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Professional schools improve state
November 9, 1998

On many occasions, I have discussed the University's strategic objectives, objectives that are essential to achieving national academic distinction. These include:

  1. the provision of an exceptional undergraduate educational experience,

  2. highly competitive research agendas and Ph.D. education built upon selective excellence,

  3. nationally distinguished professional schools that offer education and research closely aligned with the real world needs of their professions,

  4. nterdisciplinary research addressing the technologies critical to the development of Connecticut and the nation, and

  5. the creation of an academic environment that is welcoming to, and supportive of, our diverse citizenry.

In this column, I would like to address the third of these objectives, nationally distinguished professional schools.

Mark Emmert
Chancellor Mark Emmert

The academic heart of any university lies within the liberal arts and sciences. Indeed, without superb programs in the arts and sciences, the University of Connecticut would not be a university at all, but rather a polytechnic institute.

But while the great majority of our students study within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, we must also be cognizant of our charge as a comprehensive institution. The citizens of Connecticut look to us, as the state's only research university, for professional education. As well as providing a talented work force, business and industry turn to us for research assistance and continuing education relevant to their particular needs. At both the undergraduate and graduate levels we educate the professional leaders of tomorrow. It is essential that we do so as effectively as possible and that our professional schools be acknowledged as national leaders themselves.

In order to serve the shared interests of the citizenry and the academy, our professional schools must advance both scholarship and graduate education of value to their academic fields and make certain their work is closely tied to practicing professionals, staying at the forefront of these dynamic fields.

Professional instruction must prepare our students to become leaders within their chosen fields and it must serve to bridge the gap between the university and the work-a-day world, through internships and "real-world" experiences. Practicing professionals must see that our educational programs reflect academic rigor, state-of-the-art practice, and innovative instruction so that they have confidence that our graduates are as well educated as any. Adding to their challenges, our professional schools must continue to provide research and scholarship that is valued in the field of practice as well as in the academic forum.

Over the past few years, we have taken specific actions to build a number of professional school programs, particularly in areas where we have confidence that significant progress can be made in the very near term and where modest investments can be leveraged against UConn 2000 funds and private gifts. Given the finite nature of resources, financial commitments have had to be focused and sequential. Moreover, such commitments have been made in part with the expectation that program growth will generate new revenue, revenue that will then become available for reinvestment in other schools and colleges.

For example, the School of Business Administration has received reallocated funds for the implementation of a new state-mandated master's degree in accounting, the expansion of the undergraduate program in management information systems, and the initiation of an undergraduate business major at the Stamford campus (assuming approval by the state Department of Higher Education). All three programs will advance the goals of the school, address significant professional needs, and generate new tuition revenue. When combined with the business school's new building, for which construction will begin this spring, and with the central role the school will play in the forthcoming capital campaign, there are near-term opportunities for substantial enhancement of the school's already solid academic standing.

The School of Pharmacy has been confronted with the need to create the Doctor of Pharmacy degree in order to provide the best possible professional education. The lack of such a degree denied our students access to the strongest degree program in the profession and would shortly have become a handicap in the professional world. When combined with the UConn 2000 commitment for a new building in phase two of construction, the investments made to create the Doctor of Pharmacy program and ensure continued growth in research programs will allow the school to grow in stature and importance to the field of pharmacy. Also, academic program growth will generate increased revenues that can, in turn, support other colleges and schools.

In a similar fashion, modest investments have been matched with commitments from the faculty and staff within the School of Law. While already enjoying an excellent reputation, the law school is focusing its attention and adding a limited number of faculty and staff in support of these programs. The recently completed law library and the substantial opportunities for fund raising also add to the promise of an increasingly distinguished School of Law.

While we still have much to do within all our schools and colleges, these three examples indicate how we can advance the University through the thoughtful use of existing resources, the addition of new funds from various sources, and the good work of many faculty and staff.