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Connecticut and UConn - a critical partnership
February 8, 1999

Chancellor Mark Emmert
Chancellor Mark Emmert

The University of Connecticut is, by design, in partnership with the citizens of Connecticut. As the state's flagship university, we have a fundamental obligation to provide education of the first order and to advance the frontiers of knowledge. But also, we have a responsibility to promote the economic, social, and cultural development of our state - to be engaged partners in advancing our society. In the tradition of our land-grant heritage, we must make the intellectual resources of the University available to industry, to government, and to the broader citizenry, to assist in solving the very real problems of our day.

UConn, of course, has been partners with Connecticut since its founding as the Storrs Agricultural College in 1881 and the University has reached out continuously to the state throughout its 118-year history. Today every school and college of the University provides crucial educational services, applied research, and outreach to our citizens. As we enter the next millennium, it is essential that we renew our commitment to this partnership and focus our efforts so as to serve society in the most effective way we can.

While space constraints do not allow me to catalog all the exciting new initiatives, let me point to several programs which demonstrate the continuing power and impact of our partnership with Connecticut.

Bringing industry and University researchers together to create new technologies, products, and processes is critical to ensuring Connecticut's economic vitality. The Critical Technologies Program is building these dynamic partnerships. Funded by the Connecticut General Assembly and administered by Connecticut Innovations Inc., this program utilizes the applied research strengths of the University. Companies combine their resources with Critical Technologies funds and the University's expertise and research facilities.

The Critical Technologies Program is increasing the rate of technological innovation in Connecticut, transferring this technology to the private sector, creating new jobs, and diversifying the state's tax base. Faculty members in engineering, liberal arts and sciences, agriculture and natural resources, pharmacy, and at the Health Center are contributing to this dynamic program. Through its projects in advanced materials, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, environmental research and technology, marine science and technology, drug design, biomedical imaging, and photonics, the Critical Technologies Program is an exciting catalyst, helping businesses achieve their full potential and strengthening the Connecticut economy.

In similar fashion, the recently created Connecticut Information Technology Institute, based at the Stamford campus, is beginning to bring the University into another strategic partnership with business. The relocation of the Stamford campus downtown provided a unique opportunity for the University to help address the shortage of qualified information technology professionals. Across nearly all sectors of the economy the need for talented employees who can provide a variety of information technology services is enormous.

Through CITI, the University will be providing a combination of formal degree programs, specialized credit and non-credit offerings, and applied research efforts within information technology fields. This multi-disciplinary effort will offer vital educational services to business.

The School of Education has entered into a partnership with United Technologies Corp. and the Hartford Public Schools in the Hartford Professional Development Academy, whose purpose is to bring computer technology into Hartford classrooms by providing meaningful and sustained professional development for teachers and administrators. The initiative, in which the state Department of Education and the Capitol Region Education Council are also participating, is responsive to the state commissioner of education's recommendations for improving performance in Hartford schools and is an extension of the School of Education's longstanding involvement with these schools. Like all sound partnerships, this project was developed with the active involvement of Hartford teachers and administrators and will bring together the skills, resources, and commitment needed to solve a significant real-world problem.

These three programs provide an excellent demonstration of the University's commitment to serving Connecticut. When viewed together with the enormous array of outreach efforts provided by our faculty, staff, and students, they are proof that the University's impact is simply enormous. The lives of Connecticut's citizens are touched daily through a multiplicity of University programs. Whether it is advancing cultural development through the Connecticut Repertory Theatre, providing objective opinion data to decision-makers through the Institute for Social Inquiry or the Roper Center, offering direct educational services through the many efforts of the Cooperative Extension offices of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, helping reduce gang violence through the programmatic contributions of the School of Social Work, or through any other of our programs, the University of Connecticut is a hard-working partner with the state.

As we continue our march toward national distinction, we need to keep in mind the University's essential role in economic, social, and cultural development. UConn must stand ready to serve and to join in this critical partnership with Connecticut.