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  August 27, 2001

President's Column
The challenge facing us this year is to maintain momentum. We can achieve this by adopting and actively pursuing five key goals.

Welcome back! Let me extend a special welcome to the new faculty and staff and more than 3,000 new students who are joining us this fall.

Over the course of the academic year we will have a number of discussions about the major issues before UConn, and in the next few weeks I plan to present a detailed outline of what I see as our primary challenges and opportunities.

Image: President Philip E. Austin
President Philip E. Austin

For the moment, let me say that while we face our share of day-to-day difficulties - not least of which is navigating a campus with so many major construction projects - UConn begins the 2001-02 academic year academically strong, administratively stable, possessed of an exceptional faculty and a talented, diverse student body.

As has been the case since the late 1990s, the underlying challenge is to maintain momentum on multiple fronts: completion of UConn 2000 and other building programs; continued progress at the Health Center in the achievement of fiscal stability, while maintaining an absolute commitment to excellence in research, teaching, and clinical care; ongoing success in private fundraising as we move toward Campaign UConn's $300 million goal; development of a responsive, rigorous and well-constructed curriculum, with appropriate academic support services for a wide array of students; strengthening our capacity to conduct, administer and secure funding for internationally recognized scholarship and research; working with our neighbors to create a lively, appealing college town in Storrs; and assuring adequate resources - physical, academic, and support - to serve growing numbers of students.

This is just a partial list but it suggests the scope of our concerns and the pace of our progress.

Yet the beginning of the academic year is a time not just for broad visions, but programmatic specifics. I want to take this occasion to outline what I see as five key goals for the next 10 to 12 months - objectives toward which I expect to work with all segments of the academic community and which I hope are broadly shared.

  • With Chancellor John Petersen's leadership, enhancement of the University's already strong capacity to conduct internationally recognized scholarship and research. This is a multi-pronged effort, encompassing development of strong incentive mechanisms (including incentives for cooperation across departmental and school lines, and collaboration between Storrs and the Health Center), creation of "faculty-friendly" administrative processes, and continued enhancement of facilities. Support for excellence in graduate education is a closely related goal.
  • Aggressive implementation of the fundraising campaign - an activity which will continue to call for the participation of a wide range of faculty and students in the presentation of the University's powerful message to potential supporters.
  • Completion of several major construction projects (a partial list includes the hotel/conference center, School of Business, parking garage, student apartments and Hilltop residence halls, Wilbur Cross renovations, and the Marine Sciences building at Avery Point); continued progress on several others - including work already begun for the new campus in downtown Waterbury; and laying the groundwork for post-UConn 2000 plans.
  • Ongoing efforts, in close consultation with all key University constituencies, to assure efficient, effective use of current resources as we advocate for additional state and private support.
  • Continued implementation of the Health Center's integrated Strategic Plan, with a particular emphasis on developing the four Signature Programs that build on existing clinical and research strength (cancer; brain and human behavior; musculoskeletal disease; and strengthening Connecticut health).

These goals, important in themselves, fit into the University's broader objectives. Their attainment is critical to the implementation of our teaching, research and community service mission. They are not by any means the only activities that will be going on in Storrs, Farmington, or at the regional campuses this academic year. But the progress we see all around us gives us every reason to be confident that we can meet each of them.

As the summer of 2001 comes to a close, the sense of excitement across UConn is as deep as it is well justified. All of us can look forward to a busy, productive and fulfilling academic year.

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