Richard ’69 ’77 and Kathleen Narowski have supported UConn for nearly 25 years, and it’s that shared concern for the future of education that has prompted them to now create an endowed graduate fellowship in the School of Engineering.
The couple says that in the decades since graduation, they had stayed in contact with the University, both in person and through watching UConn athletics; when they looked at ways to contribute more philanthropically, they realized a gift that supported graduate students was perfectly in line with both their needs and UConn’s priorities.
“Obviously, there’s so much more need than any one person can fill,” Richard says. “But we feel lucky to be where we are in life, and we hope that our gift will allow someone to use that support and make their own life better, or perhaps become a leader in their field.”
Both Kathleen and Richard see a strong future for UConn in priority areas like STEM education and believe that it will remain a key part of any long-term strategy for the institution, powered in part by private support that attracts the best students and faculty.
“Having a viable and strong graduate program in the School of Engineering will help bring new energy to campus,” says Kathleen. “You need that kind of new energy to, in turn, attract and recruit the best undergraduate students to your university. Our gift will hopefully help to keep those graduate programs strong.”
Richard also sees great potential in partnerships between UConn and local corporations, a perspective he gained from a long career at Hamilton Sundstrand and his time serving on the School of Engineering’s Computer Science & Engineering Advisory Board.
“We’re concerned with our nation’s competitiveness right now,” Richard says. “There has been great success in drawing people from around the world to come here to study, but it takes work to keep us at that level. Supporting graduate students seemed like a logical extension to be able to make an impact on that.”
While their support benefits highly technical fields, both Richard and Kathleen see that part of UConn’s appeal is the wide range of studies and experiences.
“We want UConn to be a top engineering school, but we’d hate for it to be known as JUST an engineering school,” Richard says. “So much of an education is exposure to other people’s thinking, through the arts or in other ways. I believe that having that kind of broad experience at UConn enriched my own background, and it’s almost as important as the classes a student takes today.”