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Northeast Utilities endows chair
in environmental engineering
March 8, 1999

Thanks to a donation from Northeast Utilities, the School of Engineering soon will launch a new campaign to enhance environmental education and encourage Connecticut students to pursue careers in environmental engineering.

With Northeast Utilities' support, the University will recruit an internationally recognized faculty member to conduct advanced research and development in the area of environmental engineering. The endowed chair also will focus on under- graduate and graduate-level education and training.

The Northeast Utilities commitment - combined with additional funds from the state's endowment matching grant program and monies drawn from the existing Al Geib Endowment in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering - will enable the School of Engineering to establish the Northeast Utilities Founda- tion Chair with a $1 million endowment.

"Environmental challenges are among the most serious facing the world today," said Michael G. Morris, president, chairman and chief executive officer of Northeast Utilities. "Environmental engineering and science will continue to grow and be an important field of study for our state and the nation."

President Philip E. Austin said the Northeast Utilities donation is symbolic of the partnership the University is developing with Connecticut's business community. "As the state's flagship university," he said, "our primary mission is to provide an excellent education. A secondary but profoundly important mission is to enhance the economic development and quality of life in the state. The creation of the Northeast Utilities Foundation Chair will be of significant value in helping us meet our education and service goals."

Dennis Welch, Northeast Utilities vice president of environmental safety and health, will serve on the selection committee charged with identifying a suitable candidate.

The holder of the Northeast Utilities Foundation Chair will conduct advanced research in the field of environmental engineering, while training graduate and undergraduate students as research assistants.

"Northeast Utilities is proud to be a leading sponsor of UConn's exciting mission to advance and champion an era of environmental awareness," said Hugh C. MacKenzie, president of the Northeast Utilities Retail Business Group. "This chair will help identify significant new opportunities in the public and private sectors, and take the lead in creating a strong research program to address them."

The Northeast Utilities Foundation Chair holder also will be responsible for coordinating the Northeast Utilities Foundation Distinguished Seminar Series, which is aimed at attracting well known researchers in the field of education.

In addition, the individual appointed will be responsible for recruiting talented high school students from across the state to participate in week-long summer workshops on environmental issues. These students will be called Northeast Utilities Foundation Junior Fellows.

Amir Faghri, dean of the School of Engineering, said "We are pleased Northeast Utilities has joined us as a partner and leading industrial sponsor of the school's exciting transformation and ambitious mission to advance as a champion of the environmental awareness era in the state of Connecticut. This generous gift will enable the School of Engineering to excite an early interest among Connecticut high school students in environmental studies, careers, and related technologies."

With strong interdisciplinary activity underway in environmental engineering, the School of Engineering is well positioned to take advantage of the potential growth in new initiatives related to environmental research and technology within Connecticut and the nation. The school currently offers M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in environmental engineering. Beginning in fall 1999, UConn will be the only public university in New England to offer a B.S. degree in environmental engineering.

During the last few years, UConn has achieved national recognition in environmental engineering, attracting a number of outstanding students. Faculty from both the chemical engineering and civil engineering departments conduct innovative environmental research and have garnered international praise and recognition for their work.