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Bi-partisan group backs proposals
to enhance regional campuses

February 22, 1999

Saying an oft-discussed proposal to enhance UConn's regional campus system is a win-win strategy for Connecticut, a bi-partisan group of state legislators, including Democratic and Republican leaders, on Thursday urged the commissioner of the Department of Higher Education to support a plan he had dismissed in January.

"Our regional campuses offer the best resource to improve access to higher education for those who otherwise may not be able to afford college," said House Speaker Moira Lyons (D-Stamford). "It would be a step backward not to provide four-year degree programs at these locations."

The letter, delivered Thursday to Andrew DeRocco, commissioner of the Department of Higher Education, was signed by six legislative leaders and 14 legislators whose districts include or border one or more of UConn's five regional campuses.

The list included Lyons, Senate Majority Leader George Jepson (D-Stamford), Senate Minority Leader Adela Eads (R-Kent), Sen. Thomas Gaffey (D-Meriden) and Rep. Cameron Staples (D-New Haven), co-chairs of the Education Committee, and Rep. Joan Hartley (D-Waterbury), speaker pro tempore of the House of Representatives.

On January 20, DeRocco made a series of recommendations to the Board of Governors for Higher Education that were critical of UConn's plans for the regional campuses. He suggested the campuses' growth be limited, rather than expanded to embrace or continue a limited number of four-year, degree-granting programs that take advantage of the campuses strengths and specialties, primarily in disciplines closely linked to the area's business and development needs, as UConn officials had recommended.

The UConn proposal calls for continuing to build the Stamford campus's focus on business studies, including graduate and information technology-based programs; expanding marine sciences programs at Avery Point, where a UConn 2000-funded Marine Sciences Institute is under construction; and implementing the Tri-Campus Initiative, a plan to share some services among the Hartford, Torrington and Waterbury campuses, and offer degree-granting undergraduate programs to meet the needs of site-bound students.

In their letter to DeRocco, the 20 legislators made it clear they embrace UConn's plan.

"The unique and expanded programs to be offered by (the) regional campuses are currently not offered by the Connecticut State University system. The UConn enhancement proposal would provide new career options for prospective students as well as opportunities for them to take part in Connecticut's renewed economic prosperity," they said.

"The proposal represents a win-win strategy for Connecticut. The UConn regional enhancement proposal is creative, focused, targeted and workable. It makes sense for our state," the letter continued. "More opportunities for an educated workforce will only serve to make Connecticut more attractive, livable and prosperous."

Richard Veilleux