June 2016

New Technology Enhances Campus Security

Grace Merritt
Grace Merritt

3 min read

UConn has installed a new technology that can detect gunshots and explosions, notify campus police, map a shooter’s location, and send a live video feed to officers’ cellphones or handheld computers in less than two seconds.

The cutting-edge technology, donated by the UConn alumnus who developed it, is intended to help police respond more quickly in case of a shooting.

The University has not had a problem with shooters, but recognized that the donation could enhance campus security.

Alumnus Robert Hotaling ’01 (ENG) meets with members of the UConn Police
Alumnus Robert Hotaling ’01 (ENG) meets with members of the UConn Police. (UConn Foundation Photo)

“We’re using it to be very proactive,” says Hans Rhynhart, UConn’s interim director of public safety and chief of police. “This is a great opportunity to test a brand new system that has the potential to be really useful to our community.”

The integrated system, developed by New Haven-based security company Verbi Inc., immediately alerts police, as opposed to someone having to call in to report it. “The sooner the police can get there and stop the shooter,” adds Rhynhart, “the sooner they can stop the violence.”

The system, which has been installed on a pilot basis in a select location, is capable of detecting gunshots or explosions indoors within a 250-yard range. It can notify officers in a variety of ways, including text messages, iPad notifications, and text to speech automated phone calls.

When officers receive a notification, they then click to access the camera in the affected zone and receive a live feed of what’s happening there. “It gives them better decision-making information that they didn’t have before,” says Robert Hotaling ’01 (ENG), who donated the system.

Verbi’s representatives say that UConn is one of the first universities in the country to have gunshot detection technology linked to mobile devices.

The system is also capable of sending alerts to students, faculty, and UConn employees with the same fast turnaround time.

photo of the control room at the UConn Public Safety Police and Fire Station
The control room at the UConn Public Safety Police and Fire Station.
(Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

UConn agreed to pilot the technology after Hotaling, the president and CEO of Verbi, offered to donate the equipment. The gift, which includes the gunshot detector, two servers, and video cameras, is valued at $175,000.

The Verbi system can be integrated with all the University’s video surveillance cameras around campus, and can be used to remotely activate video cameras to check out a fire alarm, a medical emergency, or other incident.

The military-grade gunshot detection device uses artificial intelligence to pick up only gunshot and explosion sounds.

Hotaling, who majored in electrical engineering at UConn, developed the mobile-first piece of the system in reaction to the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

“This can impact students’ lives,” he says, “by making them safer during a threat.”

More information about Verbi Security may be found at www.verbiinc.com.

This story was also published in UConn Today.

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Honoring Richard L. Schwab ’79 MA, ’81 Ph.D

UConn Foundation
UConn Foundation

5 min read

by: Stefanie Dion Jones
This article was originally published by the Neag School of Education

Over the course of his time as dean — 14 years in total between 1997 and 2016 — Richard L. Schwab ’79 MA, ’81 Ph.D. has overseen a veritable transformation of the Neag School of Education. A community he affectionately refers to as his “second family,” the Neag School is one that Schwab, who stepped down as dean this past month to return to the faculty, has continually shaped for the better with every passing year.

For one, the Neag School has come to be widely recognized as a premier school of education in recent years, currently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the No. 16 public graduate school of education in the United States. Four of its specialty programs are also ranked today among the top 20 nationally: Special Education, Educational Psychology, Secondary Teacher Education, and Educational Administration.

As the longest-serving dean in the Neag School’s history — and the only alum to have held the position — Schwab has directed the implementation of new University academic vision as well as a new academic vision for the Neag School; recruited a wealth of nationally and internationally renowned experts to its faculty; and seen numerous Neag School alumni and former mentees receive regional and national recognition for their leadership in the field. In 2014, Schwab also established the Dean’s Doctoral Scholars Program, through which the Neag School offers four years of financial support to a selection of promising Ph.D. candidates. This coming fall, the program will welcome its second cohort of scholars, all of whom are dedicated to pursuing research in one or more of the Neag School’s four strategic areas of focus — STEM education; creativity and innovation; educator quality and effectiveness; and social justice.

Perhaps most memorably, Schwab found himself at the helm when the School announced at the state Capitol in 1999 the largest gift ever given to a school of education in the country — $21 million donated by UConn alumnus Raymond Neag ’56, after whom the Neag School takes its name.

Serving as dean for a total of 14 years between 1997 and 2016, Richard L. Schwab is the longest-serving dean in the Neag School’s history — and the only alum to have held the position.

A Spirit of Giving

That spirit of giving seems to have followed Schwab throughout his years as dean. In addition to Raymond Neag’s unprecedented investment, the Neag School has received contributions of more than $17 million — and counting — over the course of Schwab’s tenure, the most money raised under any dean in the School’s history. Support for scholarships has increased dramatically over the course of his tenure as well. Whereas the Neag School awarded roughly $30,000 in scholarship support in 1998, the School today is providing upwards of $1.5 million in scholarship and fellowship aid to its undergraduate and graduate students.

photo of neag school alumni board members
Past and present Neag School Alumni Board members and friends of the School gathered in Hartford, Conn., earlier this month to celebrate with Schwab’s years of service as dean. (Photo Credit: Shawn Kornegay/Neag School)

It is precisely this kind of support that hits particularly close to home for the Neag Endowed Professor of Educational Leadership and former dean.

“I know from personal experience just how meaningful this kind of support is,” Schwab has said. His “second family,” he says, is responsible for providing him with the kind of invaluable opportunities that brought him to where he is today.

The first high school graduate in his family, Schwab himself received funding in the form of a graduate assistantship as part of the educational leadership program during the late ’70s and early ’80s — support that he is quick to credit with enabling him to pursue his chosen career path.

His commitment to education has not ceased in all the years since he was a student; Schwab has dedicated himself to service at the regional, national, and international levels, from serving as a National Commission on Teaching America’s Future commissioner and as a past president of the Council of Academic Deans for Research Education Institutions to working with universities around the world on educational reform issues.

Recognizing Richard Schwab

Colleagues and friends have been eager to pay tribute to Schwab’s years of service. This past spring, for instance, Neag School faculty and staff together contributed in honor of Schwab and Neag School associate deans Casey Cobb and Sandra Chafouleas an additional $3,200 to the Valerie J. Pichette Scholarship Fund — a scholarship that Schwab established this past fall in memory of his late longtime colleague, and which quickly amassed more than $61,000 from friends in and beyond the Neag School.

As three-time Neag School alumnus Desi Nesmith ’01, ’02, ’09 shared at this past year’s Undergraduate Commencement ceremony: “Dean Schwab has truly devoted himself to the Neag School. He has been integral to its success. He sincerely cares about its future. And now, as he concludes his final year as dean, we can look back and know that his superb leadership has, in large part, brought the Neag School to where it is today.”

photo of dean richard schwab and his wife kristin
Former Dean Richard Schwab and his wife, associate professor Kristin Schwab, established the Richard L. and Kristin E. Schwab Fellowship Fund to help support Neag School graduate students.

The Neag School now invites you, too, to consider honoring Schwab’s longtime dedication to the field of education and to help advance the careers of Neag School students — whether through a gift to the fellowship fund established by Schwab and his wife, Kristin, or to another Neag School-affiliated fund.

Examples of funds established in support of the Neag School and its faculty and students include the following:

  • Richard L. and Kristin E. Schwab Fellowship Fund — Established in 2009 to provide financial support in the form of a graduate assistantship to an incoming or continuing graduate student in the Neag School. This past spring, aspiring schoolteacher Alexandria “Lexi” Bodick ’16 (ED) was selected as the fund’s 2016-17 recipient. Give to the Richard L. and Kristin E. Schwab Fellowship Fund here.
  • Helen M. Sherrod Memorial Scholarship — Established this past October by the Sherrod family to provide support for undergraduate students enrolled full time in the Neag School with demonstrated academic achievement and financial need. This memorial fund seeks to honor the legacy of the late Helen M. Sherrod, who served as a third-grade teacher in Bridgeport, Conn., for more than 25 years. The fund is intended to assist students interested in pursuing a degree in teaching at the university level, with the goal of raising $2,500 per year for each scholarship recipient. Contribute to the Helen M. Sherrod Memorial Scholarship here.
  • Neag Alumni Society Endowed Scholarship — Established in 2014 by past and present members of the Neag Alumni Board as well as friends of the Neag School to provide financial support for a student enrolled in the Neag School. Give to the Neag Alumni Society Endowed Scholarship here.
  • Valerie J. Pichette Scholarship Fund — Established in the fall of 2015 in memory of Valerie J. Pichette and her 30 years of service to the state of Connecticut, including her 18 years at the Neag School, where she served as an executive assistant — first with Dean Richard Schwab and later with former Dean Thomas DeFranco. Support a Neag School student with a gift to the Valerie J. Pichette Scholarship Fund.

Find additional Neag School giving opportunities.

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From Homer’s Odyssey to Star Wars: New Reed Fellow to Teach Innovative Course at UConn Waterbury

Tiffany Ventura Thiele
Tiffany Ventura Thiele

3 min read

UConn Waterbury students will have the opportunity to study Greek tragedies – and popular superhero movies – thanks to the David and Joan Reed Faculty Fellowship established by donors David ’55 and Joan Reed.

Roger Travis, associate professor of classics in the Department of Literatures, Cultures & Languages and last year’s winner of the University’s Teaching Innovation Award, will be the second Reed fellow to teach in Waterbury. During a luncheon on May 20, he had the opportunity to meet with the Reeds and Waterbury campus administrators to discuss his classical mythology course, which will be offered in spring 2017.

“The course that I’m going to be teaching in Waterbury is one that I’m very proud of, and one that I think not only teaches students about a key area of the humanities and Western cultural heritage, but also provides a life lesson in how to approach and analyze their experiences with the kinds of stories that we find are so important today,” said Travis.

“Movies like Star Wars and Captain America: Civil War are very important to the way that we think about our culture,” added Travis. “This is a course not only in analyzing Greek tragedy and Homer’s Odyssey, but also in analyzing superhero and science fiction movies as a way of approaching how we’re going to live our lives as citizens of the 21st century.”

The fellowship will also give Travis the opportunity to update video lectures for the course and make all of the texts open source materials for students so that students won’t have to pay high prices for textbooks.

“Traveling to Waterbury means that I can create some unique opportunities for students to do what no students have gotten to do in this course before,” said Travis. “I’ll be designing a special activity for my face-to-face sessions with the Waterbury students, drawing on my research interests in game-based learning. The students will play in teams to portray characters in a story that takes them to ancient Greece, the fantasy of the world of the classical myths and a different version of their own world. Their task in each role-play session will be to display their skill in analyzing classical mythology in its various contexts.”

David and Joan Reed created the fellowship in 2014 to enable outstanding faculty from Storrs to be able to teach in Waterbury and interact both with students as well as with other faculty. David Reed attended UConn Waterbury for two years before transferring to Storrs.

“I attended the Waterbury branch first, so I have an interest in what’s going on there,” said David Reed, who graduated in 1955 from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “Then you add to this the fact that it’s not only about the University, but it’s also about the city of Waterbury. These were the important factors [in creating the fellowship].”

Over the past five years, UConn Waterbury’s enrollment has remained steady at approximately 900 – 1,000 students, according to William Pizzuto, Director of UConn Waterbury. Additionally, the campus continues to grow. Through a partnership with the city and the Waterbury Development Corp., the St. Patrick’s Hall building on East Main Street (known as the Rectory Building) was renovated to include six classrooms, meeting spaces and a large assembly hall. UConn is renting the building from the city and courses are already scheduled for the new classrooms. The city of Waterbury is also considering creating housing downtown with UConn students in mind.

“That would be helpful because you’ll have the students staying down [in Waterbury] at night,” said Joan Reed. “I think that would be a good thing for the city.”

Currently residing in Middlebury, David and Joan Reed were born in Naugatuck and graduated from Naugatuck High School. Their gift was the largest ever received by UConn Waterbury.

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