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  April 5, 2004

McFadden To Receive University Medal

Peter W. McFadden, who earned two degrees from UConn and has served the University in a variety of administrative posts, including several since his retirement in 1997, will be awarded a University Medal during undergraduate commencement exercises on May 9.

Image: Peter McFadden

Peter McFadden, a UConn alumnus, professor, and administrator who has worked at the University since 1971, will receive the University Medal during commencement ceremonies on May 9.

Photo by Peter Morenus

McFadden earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at UConn in 1954, and a master's degree in mechanical engineering in 1957. He then earned his doctoral degree from Purdue University in 1959, and stayed as a member of Purdue's faculty for 12 years. He returned to Storrs as dean of the School of Engineering in 1971 and never left, with the exception of two brief attempts at retirement. He currently serves as interim director of the Environmental Research Institute, a position he accepted after the institute ran into major difficulties.

"Few individuals have served the University of Connecticut as loyally, or as ably, as Peter McFadden," says University President Philip E. Austin. "I was privileged to work closely with Peter during my first years at UConn, and in the years since his retirement I have often called on him for advice and for service in highly sensitive assignments. Whenever he's been approached, no matter how daunting the task, Peter has stepped forward and performed admirably."

The University Medal is one of UConn's highest honors, and has been awarded only 27 times. The first University Medal was presented to Gov. John N. Dempsey in 1983. The award recognizes outstanding professional achievement, leadership, and distinguished public service at a community, state, national or international level, and an extraordinary commitment to the University.

Following his tenure as dean, from 1971-1985, McFadden returned to the mechanical engineering faculty, and also took on the relatively new post of development director for the school. He also was assistant director of the fledgling UConn Foundation. He then served six months as vice president and provost, implementing a new administrative structure that created the position of provost and chief academic officer.

McFadden returned to the School of Engineering from 1988-89, before being named executive assistant to the president and executive secretary to the Board of Trustees, a position he held from 1989-97, when he retired for the first time.

In 1998-99, he returned to guide the UConn Alumni Association through a critical transition period. He retired again, then came back again last year to help put the Environmental Research Institute back on a strong management footing.

"Throughout these assignments - indeed, over the course of more than a half century's association with the University, as student, professor, and leader - Dr. McFadden has consistently demonstrated qualities of loyalty, integrity, good judgment, and good humor," Austin says.

"Few individuals on campus are more widely admired or more deeply respected," wrote Austin, in a letter recommending the award, "and the University Medal — is a token of the esteem in which Peter McFadden is held."