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Alum's new book a rich source
for history of Waterbury campus
(March 30, 1999)

Academic, athletic, and political life at a regional campus during the past 50 years come into focus in a new book about the Waterbury campus by Adam Korpalski.

A History of the University of Connecticut at Waterbury, 1946-1996, (Brandywine Corp., 1998) is an eclectic compilation of articles from area newspapers, campus newspapers and newsletters. The collection includes articles that cover everything from a review of a student production of Antigone, to articles about the struggle to keep the campus open in Waterbury, and coverage of Vietnam War protests.

Instead of writing a history, Korpalski lets the collection of articles from various sources and the voices in them do the talking. "It is closer to the truth this way because the reader decides what happened," says Korpalski, a UConn alumnus who taught English at Nonnewaug High School for many years and also served as an adjunct professor at the Waterbury campus.

An article from a 1953 edition of The Waterbury Republican, for example, reveals the dedication of the community to their local University. The article reports that the Chase Parent Teacher Association in Waterbury voted to pledge $100, to be raised by a cake sale, to help with the renovation of the Sallie Smith homestead, a building purchased by the City of Waterbury for use as the permanent site of the recently established Waterbury campus.

On the athletic front, the book includes a 1962 article from The Waterbury Republican reporting that the UConn Waterbury basketball team "whipped" St. Thomas Seminary 56-40.

In December 1967, The Waterbury American reported that an Italian nobleman, Count Carlo Jahn-Rusconi, had arrived from Florence to launch Italian classes at the Waterbury campus.

Referring to the people who have worked for, supported, and attended UConn Waterbury, Korpalski says, "essentially, it is their contributions that made the book possible."

The concept of the book began in 1988 when Korpalski was approached by the director of the Waterbury campus at the time, Alphonse Avitabile. Avitabile wanted to celebrate the school's history, and Korpalski had previously produced a history of the Gunnery, a private school in Washington, Conn.

It took Korpalski more than a year to compile the collection. The project was put on hold, however, when Avitabile retired in 1989. When the Waterbury campus celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1996, Korpalski pulled the project out of his file cabinet. Korpalski, who has continued to be involved with the University since he graduated in1957, describes the book as "a labor of love."

A History of the University of Connecticut at Waterbury, 1946-1996, is available in Connecticut bookstores, including the UConn Co-op, or directly from the publisher, Brandywine Corp., 1854 Baldwin Street, Waterbury, CT 06706.

Joseph Holstead