Shari and Michael Cantor have been proud members of the University of Connecticut community, beginning when they attended as undergraduates. Since then, their connection to the university has evolved and deepened, and their ties to UConn are even stronger. Shari, the Deputy Mayor of West Hartford, was recently appointed by Governor Dannel Malloy to UConn’s Board of Trustees. Michael Cantor is also currently a board member of the UConn Foundation.
Elevating UConn to top-10 status
The Cantors recognize that UConn has had a powerful and positive impact on their lives, their four sons’ lives, and their community. They give to numerous schools and programs at UConn because they believe so strongly in its importance to the quality of life for everyone in Connecticut, and they envision a future for UConn as a top-10 destination school for the country’s best and brightest.
“Shari and I came from modest means,” says Michael Cantor. “We both went to UConn. Shari received a degree in accounting and is a CPA. My degree was in chemical and materials engineering, and then I went on to law school. My undergraduate and law school education were instrumental in helping me establish one of the top intellectual property law firms in the country.”
The Cantors enjoy UConn sports—UConn basketball is a family passion—and believe that the competition aspect in sports helps drive the effort to make UConn one of the top academic colleges in the country. They also continue to step forward with funding to help UConn achieve the goal of being in the conversation when the topic of best universities—and not just in sports—is discussed.
The Cantors spread their donation dollars to UConn around, making healthy contributions to the Schools of Business, Engineering, and Law, to UConn Health, and to the campus Hillel House, where Shari served as board president for three years. And it doesn’t end there, as they also contribute money to the marketing and branding of the university. Last year, for instance, their contributions helped pay for a full-page advertisement in The New York Times, promoting UConn as a highly ranked public university with growing enrollment and faculty.
The couple’s most recent gift to the School of Law will be used to help fund the education of students who demonstrate an interest in pursuing a career in intellectual property or patent law, as is practiced at Cantor Colburn, the law firm Michael Cantor co-manages. Today, Cantor Colburn is one of the nation’s largest and most productive full-service intellectual property law firms, with 100 attorneys and offices in Hartford, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Houston, and Detroit.
This gift to UConn comes amid the UConn Foundation’s student support initiative to raise $150 million in scholarships and fellowships.
“This scholarship fund will make a tremendous difference for our students,” said UConn Law School Dean Timothy Fisher. “At a time when the cost of law schools has risen higher than ever, it is crucial to be able to help those in need. The Cantor family already contributes to UConn in many ways; the law school is truly fortunate to be part of this family’s great spirit of giving.”
Michael Cantor says: “UConn needs to be a top-10 school, like Michigan, or UNC. We want to help make that happen. UConn touches our family in many different ways and we care about all aspects of UConn. That’s why we donate.”
All in the family
The Cantors great respect and love for the University has been passed down to their family. In addition to Shari and Michael, their son Benjamin graduated from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in May and starts at the law school in August. Their son Joshua enters UConn’s MBA program this fall. Michael has been an adjunct professor in the law school teaching patent law for about 20 years, is a former member of the Institute of Materials Sciences Advisory Board, and is a Founding Fellow of UConn’s Academy of Distinguished Engineers and Hall of Fame.
“The Cantors’ passion for UConn is inspiring,” says Joshua Newton, president and CEO of the UConn Foundation. “The strength of their relationship with their alma mater is evident on so many levels—from their active alumni and board engagement to their willingness to support multiple programs and future generations of UConn grads. They truly embody the UConn spirit.”
“We are very committed to UConn,” says Shari Cantor. “Just look at what UConn has done for us—given us a great education at a very reasonable cost. UConn is an incredible deal and a valuable education. We want to do everything we can to ensure others have that same opportunity.”
A gift to UConn is a gift to Connecticut
“We also hope our gift will spur others to donate,” she adds, “We truly believe that UConn as Connecticut’s flagship university is an important part of the state economy and the continued success of the university is an important element of the economy.”
Adds Michael Cantor: “We want to make Connecticut a destination location for college-age teens, just like New York or Boston. And it doesn’t end there. Connecticut should be a place where young people starting their careers after college strive to be.”