A $250,000 gift to the University’s Torrington Campus will enhance the Litchfield County Writers and Artists Project (LCWAP), a program that has brought dozens of highly acclaimed authors and artisans to campus.
The gift, the largest to date to the Torrington campus, will allow for a room in the M. Adela Eads Classroom Building to be renovated into a dual-purpose teaching and gallery area.
It will also sustain the writer and artists project through an endowed fund that supports fellowships and sponsors events.
The first display in the teaching and gallery area will feature the works of Robley E. Whitson, a distinguished writer and artist from Litchfield County who helped coordinate the gift from a couple who prefer to remain anonymous.
“This has come as a wonderful honor and an unexpected delight,” Whitson says.
“What is most impressive about the writers and artists program is that it allows for the development of the connection between academics and the community at large. It moves beyond academia and has become something unique, wonderful, and valuable, where the University truly meets the public.”
Whitson says the program provides an atmosphere that is conducive to a deeper understanding of the arts, and the gift will support that through the room renovations.
“For a visitor, the dual-purpose room area will be much more experiential than a typical gallery,” he says.
“Instead of simply looking up at the pictures, patrons can actually study what the art means. There aren’t many settings where you find the academics, the community, and the arts so integrated.”
The Litchfield County Writers and Artists Project, the primary outreach effort of UConn’s Torrington campus, has attracted such authors as Frank McCourt and Arthur Miller.
The presentations, which are open to the public, have drawn audiences from across Connecticut.
Director Davyne Verstandig says that the involvement of the Litchfield County community has played a large role in the program’s success.
“I don’t think there’s any other community quite like this one,” she says.
“There are dozens of award-winning authors in this area, and it’s fascinating to see that talent come together and engage in dialogue with this community. The fact that our project is free and open to the public matters a great deal. At each lecture, one can find a wide range of backgrounds, perspectives, and viewpoints.”
Geraldine Van Doren, an English professor at the campus and a member of the project’s advisory board, says LCWAP has helped put UConn-Torrington on the map. It has also encouraged faculty from various disciplines to come together.
She says the gift will further increase the project’s visibility.
“This campus has such an interdisciplinary atmosphere,” says Van Doren.
“Torrington is so intimate, which I think gives us a certain freedom to work together. It is different from any campus at any university I’ve seen.
“The writers and artists project provides a catalyst on campus,” she adds.
“And there’s a wonderful value to the community through the writers and filmmakers who have come. The more we invest in it, the more it will give back to the entire University and the state.”