New Haven Alumni Get Pep Talk

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UConn Alumni attend the National Series event at the New Haven Lawn Club. UConn President Susan Herbst (far left) and UConn Foundation President & CEO Josh Newton (third from left) spoke at the event. (Credit: Jack Kramer, UConn Foundation)

University of Connecticut officials pledged to increase the school’s outreach to greater New Haven area alumni at a recent event held in the Elm City.

About 70 UConn alumni, in attendance at the New Haven Lawn Club, came away impressed and energized after hearing the school’s president and the leader of UConn’s top scholarship, fundraising and alumni engagement organization talk up the university’s resume.

Alexander Babbidge, president of Babbidge Construction Co. in New Haven and who also received his MBA in business from UConn in 1999, came to the Sept. 24th event because he had never met UConn President Susan Herbst before. Herbst was in New Haven as part of her continuing National Series talks.

“She’s very impressive,” said Babbidge, who earned his undergraduate degree at Yale University in New Haven in 1986s. “I think UConn is headed in a great direction. She and Josh Newton [president and CEO of the UConn Foundation] bring a sense of passion that gets everyone excited about the future at UConn.”

Babbidge said his daughter is currently a senior at North Haven High School “and UConn is certainly a college that we’d love to consider” for her to attend next year.

UConn alumni first watched a film highlighting achievements over the past few years—from being ranked in the top 25 public universities in the country to its winning of national basketball championships—and then chatted with the president about the school.

“We’ve got a lot to brag about,” said Herbst. “We got hammered with applications this past year—more than 35,000—for a freshman class of about 5,200 (on all UConn campuses, including Storrs).”

Herbst added, “We are a comprehensive university. We have more and more international students. We’ve truly become global in our reach.” Additionally, Herbst said: “Our faculty is top-notch, laser-focused on our students.”

She continued that UConn enjoys the support of the state’s biggest cheerleader—Governor Dannel P. Malloy. “He is our advocate, especially when it comes to the type of growing research and economic development work that is happening at UConn.”

Herbst did caution, however, “We still do have our challenges, especially when it comes to funding.”
“Philanthropy is our future,” said UConn’s president. “Holding onto state funding is certainly not a given. That’s why the UConn Foundation work is so important.”

Newton said one of the goals of the Foundation “is to strengthen our alumni outreach.”

“You are going to see us more in New Haven, in Fairfield County, in Hartford,” continued Newton. “This is not a one-time visit.”

Katrice Sponzo, Assistant Director of Alumni Chapters & Networks at UConn, echoed Newton’s words: “We need to make New Haven a stronger network,” she said. She added that about a dozen New Haven area UConn alumni have expressed an interest in being “more involved” in UConn activities.

“My plan is to follow up with this group and host an open meeting in the next couple weeks to discuss expanding engagement opportunities for our alums and develop a volunteer advisory committee to aide in these efforts.”

In November, two other UConn National Series events are planned—one hosted by Michael Cantor of the law offices of Cantor Colburn LLP, and a UConn Foundation Board member, in Atlanta. Later that month an alumni event is planned in Baltimore, featuring Dr. Bruce Liang, Dean of the UConn School of Medicine.

Both events are open to all UConn alumni.