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Chancellor Emmert's many outstanding achievements at the University will make him a tough act to follow
(April 26, 1999)

n about two months, one of the most valuable members of our administrative team will bid farewell to the University of Connecticut and, with his family, take up a new and challenging position down South.

President Austin
Philip E. Austin

Those of us who have been privileged to work with Mark Emmert as a colleague and come to know Mark and Delaine as friends are experiencing the mixture of emotions that come to the fore at such a time: delight that Mark has the opportunity to move into a post as chancellor at Louisiana State University that will allow him to use his talents to the fullest, sorrow that the Emmerts will be leaving the UConn community, and gratitude for Mark's many contributions to the University of Connecticut at a critical moment in our history.

Mark came to UConn from Montana State University early in 1995, and his arrival coincided with the start of a period of major change. The Board of Trustees had just approved a strategic plan, appropriately entitled Beyond 2000: Change. In June 1995, the General Assembly passed and the Governor signed Public Act 95-230, "An Act to Enhance the Infrastructure of the University of Connecticut" - and UConn 2000 was on its way.

As the chief operating officer responsible for the Storrs-based programs of the University, Mark found himself in a position to help guide an institution embarked on profound and positive change.

Anyone familiar with higher education knows that universities tend to be inordinately complex structures, replete with committees and task forces and traditions of management by consensus. For such entities to function at all, let alone to undergo significant transformation, they must be led by a team whose members possess a combination of vision, ability to communicate, willingness to listen and capacity to bring people together.

In the many areas in which he held responsibility over the past four years, Mark met that test and helped the University's progress enormously. A few key examples:

  • A careful analysis of the academic program was - and is - essential to the development of clear objectives and the rational allocation of resources. As chancellor and provost for university affairs, Mark led the way in designing and guiding a rigorous process of program assessment. This is never an easy process, nor is it a painless one. But for an institution intent on marshaling its resources to attain excellence in all areas central to its mission, it is essential.

  • The implementation of UConn 2000 gives the University the opportunity not just to construct attractive new buildings, but to create in Storrs a coherent, technologically advanced new campus that sets a standard for public universities across the nation. Mark has played a key role in establishing a master planning process, overseeing a construction program of inordinate size and complexity, and assuring that UConn 2000's objectives are met within the budget and schedule set for us.

  • A major challenge at UConn, as at any research university, is to maintain a set of academic and nonacademic services that meet the needs of students at all undergraduate and graduate levels, and from a variety of backgrounds. As chancellor, Mark has guided a team of faculty and student affairs professionals whose goal is to develop a living and learning environment unmatched in the region - or nationally. The success of that effort is evidenced in a significant increase in student applications, coupled with a major increase in diversity and in the academic strength of those who choose - often from a number of competing options - to obtain their college education here.

Any one of these achievements would be impressive in itself. Taken together and combined with his other contributions, they represent a very substantial record of achievement of which Mark has every right to be proud.

More important, they create a foundation for all of us to build on in the years ahead. We will begin shortly the process of recruiting a new chancellor to maintain our progress in the full range of programs that fall within his or her portfolio - from Phase II of UConn 2000, to program assessment, to undergraduate and graduate instruction, to support for our faculty's capacity to conduct first-class basic and applied research.

I am confident that our reputation will enable us to attract an outstanding individual. But I know, as every member of the UConn community knows, that whoever we appoint as chancellor will have a tough act to follow.