programs at regional campuses with all offerings of the University. Regional campuses will take full advantage of articulation and cooperative agreements with community-technical colleges and be as coordinated as possible with the programs of the state university system. Programs will be funded within the regional campuses, augmented from the central administration or generated by regional campus activities.

  • Share fairly in the resources of the institution according to a common resource allocation policy and act in common for the benefit of the entire University.

Politically savvy
Adriane Lyon, director of the Torrington campus, said the mission statement is politically savvy because it shows legislators and the public that all campuses can become full-service education centers and not just adjuncts in far-off places. And that will help when budget debates come along again.

"A number of the characteristics of this statement already apply to the Torrington campus," Lyon said. "We are 'area bound' up to our eyeballs. We've seen amazing growth in non-traditional students in the past decade. The sense of who we have been becoming fits with this role."

Enabling regional campuses to offer more degree-fulfilling programs would make Torrington and other campuses more competitive with the state university system, she said.

"It's a tremendous recruitment tool for the area-bound people in Litchfield County to afford to be able to complete a UConn degree," Lyon said. "It will no longer force them out of the UConn system."

Arnold Orza, interim director of the Greater Hartford campus in West Hartford, said the arrangement will make it easier to get a UConn education. His campus, for instance, will work with Torrington and Waterbury to help students get the courses they need.

"Hartford's role is further enriched - or complicated - by its becoming the anchor campus in a tri-campus arrangement with Waterbury and Torrington, in a more fully integrated single unit in which people could complete their degrees by taking specifically selected four-year programs at all three places," he said.

Doing so enables students to complete their degrees without incurring excessive expenses, Orza added. Tuition and fees will be the same as Storrs, but students who need to live at home can save on housing costs.

The regional campus mission strikes at the heart of access, something President Philip E. Austin mentioned repeatedly in his inaugural address, Lyon added.

"I'm very proud the University is looking broadly across the state. We must look at excellence and access," she said. "We're providing access like never before."

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