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  April 8, 2002

Regional Campaign Launched in D.C.
By Art Sorrentino

Campaign UConn received a boost last week, with a gala regional campaign kickoff event in Washington, D.C. Regional campaigns are a key component of the University's $300 million fund-raising effort, helping connect alumni and others with the unprecedented transformation taking place at all UConn's campuses.

Building Relationships
With the announcement last May of the public phase of the Campaign, a coordinated network of regional volunteer organizations was envisioned to extend the reach of the appeal by building relationships among alumni and others in the community.

Such interactions are often more effective in engaging those who may have lost contact with the University due to distance and the passing of time, says Anna Turbett, director of regional campaigns for the UConn Foundation. "Because of the peer-to-peer relationships we establish through the regional campaigns," she says, "our volunteers are able to build a sense of a larger mission and cultivate a shared sense of the value in staying connected with the University."

A second part of this strategy is identifying geographic areas where a concentration of graduates and other friends of the University exists. So far, the Foundation has formed committees and held regional campaign launches in Hartford and the west coast of Florida. There are also plans to hold a Fairfield County kickoff later this spring, with others to follow.

One metropolitan location where a large number of UConn alumni have settled is the nation's capital. The choice of the South African Embassy as the venue for the launch grew out of the ongoing relationships between the University and South Africa. These include the partnership that was established in 1999 between the University and the African National Congress, comprising archival, oral history and comparative human rights components; and a multi-faceted linkage with the leading historically black university in South Africa, the University of Fort Hare.

Col. Raymond Marutle, South African defense attachŽ, speaking on behalf of Ambassador Sheila Sisulu and the South African government, welcomed more than 100 guests to the evening's festivities April 4. "As the University of Connecticut continues to ascend among the ranks of the finest public universities in your nation, the effects of the University's transformation extend beyond your borders," he said. "The partnership that has been forged already between my country and the University serves well as the basis for continued mutual respect and understanding, to the great benefit of both."

This partnership has allowed UConn to establish a center of excellence in comparative human rights and to complement the reputation established with the opening of the Dodd Center in 1995. It has been another step in UConn's transformation into one of the preeminent public universities in the nation.

Following Marutle's remarks, President Philip E. Austin addressed the gathering, which included a number of political and business leaders from both Connecticut and the Washington, D.C. area. Also attending were John Cutler '66 and Sudhakar Shenoy '71, '73, co-chairs of the Washington D.C. Regional Campaign; Amii Omara-Otunnu, executive director of the UConn-African National Congress Partnership and UNESCO Chair in Comparative Human Rights at the University; Dumisa Ntsebeza, formerly the lead investigator on South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission and now a visiting distinguished professor at UConn; and Thomas J. Dodd Jr. and former U.S. Rep. Barbara Kennelly, members of the Dodd Center's national advisory board.

Margin of Excellence
"The University's exciting transformation goes much deeper than bricks and mortar," said Austin. "In addition to human rights, our other notable academic partnerships, innovative faculty, and high-achieving students are creating a margin of exceptional quality that helps us build not just a better university, but a better world. That's the message of Campaign UConn."

Turbett adds that the purpose of the regional campaigns goes beyond fund raising: "We're extremely fortunate to have two such dynamic and successful people as Sudhakar and John leading the effort in Washington," she says. "They have a strong belief and a way of engaging others in the message of the University - first and foremost, that we are in the process of becoming one of the top 25 public research institutions in the country."

Campaign UConn is seeking $75 million for merit- and need-based scholarships, $75 million for faculty support, and $150 million for program enhancements. As of March 31, more than $186 million had been raised.

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