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Fall events make for memorable semester
December 15, 1997
As semesters go, fall 1997 has been quite a year.
Dozens of new professors took their places across campus. A new parking system and much-improved shuttle service, developed in anticipation of center campus becoming a pedestrian-only hub, possibly within 12-18 months, was announced, fine tuned, and accepted. Major initiatives were announced regarding how resources are allocated and how the Waterbury, Torrington and Hartford campuses could better reach the residents of those areas, who would like to see four-year degrees offered at those sites.
"The tremendous amount of construction progress being made is a daily reminder of the public commitment to enhancing the University and its infrastructure," says President Philip E. Austin.
Gov. John G. Rowland visited campus in late September to announce the release of more than $10 million in non-UConn 2000 bonding money for renovations and additions to the School of Fine Arts and for construction of a new warehouse. And the state legislature in special session in October adopted a bill that gives military recruiters access to campus, allowing the University to escape a dilemma created by competing state and federal laws that could have cost UConn more than $50 million in federal funding.
Another special session, to decide whether funding should be made available to build a new football stadium, was called, then canceled when legislative support for the initiative crumbled.
The retirement plan, which claimed 380 UConn employees, including 115 faculty, allowed administrators to expand the diversity of the staff and focus resources in areas identified as priorities in the strategic plan. Both Austin and Chancellor Mark Emmert vow that UConn's hiring record will continue pushing forward on those fronts.
"Not only have we squeezed a whole year or two into one semester, it has been a dramatic year or two," says Emmert."There have been so many physical changes, we completed the long-awaited debate on I-A football, we brought in an exciting new group of faculty, we worked through the process of the early retirement initiative, we nearly concluded the master plan ... any one of these would be a year's worth of work on its own."
Roger A. Gelfenbien, a partner with Andersen Consulting and father of Jill, class of 1996 and women's basketball and soccer player, became chair of the Board of Trustees.
This year's women's soccer team gave the community a thrill, advancing to the NCAA finals before bowing to the University of North Carolina. The field hockey team also moved into the NCAA tournament, and the men's soccer and football teams narrowly missed berths. The men's and women's basketball teams began their seasons with strings of victories.
In the first year of the state's matching gift program, a piece of the UConn 2000 legislation, members of the Institutional Advancement team pulled in a record $20 million in less than the two years authorized in the legislation. And, since the July renewal of the program, based on a 1:2 state match, another $1 million has already been pledged.
There was more.
Also during the past 14 weeks:
During the semester, says Austin, "There were a lot of changes, enormous ups and one or two downs. That is all to be expected in an institution in the midst of profound transformation."
The spring semester, which begins January 21, 1998, promises to be no less exciting, starting from Day One, which will be a very special day, particularly in Stamford, when the University's new downtown campus formally opens, and another year begins.