November 2014

UConn Foundation Launches $150 Million Student Support Initiative

Jennifer Doak-Mathewson
Jennifer Doak-Mathewson

< 1 min read

The Board of Directors of the UConn Foundation endorsed a five-year, $150 million fundraising initiative last week that will double the amount of financial support—including merit and need-based scholarships—that the Foundation raises for the benefit of the UConn student body.

Foundation President Josh Newton said the funds, which will include merit and need-based scholarships, will be necessary to ensure that financial aid is available for a student body that is expected to grow by 6,580 students — a 30 percent increase — over the next decade.

“As we add all these students, the burden on the state budget to continue to provide for financial aid is tough,” Newton said. “I think philanthropy can and will play an increasingly important role in making UConn affordable and accessible.”

Read the full article in The Hartford Courant as well as the Foundation’s press release to learn more about this exciting new initiative.

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RELEASE: UConn Foundation Board Endorses $150 Million for Scholarships

Jennifer Doak-Mathewson
Jennifer Doak-Mathewson

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Five-year plan will double money Foundation raises for scholarships and fellowships, ensure UConn attracts best and brightest

STORRS—On Nov. 7, the Board of Directors of the UConn Foundation endorsed a five-year, $150 million fundraising initiative that will double the amount of financial support—including merit and need-based scholarships—that the Foundation raises for the benefit of the UConn student body.

Over the past five years, the Foundation has raised an average of $15.6 million annually for student support—including scholarships, fellowships and assistantships—helping the University’s efforts to offer aid to more than 10,000 students each year.

The new initiative calls for the Foundation to increase that number to $30 million annually.

“A university’s success is measured by the students it attracts and educates, which today means that growing our financial aid capabilities is more important than ever,” said UConn President Susan Herbst. “This initiative by the Foundation’s Board of Directors will help ensure UConn’s status as a destination for the types of talented, ambitious students who are the heart of a great university.”

This ambitious undertaking comes at a pivotal time for UConn, as the number of students applying to the University is approaching 32,200—triple the number of applications in 1995.

UConn is also adding 6,580 students over the course of a decade, an increase of almost 30 percent. Much of the expected increase in enrollment is connected to Next Generation Connecticut, a $1.5 billion state-supported plan to strengthen UConn with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and math.

“As UConn adds 30 percent more students over the next decade, the need for scholarship and fellowship support will grow considerably,” said Josh Newton, president of the UConn Foundation. “The UConn Foundation’s $150 million initiative will bring a UConn education within reach of more families and strengthen the University’s standing among top public institutions.”

The Foundation’s initiative will not only help UConn attract and retain students, but also combat student debt levels after graduation. Currently 83 percent of UConn undergraduates receive some form of financial aid. While the average student loan debt at UConn for 2013 graduates was $24,600, that is nearly 20 percent lower than the national average ($30,000) for students at private and public institutions.

“UConn is a great value and we’re proud that on average its students are graduating with less debt than their peers at other schools,” said Coleman Levy, Chairman of the Foundation’s Board of Directors. “We must ensure that UConn not only remains competitive with other nationally ranked universities, but that we are a leader in terms of affordability and accessibility.”

The Foundation’s student support initiative comes at a time when UConn has risen dramatically in stature. It currently ranks No. 19 on the U.S. News & World Report list of the nation’s top public research universities.
Investment in facilities and faculty has played a key role in UConn’s ascent, enabling the University to attract greater numbers of high-caliber students. In recent years, each incoming freshman class has exceeded the previous one in academic accomplishment. This year’s freshman class has an average SAT score of 1234, the highest in UConn history.

The student support initiative, which was unanimously endorsed by the Foundation’s Board of Directors at a full board meeting on Friday, Nov. 7, will be officially launched early next year. Last year the UConn Foundation received philanthropic gifts and commitments totaling $81.1 million, a 23 percent increase over the preceding year and the highest level of giving in the 50-year history of the UConn Foundation.

-END-

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From The Crowd: UConn Makes Hockey East Debut

Jennifer Doak-Mathewson
Jennifer Doak-Mathewson

2 min read

On Wednesday night, the UConn Men’s Ice Hockey program made its home debut in Hockey East in front of a sellout crowd with a thrilling 1-0 victory over Boston College. As part of this historic event, UConn Athletics was pleased to welcome back many former players and longtime supporters of the men’s ice hockey. Throughout the evening, we had the opportunity to catch up with a few to hear what it means for them to see their beloved program make its debut in the nation’s premiere conference.

Todd Krygier during a UConn Hockey alumni event.

“30 years ago I stepped foot on campus for the first time. When I arrived I remember the first thing I did; I went for a walk across campus to check out the rink. Needless to say, I was in shock when I saw it was outside. That didn’t matter though; my teammates and I always worked hard and took pride in our program. We always talked about UConn Hockey being great and competing at the highest levels. I take great pride in being here for our first home game in Hockey East. This is a dream come true for all those who played and have supported UConn Hockey through the years.”
– Todd Krygier ’87

Jim Mitchell at a  UConn Hockey alumni event.

“When I was at student at UConn in the early 1980s I drove the Zamboni and worked as a goal judge. Back then, we played our games outside, so to be at the XL Center tonight for our first game in Hockey East is great. UConn Hockey holds a special place in my heart. Seeing it grow through the years makes me incredibly happy. It’s great to see so many former players and longtime supporters of our program here tonight. There is energy around UConn Hockey that we’ve never seen before. I am incredibly excited for our future.”
– Jim Mitchell ’83

UConn Hockey supporter Darin Cook during an alumni event.

“I’ve been going to games and supporting UConn Hockey since the year 2000. Back then, the team was part of the MAAC, so being here tonight is very special. My son plays hockey, and practices on campus at the Freitas Ice Forum. Over the years we’ve met a lot guys on the team. They’ve been great role models and my son really looks up to them. Having the chance to watch their first home game in Hockey East with him really means a lot to me.”
– Darin Cook

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UConn Athletics Celebrates Endowed Scholarship Donors

Jennifer Doak-Mathewson
Jennifer Doak-Mathewson

3 min read

Nearly 250 donors, student-athletes, coaches and administrators gathered inside Rome Ballroom in October for the UConn Athletics Annual Endowed Scholarship Dinner. Throughout the evening, which featured a social hour, dinner and speaking program, those in attendance heard about the importance of endowed scholarships on the lives of UConn’s student-athletes and the success of its programs.

“The Endowed Scholarship Dinner is a special night for UConn Athletics,” said Director of Athletics Warde Manuel. “Each year I really look forward to this event because it’s a great opportunity for our student-athletes to come face-to-face with and get to know the individuals who support their education. By endowing a scholarship, our donors are providing our student-athletes with a great education, which is a gift that will benefit them for a lifetime. ”

From Latvia to Husky Nation

For women’s track and field standout Saija Bikanova, it was a long journey to Connecticut. Born and raised in the small Eastern European country of Latvia, she never dreamed of one day running track while receiving an education from one of the premiere universities in the United States.

Since arriving on campus nearly four years ago, Bikanova has learned many valuable lessons that go well beyond her time in the classroom and on the track.

“I’ve learned so much about toughness, determination and dedication,” she said. “UConn has brought out the best of me both on the track and in the classroom. It hasn’t always been easy, but I know everything I’ve learned here has prepared me to be successful once I graduate. I am incredibly grateful for everybody here tonight. You have made this UConn experience possible for me and so many of my fellow student-athletes.”

Empowering coaches to recruit champions

Endowed scholarships have an impact on others besides the student-athletes who receive them. For UConn’s coaches, endowed scholarships allow them to continue attracting talented student-athletes from around the world.

“Recruiting is the lifeblood of any program,” said UConn Women’s Hockey Coach Chris MacKenzie. “As our program continues to grow, it’s important that we have the ability to provide scholarships to bring in the best and brightest student-athletes. I think tonight’s Endowed Scholarship Dinner says a great deal about the wonderful support we receive from our donors here at UConn.”

Spirited alumni give back

While endowed scholarships have a direct effect on UConn’s student-athletes and coaches, the ability to make this type of impact is very rewarding for those who invest in scholarships.

Hailing from the heart of UConn Country, Mike Soltys ’81 and his family have a deep connection to the University of Connecticut. For 25 years, his father Joseph worked as the sports information director, then during his time on campus, Mike had the good fortune to meet his wife Teresa, and in recent years two of their children graduated from UConn while their youngest is a senior who’s looking forward to graduating this spring.

“Because of UConn, I have had a great life and a successful career doing what I love — working in the sports industry,” Soltys said. “By endowing a scholarship in my parents’ honor, I have the opportunity to pay tribute to them as we support hard working and talented students who also dream of working in sports one day. Being here tonight is wonderful because we love having the chance to meet the students supported by these scholarships and to see the excitement on their faces.”

For over 20 years, Mike Melio has been a loyal donor to UConn Athletics. During that time, he has supported numerous initiatives, but for him, there is something special about making a gift to support the education of student-athletes.

“It’s all about education, without it we would be nothing,” Melio said. “We have so many wonderful student-athletes representing UConn. Personally, it’s very fulfilling to support these young people academically. I strongly believe we have student-athletes here at the University of Connecticut who will one day go on to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems.”

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Local Engineering Firm Launches Matching Gift Challenge

Jennifer Doak-Mathewson
Jennifer Doak-Mathewson

2 min read

For many years, the UConn School of Engineering has been proud to partner with locally owned engineering firm Fuss & O’Neill. As part of their continued investment in the University, the company has launched a new matching gift initiative that will increase funding for the Fuss & O’Neill Endowed Scholarship Fund.

At a reception held at Cheney Hall in Manchester, Peter Grose, president and CEO of Fuss & O’Neill, announced that the company plans to invest up to $30,000 over the next three years into the scholarship endowment. During this time, the company has pledged to commit a total of $15,000 to the scholarship fund. In addition, Fuss & O’Neill will match all private gifts made to the endowment totaling up to $15,000.

“UConn is a leader in the engineering field,” said Grose. “The partnership we have enjoyed with them has figured prominently into the success we’ve enjoyed as a company. As we look into the future of Fuss & O’Neill, we are excited to continue supporting and working with top engineers and scientists who graduate from the UConn School of Engineering.”

“This is a very exciting and rewarding time to be part of the UConn School of Engineering,” said Ross Bagtzoglou, Head of UConn’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. “With our continued growth, it is vital that we have the resources to provide scholarship opportunities. This will allow us to continue attracting the top students and provide them with tools necessary to be successful. We are very grateful for this increased investment by Fuss & O’Neill. It will provide great value for our current and future students.”

Through the years, many individuals with ties to the University of Connecticut have worked for Fuss & O’Neill. Currently the company employs 42 UConn alums, including Katy Carrol ‘82, who has worked in graphic design and marketing for more than 25 years.

For Katy, the University of Connecticut has always been an important part of her life. Both of her parents graduated from UConn (Kenneth Uliasz ’55 & Joanne Uliasz ’58) and currently her son Cody is a senior on campus studying journalism.

Through this new matching gift program, she will have the opportunity to support both her employer as well as the school that has meant so much to her and her family.

“Having the chance to support both of these wonderful organizations makes me feel right at home,” she said. “I am a proud alum, so it means a lot to know I work for a company that shares the same commitment to UConn that I have.”
Awarded annually since 1999, the Fuss & O’Neill Scholarship has played a pivotal role in the lives of many talented engineering students at UConn. This year the scholarship was awarded to seniors Kevin Pierce and Alex Freeman.
“My whole experience as a student at UConn has been amazing,” Pierce said. “The Fuss & O’Neill scholarship has been incredibly helpful. It’s opened up so many doors and opportunities for me. I can’t thank them enough for everything they’ve done.”

“I am very thankful to receive the Fuss & O’Neill scholarship,” Freeman said. “Seeing how much this scholarship has helped me, has inspired me to one day give back to UConn so future students can enjoy the same opportunities that I have.”

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