October 2015

Current Students Review Two Storrs Center Restaurants

UConn Foundation
UConn Foundation

3 min read

If you haven’t checked out Storrs Center at UConn, you’re missing out on some seriously delicious meals. This Saturday during Huskies Forever Weekend, we invite you to explore UConn’s newest culinary hotspot during the Storrs Center Stroll.

Stuck on where to eat first? Read these UConn student reviews of two places you may enjoy:

Happy reading (and eating!)

Geno’s Grille

“If you’re looking for nice place to go for dinner or a home-style Italian meal, Geno’s Grille in Storrs art_genos_pizzaCenter is the place for you. The staff is friendly and welcoming, and makes you feel like a part of Geno’s family. It’s a great place to have a family dinner, go on a date, or even catch the game at the bar. The food is delicious and there is something for everyone. There are many options, and be sure to check out the specials on the chalkboard (the waitstaff might even refer to it as “Geno’s playbook” for the day).

Deciding what to eat is tough because everything sounds so good. The choices range from salads, soups, and sandwiches to pastas, pizza, and entrees. Once you decide, you won’t be disappointed. If you can’t decide, sharing is always an option—portion sizes are pretty large.

Try not to fill up too much on your main course because the dessert menu is equally as good. For dessert, you have to try the Montagna dark chocolate cake. It’s perfect for sharing, but if you are up for a challenge, you can definitely devour it yourself. If chocolate cake isn’t your thing, there are other options, too, like gelato, sorbet, and cannolis!art_genos_chocolatecake

You can check out the player wall, where some UConn Basketball stars have signed. You might even get a chance to see Geno when he hosts his radio show live from the restaurant. This is definitely a good place to check out.”

Reviewed by Erin McMahon ’17 and Jasmine Patel ’16

H.A. Café

“Nestled in Storrs Center across from the CVS, this little restaurant is bringing variety to the UConn Campus. Their menu features sushi, tea, and other Asian street food. The most popular item is the “Husky Bowl,” which includes your choice of sashimi in a rice bowl. There are several other “build your own bowl” options as well as customizable okonomiyaki. This is a great menu for sushi lovers that won’t break the bank.art_huskyBowlandChicken

If sushi isn’t your thing, H.A. Café also has a variety of other dishes, appetizers, and refreshing bubble teas to satisfy your cravings. The extensive tea menu includes over 15 flavors of tea and a variety of bits/boba to add to your drink. The mango iced tea is the most popular—I highly recommend trying it with some added boba!

H.A. Café offers Saturday morning workshops once a month with activities ranging from cooking classes to arts and crafts. This restaurant adds a cultural flair to the UConn cuisine and community.”

Reviewed by Emily Johnson ’16.

“I had the pleasure of dining at H.A. Café in Storrs Center. I had such a wonderful experience at this newart_SpicySalmonRoll restaurant that is near campus and ready to feed the Huskies. The restaurant allows you to take charge of your meal and customize every aspect of it. What I loved most about the cuisine is that it was light, refreshing, and filling; very authentic without much hint of westernization. What is even better about this place is that it’s reasonably priced, so students can enjoy great food without going too deep into their pockets. I definitely recommend this restaurant to everyone!”

Reviewed by Thalia Mangan ’16

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Sandy Hook Survivor and Neag School Alum Holds Book Signing

Jennifer Doak-Mathewson
Jennifer Doak-Mathewson

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12029829_10153197427036765_5653494224026203895_o
Left: Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis ’05 (ED), ’06 MA signs copies of her new book, Choosing Hope. Right: Roig-DeBellis with attendees of her book signing at the UConn Co-Op Bookstore. (Credit: Neag School of Education)

“I live every day wishing I could go back to December 13, back to who I was, who my kids were, back to our school with those who were taken on that day and the life I would have never in a million years have changed,” wrote Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis in her new book Choosing Hope: Moving Forward from Life’s Darkest Hours, published by D.B. Putnam’s Sons. Roig-DeBellis led a conversation and signing for her book at the UConn Co-Op Bookstore on Oct. 21.

Roig-DeBellis, who earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree at UConn’s Neag School of Education, was a first-grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School. She survived the tragic school shooting in December 2012 by hiding with her students in a bathroom. Six fellow staff members and 20 children were killed.

“I decided that if, by sharing my personal story, I could help even one person through his or her darkest hour, then that was what I needed to do. I quickly realized that helping them was healing me,” she said.

“I will bear witness to the trauma my students and I suffered, and, even more significantly, the acts of heroism that day, and the generosity of others that poured into our broken community afterward. I write about my personal experience for the purpose of clarify and perspective. It is that which led me to the path I walk today,” she wrote.

Roig-DeBellis chose not to despair after the tragedy. She chose to hope—and to act, founding a nonprofit, Classes 4 Classes, that promotes kindness, empathy, and giving between classrooms across the country.

 

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UConn Foundation Welcomes Nine New Members

Grace Merritt
Grace Merritt

6 min read

The UConn Foundation’s board of directors recently elected nine new leaders, including the CFO of Nordstrom, a hair-care entrepreneur, and a WNBA star.

The new members also include experts in finance and medicine, bringing a wide range of professional skills to the Foundation, which supports the University through philanthropy and alumni engagement. They join 32 members already on the board along with 10 ex officio members representing the University administration, faculty, student body and alumni.

The board also welcomed long-term board member Dan Toscano ’87 (BUS), a successful financial executive and dedicated alumnus, as its new chairman during the meeting. He replaces Coleman Levy, who completed his two-year term.

The Foundation’s goal is to raise $78 million this fiscal year with a major focus on the Transform Lives scholarship initiative to double the amount raised for student support.

Here’s a quick look at the new members and why they joined the board.

Sue Bird ’02 (CLAS)

Point guard Sue Bird was UConn’s first ever No. 1 draft pick for the WNBA to the Seattle Storm in 2002, the same year she won the Wade Trophy and Naismith Award as College Player of the Year. Bird, of Seattle, Wash., was a key member of two NCAA Championship teams at UConn. 

She went on to win two WNBA championships for the Seattle Storm in 2004 and 2010 and three Olympic gold medals in 2004, 2008, and 2012.

“I’m thrilled and honored to be a member of UConn Foundation’s board of directors and can’t wait to get started. My UConn experience was incredible and I’m looking forward to working with the board to help continue and advance that tradition,” she said.

Leah Darak ’95 MD

Leah Darak, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Connecticut for 20 years, is a partner physician in the statewide ob-gyn practice, Women’s Health Connecticut. She currently has offices in Bridgeport, Trumbull and Shelton. She has been recognized as a Top Doc by Connecticut Magazine six times, most recently in April 2015.

Darak, of Shelton, Conn., received her BA and medical degrees from Boston University and did her postgraduate training in ob-gyn at UConn Health, completing her chief residency in 1995. She is a member of the clinical faculty in the department of ob-gyn at The Frank Netter School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University. She lives in Shelton with her husband, Harold, also a graduate of UConn, and their two sons. All are avid Husky fans.

“I am very excited about this opportunity to work with the UConn Foundation in its efforts to increase support to the University,” Darak said.

Angelo DeFazio ’85 (PHARM)

Angelo DeFazio, who purchased his first pharmacy at age 26, has served as CEO and president of the Arrow Pharmacy Group in Hartford, Conn. since 1989. The Arrow chain today is made up of 5 retail pharmacies, 2 management consulting companies and 1 alternative wellness center. The company has grown with niche business applications, creating and filling needs in institutions, clinics and the general public for positive outcomes.

DeFazio, of Canton, Conn., has advocated legislatively both in the state and the nation’s capital on behalf of pharmacists and patients. He holds numerous community and professional board positions.

“As a first-generation American, higher education was the only avenue towards success available to us. Our public universities are the catapult for this dream. As a UConn alumnus, I feel the responsibility to give back and serve our university, to help fulfill the hopes and dreams of future alumni,” DeFazio said.

Amy Errett ’79 (CLAS)

Amy Errett is a horseback-riding, fly-fishing, black-diamond snowboarding, wine-collecting, San Francisco Giants-loving Californian. She founded Madison Reed in 2014 with years of business and operating expertise as a leading entrepreneur, senior executive, venture capitalist and social-mission visionary. Madison Reed is focused on disrupting the $50 billion hair care industry.

Her multifaceted career has ranged from investing and operating. Errett is a former general partner at the venture capital firm, Maveron, and was previously chief asset gathering officer at E*Trade. Prior to that, Errett founded The Spectrem Group, which she sold to IPG. She is also chair of the board of Glide Foundation and a member of San Francisco’s Barbary Coast chapter of Young Presidents’ Organization, and serves on the boards of Madison Reed, Wharton West, Common Sense Media, and Vacatia. She earned a B.A. in liberal arts from the University of Connecticut and an MBA in finance from the University of Pennsylvania. She is a fanatical UConn Huskies fan. She and her partner live in San Francisco, Calif., with their daughter, Madison Reed.

“I am extremely honored to be joining the University of Connecticut Foundation Board. UConn has been a critical and meaningful part of my life. I received an amazing education at UConn and I am very dedicated to giving back to an institution that has given me so much in my life. I am passionate about the University and look forward to contributing my skills to moving its mission forward,” Errett said.

Mike Koppel ’78 (BUS)

Mike Koppel has served as chief financial officer of Nordstrom since 2001, supporting all facets of the company’s financial operations, including reporting, investor relations, treasury, tax, internal audit, real estate, risk management, strategic sourcing and Nordstrom bank and credit. He is a key advisor for strategic investments and acquisitions made by Nordstrom, including HauteLook and Trunk Club.

Koppel, of Bellevue, Wash., joined Nordstrom in 1999 as corporate controller and principal accounting officer. He has more than 20 years of experience in accounting, financial planning and operations in the retail industry, including May Department Stores and its subsidiaries.

“I’m honored to be a member of the UConn Foundation board and helping to contribute to the future success of our University,” Koppel said.

Joseph E. Parsons ’79 (BUS)

Joseph E. Parsons is a strategic and operational leader with experience starting up and expanding the scale and performance of investment management and structured finance business models. During his 13 years as a corporate officer and subsidiary CEO of the General Electric Co., and record board level/management committee role at Bridgewater Associates, he structured, closed and ran more than $50 billion of acquisitions, mergers, strategic partnerships, private equity investments and high yield debt placements in the retail, healthcare, energy, financial services and internet commerce sectors. Parsons, of Weston, Conn., received a B.S. in finance from UConn and an MBA from the University of Arkansas. He also serves on UConn’s School of Business Dean’s Advisory Board.

“I am excited to join the UConn Foundation Board of Directors,” Parsons said. “I want to see—and be part of—UConn becoming a top 10 public university. I have been supporting the University for many years in various volunteer roles, with the UConn/GE public/private partnership and School of Business Advisory Board of Athletics support as examples. But it requires more from me and from every alumnus. Serving the University as a member of the Foundation Board will allow me to contribute my time and abilities in a much more impactful manner.”

Lori Riiska ’84 (BUS)

Lori Riiska is a certified public accountant and owner of Lori Riiska CPA LLC with offices in Winsted and Canaan, Conn. She has been in business for more than 30 years.

A graduate of the University of Connecticut with a B.S. in accounting, Riiska is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Connecticut Society of Certified Public Accountants, and is chair of the Connecticut Society of CPA’s Peer Review Committee. Riiska is past president of the University of Connecticut Alumni Association, and is chair of the Alumni Relations Committee of the Foundation Board of the University of Connecticut. She also currently serves on the UConn Athletic Club Board. She is a director of the Northwest Community Bank in Winsted, Conn. and is a trustee of the Northwest Connecticut YMCA and The Draper Foundation. She is actively involved with Litchfield County Business Professionals and the Northwest Chamber of Commerce. She is involved with many nonprofit organizations, such as the Rotary Club and United Way. Riiska and her fiancé, John Svetz, live in Winsted. Her two children, Thomas Welcome and Kimberly Fejzo, reside in northwest Connecticut and are also UConn graduates.

“It is a privilege to be part of the UConn Foundation Board. I value working with fellow board members that devote themselves to strengthening and supporting UConn. Working together, we are able to use our individual skills and shared commitment to the University to enhance the University’s mission,” Riiska said.

Anthony Rizza ’87 (BUS)

Upon graduating from UConn, where he was a soccer standout, Anthony Rizza joined Connecticut National Bank, now Bank of America, as an investment analyst in its Trust Division. After working in Hartford for 4 years, he left the bank in 1991 to join Columbus Circle Investors, an institutional investment manager. Initially, he worked as an analyst, then later as a portfolio manager, a position he has held for more than 20 years. He lives in Westport, Conn.

“I’m joining the board to use my experiences as a former student-athlete and a professional to help UConn continue down the path of academic excellence and to further the growth of its already powerful athletic program,” Rizza said.

Michael K. Rosen ’89 (CLAS), ’93 MD

Michael K. Rosen, MD, graduated summa cum laude with a BS in chemistry in 1989 from UConn, where he was also a University and Honors Scholar. He earned his medical degree from University of Connecticut in 1993 and continued his medical training at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York, specializing in anesthesiology. Rosen, of Greenwich, Conn., is currently a senior partner at Northeastern Anesthesia in Westchester, N.Y., where he has served as an active board member for many years.

He became involved with giving back to UConn by starting the Rosen Family Scholarship for Science and Studies Abroad. The scholarship supports students majoring in the physical or life sciences who are participating in study abroad.

“The University of Connecticut gave me such a quality foundation both during my undergraduate years but also during medical school that I feel privileged to have the opportunity to give back as a board member. Being on the board not only gives me an opportunity to be more active in the growth of the University as a whole, but specifically because of my medical background, I can become more involved with the Health Center,” Rosen said.

 

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Manolo Blahnik Sample Sale in West Hartford

Grace Merritt
Grace Merritt

2 min read

Manolo Blahnik Shoes on DisplayDesigner Shoe Sale to Benefit UConn Scholarships

Back by popular demand, another sample sale of Manolo Blahnik shoes, from signature stilettos to fine leather boots, will be held Saturday, Nov. 14 at UConn’s West Hartford campus.

The high-end designer shoes, including many small and large sizes, will be sold for dramatically reduced prices from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on campus at 85 Lawler Road in the UConn School of Social Work to raise scholarship funds for UConn animal science students.

Manolo Blahnik shoes that normally retail for $400 to $2,500 will be sold for $150 to $450 at the sale. There will not just be runway-ready stilettos but a mix of sleek slides, slip-ons and boots as well as a range sizes from size 4.5 to 13. The sale follows a wildly successful sale in August in Bantam that attracted more than 1,000 shoppers.

The money raised will provide financial aid for UConn animal science students interested in dairy production or manufacturing. The fundraiser will help support the UConn Foundation’s ongoing Transform Lives initiative, which aims to double the amount of scholarship aid the foundation raises for UConn students.

George Malkemus and Anthony Yurgaitis, both top executives at Manolo Blahnik, donated the shoes and established the scholarship to help promote agriculture and specifically the dairy industry in Connecticut.

The two businessmen have a passion not only for designer shoes, but for breeding high-end cattle. They bought Arethusa Farm in Litchfield 19 years ago when it went for sale across from their country home in Litchfield and turned it into an award-winning, cow-breeding operation. Four years ago, they launched a dairy and began to sell milk, cheese, yogurt, butter and ice cream.

“The gift from Anthony Yurgaitis and George Malkemus will endow the Arethusa Scholarship for Animal Science students interested in all aspects of dairying, including dairy cattle, milk production and dairy manufacturing, an area of interest in our department with limited scholarship funds,” said Steven Zinn, professor and head of UConn’s Department of Animal Science.

“The scholarship will open doors to a UConn education for the next generation of dairy producers in Connecticut, helping maintain this critical industry in the state,” Zinn said.

Their support comes at a time when the number of commercial dairy farms has steadily declined in Connecticut, from 6,233 in 1940 to 121 in 2014, according to the state Department of Agriculture.

“The number of students seeking a four-year degree in Animal Science with dairy interests has been growing rapidly and scholarship assistance of this type is essential to ensuring that students can afford to pursue their passion,” said Cameron Faustman, professor and associate dean of academic programs for animal science.

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Foundation Mourns Passing of Board Member David Greenfield

Jennifer Doak-Mathewson
Jennifer Doak-Mathewson

< 1 min read

The UConn Foundation is saddened to report that Foundation board member David B. Greenfield ’84 (BUS) has passed away following a health event. He is survived by his wife and three children.

Greenfield had served on the Foundation board since 2013. He was the chief financial officer of the Hanover Insurance Group, Inc., based in Worcester, Mass.

[Hanover Insurance Group’s press release of Greenfield’s passing]

A dedicated alum, mentor, and colleague, Greenfield was also inducted into the UConn School of Business Hall of Fame earlier this year. We invite you to watch his induction video below.

 

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Foundation Ushers in New Board Chair

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Dan Toscano of Darien Pledges To Support UConn’s Mission

“I’m really, really amazed at what has happened over the last couple of years with the board and the foundation. This board is amazing and I couldn’t be more excited,” he said.

Toscano has served on the Foundation board since 2008 and chaired the search committee that brought in new Foundation President and CEO Joshua R. Newton. He has also been a generous donor. He and his wife, Tresa, established two four-year, need-based, full-ride scholarships to UConn’s School of Business.

Newton said Toscano represents the new vision and philosophy of the Foundation to engage alumni.

“He represents the true passion and loyalty that I admire and think will engender others,” Newton said. “Dan’s done it all. He’s shown his involvement, he’s made his investment and now he’s stepping up chairing the board. He’s showing us in the truest sense that this is the model for engagement.”

Toscano replaces Coleman B. Levy ’61, ’62, ’66, a law partner at Hinckley Allen in Hartford, who has led the board for two years. Under Levy’s leadership, the board endorsed a five-year, $150 million fundraising initiative to double the amount of support the Foundation raises for scholarships. In addition, the Foundation had its two best fundraising years in history and successfully integrated the UConn Alumni Association with the Foundation, bringing all institutional advancement activities under one roof.

“Coleman has done an amazing job and we’re incredibly grateful for his leadership, friendship and tireless work on behalf of the foundation and the University,” said UConn President Susan Herbst. “And we could not ask for a better incoming chair than Dan, who is also brilliant, creative, and absolutely committed to ensuring that UConn and the foundation are successful.”

Levy described his successor as a loyal UConn supporter. “He’s dedicated, he’s true blue, he even has a Huskies license plate.”

Originally from Bristol, Toscano graduated from UConn in 1987 with a bachelor of science in finance and earned his MBA from the University of Pennsylvania in 1999. He is currently co-head of global leveraged and acquisition finance at Morgan Stanley and previously, he served in a similar position at HSBC Holdings PLC. Prior to that, he spent most of his career at Bankers Trust Co. and its successor Deutsche Bank.

In addition to engaging students, he said he hopes to raise the public awareness and perception of the Foundation so that it continues to grow. He also wants to make sure the Foundation, the university’s fundraising arm, keeps pace with the University.

“The truth of the matter is it’s really about trying to keep up with the university,” he said, such as the Foundation’s initiative to raise additional funds for student scholarship.

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