October 2014

Basketball Center Dedicated to Werth Family

Jennifer Doak-Mathewson
Jennifer Doak-Mathewson

3 min read

History was made on the UConn campus today, as the UConn Foundation handed over to the University the first building financed entirely with private donations and no taxpayer money. The UConn Basketball Champions Center was dedicated in the name of Peter J. and Pamela H. Werth, who made their second gift in three years for the new practice and training home for the Huskies’ championship basketball programs.

The $40 million state-of-the-art basketball practice facility behind Harry A. Gampel Pavilion, the on-campus home of the 2014 NCAA men’s and women’s basketball championship teams, will ensure that no university will surpass UConn when it comes to supporting its student-athletes.

“We believe the Werth Family UConn Basketball Champions Center is the key to sustaining UConn’s tradition of great basketball,” says Coleman Levy ‘61, ’62, ’66, chairman of the UConn Foundation Board of Directors. “Built solely with private donations, this new facility is a real tribute to the steadfastness of our friends and alumni and their willingness to support UConn’s transformation and vision for the future. We are so grateful to the Werth family and the many generous donors who helped make this great new facility possible.”

The 75,000-plus square-foot facility features complete facilities for the men’s and women’s championship basketball programs. The building includes common academic support, sports medicine and strength training areas along with separate practice gyms, locker rooms, coaches’ offices, meeting rooms and video analysis facilities.

Upon entering the Werth Family UConn Basketball Champions Center, the lobby will feature a display of NCAA trophies representing the four men’s championships and the nine women’s titles. On each side of the main lobby leading to the women’s and men’s areas, visitors will be greeted by a floor-to-ceiling image of an iconic Husky representing each program—Maya Moore and Ray Allen.

Last year men’s head coach Kevin Ollie ’95 and women’s head coach Geno Auriemma led the Huskies to dual championships, a feat accomplished just once before in NCAA history when Jim Calhoun and Auriemma led UConn to both national championships in 2004.

The Werth family is also making history; their original gift for the practice facility three years ago was one of the largest single private gifts ever made to the Division of Athletics. Now the Werths are making another investment in UConn’s quest for additional championships.

“UConn is a very special place,” says Peter Werth, a season ticket holder for both basketball teams and the football team, who says he has a special fondness for UConn women’s basketball. “The young people who go to UConn come out better than they went in, not only in terms of education but also in attitude and life skills. UConn does a great job and my family is pleased to be able to support it.”

Pamela Werth, a strong supporter of programs that marry the arts and sports to education, said she was impressed by the building’s focus on education resources for student athletes. “The sound-proof study rooms and educational support areas are a tribute to the importance of academics to our student-athletes,” she says.

Peter Werth is the founder and CEO of Chemwerth Inc., a full service generic drug development and supply company based in Connecticut. He and his wife have been active UConn Athletics donors since 2003. Their strong connection to the University began with their children—Peter III, Debbie and Jackie—all of whom attended UConn.

Warde Manuel, UConn director of athletics, says the Werth Family UConn Basketball Champions Center will provide important support for student-athletes who join one of the nation’s best-known championship basketball programs.

“I look at this building as an important resource for our championship basketball programs and for Coaches Geno Auriemma and Kevin Ollie, who provide the leadership that allows our student athletes to excel in their sport and in their classrooms” he says.

The Werth Family UConn Basketball Champions Center was designed by Populous, the former HOK Sport, which designed The Burton Family Football Complex and Mark R. Shenkman Training Center located across the street from the new facilty.

We still need your help! Support the Werth Family UConn Basketball Champions Center today.

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Devotion to Waterbury and Education Prompts $1 Million Gift

Jennifer Doak-Mathewson
Jennifer Doak-Mathewson

2 min read

David and Joan Reed have a special fondness for Waterbury and for UConn, and they’ve made their affection permanent with an endowed gift of $1 million to the University’s Waterbury campus.

Their donation will create the David and Joan Reed Faculty Fellowship to bring UConn’s best faculty to teach at the Waterbury campus.

With excellence in teaching as the key criterion for the selection of fellowship recipients, the Reeds believe their gift will bring exciting new life to UConn Waterbury and keep its education vital. The teaching fellowship dovetails with UConn’s Academic Vision, which prioritizes teaching effectiveness as an overarching goal in its aspiration to become one of the nation’s top universities.

“Access to great education is an essential ingredient of a flourishing community, and we believe our gift will be helpful in enriching UConn Waterbury and the entire area,” said Reed. Both David and Joan Reed were born in Naugatuck and graduated from Naugatuck High School. David attended the UConn Waterbury campus for two years before transferring to Storrs, where he graduated in 1955.  He went on to Yale for medical school. Joan received an MBA from Southern Connecticut State College.  The couple spent their adult lives in the Waterbury area— David to practice internal medicine in affiliation with Waterbury Hospital and Joan to teach mathematics for several years at Amity Sr. High School and as a volunteer for many social and charitable organizations.

When Reed retired in 2009, he wanted to “keep his mind sharp,” so he began teaching a course on the Soviet Union in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the UConn Waterbury campus.   The Institute, one of 122 OLLI programs nationwide, offers nearly 40 non-credit courses for adults from more than 65 towns and cities in Connecticut. Reed enjoyed the experience so much that he developed a follow-up course on espionage tactics and strategies employed by the Soviets and the Americans to keep tabs on each other.  That course proved even more popular than the first, and Dr. Reed went on to teach another course on Eastern Europe. He is now a practiced presenter for the OLLI program.

In recent years, he and Joan have watched with great pleasure as the Waterbury campus has moved and grown.  “During my time, classes were held in a converted elementary school building,” said Reed.

In 2003, the branch relocated to a new building in downtown Waterbury.  It now serves more than 1,100 students and, besides providing entry to UConn’s more than 100 undergraduate degree programs, it offers seven bachelor degree programs and three graduate degree programs as well as course work for the Master of Social Work.

Another expansion underway will add more classroom, meeting and study space in the “Rectory” building across the street.

“The Reed Fellowship will bring exceptional professors and exciting content to the Waterbury campus,” said Mun Y. Choi, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “The holder of the fellowship will mentor others in teaching and stimulate intellectual debate and discourse, and the fellowship provides funds for curriculum development and for instructional technologies that enrich learning.”

The first Reed Fellow is expected to be named in the spring.

“Students at UConn Waterbury enjoy smaller classes and a high level of interaction with faculty members,” said William Pizzuto, campus director.  “We are grateful to the Reeds for their generous gift, which ensures that education here continues to provide the same quality and rigor as the Storrs campus.”

Join the Reeds in supporting UConn Waterbury

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UConn Alum Pledges $8 Million to Transform Soccer Complex

Jennifer Doak-Mathewson
Jennifer Doak-Mathewson

2 min read

Former University of Connecticut men’s soccer student-athlete Tony Rizza ’87 has pledged a total of $8 million to transform the soccer complex and build a brand-new state-of-the-art soccer stadium on the Storrs campus. The new facility will be built on the site of the current Joseph J. Morrone Stadium and will bear the same name. The overall soccer complex, which will include the new stadium as well as the existing training grounds and practice field adjacent to the stadium, will be named the Rizza Family Soccer Complex in recognition of this transformative gift.

Learn more about Rizza’s gift on UConn Today.

“The gift is my way of recognizing coaches, faculty, and campus staff who helped me while I was at UConn and it’s a small way of saying thank you,” said Rizza. “My experience at UConn and, more specifically, with the men’s soccer program provided me with important life skill that have helped me succeed in my career.”

Rizza was coached by Morrone while at UConn and earned academic all-star recognition. “To be a successful student-athlete at a high level like UConn, one must be disciplined, dedicated, motivated and focused on achieving goals,” he said. “I learned this during my four years playing soccer in Storrs, and I have used it in my professional life every day since the day I graduated.”

He has challenged the UConn community to match his gift of $5 million to transform Morrone Stadium. This matched gift challenge, along with an earlier pledge of $3 million, makes Tony the biggest donor to UConn Athletics.

Learn more about the matched gift challenge.

A Tradition of Success

Rizza is part of a long tradition of athletic success at UConn, as the men’s and women’s soccer teams are no exception to the proud Husky tradition of producing champions:

  • UConn men’s soccer has won three NCAA championships and earned 16 consecutive berths in the NCAA tournament.
  • The men’s soccer team put UConn on a national stage in athletics, winning UConn’s first NCAA men’s championship in any sport in 1981.
  • UConn women’s soccer has earned 26 consecutive appearances in the NCAA tournament and made trips to two national championship games and seven national semifinals.
  • Men’s soccer head coach Ray Reid holds a 394-97-61 record at UConn.
  • Women’s head coach Len Tsantiris—who played soccer at UConn as a student—enjoys a stellar 511-180-50 record.

About Joseph J. Morrone Stadium

Morrone Stadium, Storrs Campus
Joseph J. Morrone Stadium

Joseph J. Morrone Stadium was built in 1969 and has undergone several major renovations since, thanks to both state funds and private contributions through the UConn Friends of Soccer support organization. It draws an average of more than 4,000 fans for each men’s soccer game—a top-five attendance record among college programs since 1999—and in 2007 and 2011 saw both teams advance to and host the NCAA Quarterfinals.

A Home for Champions

UConn student-athletes rise to the challenge every day, both on the field and in the classroom. The skills they learn as team members help them long after they graduate, and donors like Tony Rizza are a testament to the value of UConn athletics.

Help us rise to the challenge by supporting a stadium that matches the success of the UConn Soccer program.

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Sharing the Fruits of Hard Work with a Scholarship

Jennifer Doak-Mathewson
Jennifer Doak-Mathewson

< 1 min read

When Joseph DiPietro graduated from UConn in 1955, there were about 8,000 undergraduates in Storrs, then a very rural community with lots of rolling hills.

In September, when DiPietro returned to UConn for the first time since graduation, he was astonished by the number of buildings on campus and by the 17,000 undergraduates in attendance.

“We think the campus looks great,” said DiPietro, who visited the Storrs campus with his wife, Lori, to meet Gabriel Bachinelo ’16, the first recipient of the scholarship fund they established.

“It’s exciting to provide a scholarship,” said DiPietro after meeting and speaking with Bachinelo, an accounting major in the School of Business. “Gabe is a great choice for our first award. We anticipate great things from him.” DiPietro said he is pleased that his scholarship supports a student who, like him, is the child of immigrants and a first-generation college student. DiPietro’s parents came to the U.S. from Italy, while Gabe’s family came to the U.S. from Colombia.

“I started out in the School of Engineering, not breaking any records,” says DiPietro, who switched to business in his junior year and became an honor student. He went on to a long and successful career with Pfizer.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to fund a scholarship and show how my years of hard work have paid off,” said DiPietro.

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