Plans to enhance our capacity to address environmental issues are a logical next step to the progress of the past decade. These plans will ensure that UConn is a good neighbor, a responsible steward of natural resources and responsive organization.
An issue that has generated extensive discussion both within our own UConn community and beyond our borders is the manner in which the University of Connecticut, a major American institution of higher learning and research now in the midst of a massive construction program, anticipates and responds to environmental challenges.
Last month Chancellor Petersen and I presented a plan for enhancing the University's capacity to address environmental concerns promptly, responsibly, and effectively.
Since the initiation of UConn 2000, in Storrs alone we have engaged in building or extensively renovating 10 teaching and research buildings, nine apartment/residence hall complexes for 6,500 students, two parking garages, a field house, an ice rink, and several administrative buildings.
In several cases, we worked with external partners on major projects: a private sector collaboration led to the Nathan Hale Inn; the generosity of Philip and Christine Lodewick produced a much-needed visitors' center; federal support helped fund the new Agriculture-Biotechnology Building. But whatever the source of funding, the achievements speak for themselves.
It is the nature of construction that every significant activity entails some disruption, in many cases temporary and, in a few cases, of longer duration. We recognize the intensity of feeling about this. We try to respond to all legitimate concerns. For the most part our efforts have been successful, thanks to the dedication of an excellent group of professional staff.
Given the magnitude of our construction program, our role as a center of research, and the level of activity involved in meeting the needs of thousands of students, faculty, and staff in ongoing operations, our overall record is exceptional.
As Chancellor Petersen and I have indicated, this is an appropriate time to take a logical next step: specifically, to implement an administrative structure to improve all environmental aspects of the University's operations at Storrs and the regional campuses. Our goal is to build on a strong foundation to establish a mechanism that will:
We are now beginning to implement four actions to reach these goals:
The ultimate goal of this four-part program is that UConn continue to be - and, increasingly, be seen as being - a good neighbor, a responsible steward of natural resources, and a responsive organization, even as we fulfill the promise of the past decade.
I recognize that there will always be a handful of people in this community whose real agenda is to limit the University's growth, primarily by keeping things as they are. No structure or outreach effort will satisfy this small group.
But the great majority of people in and around Mansfield support UConn's transformation. They want and deserve the assurance that we are responsive to legitimate concerns, and our program should meet this expectation.
People of good will know that there is no conflict between academic excellence and environmental responsibility. At an institution of the University of Connecticut's level of quality and aspiration, the two objectives must go hand in hand. We intend to make sure that continues to be the case, as we work toward accelerated progress in the years to come.