October 2018

UConn Foundation Board Names New Chairman

UConn Foundation
UConn Foundation

2 min read

Corporate leader John Malfettone was gaveled in as chairman of the UConn Foundation’s board of directors Oct. 25 and is poised to build on the Foundation’s record-breaking fundraising effort, which raised $82 million in FY18, the largest in the Foundation’s history.

Malfettone, a highly engaged alum who has served on the board for eight years, is looking forward to leading the critical work of fundraising for student scholarships, research, and professorships for the state’s flagship university.

Last year, the Foundation had a banner year, raising 15 percent more than in FY17 and increasing its donor count to 22,260. A full $22.3 million was raised for scholarships alone.

“We need to build on this tremendous momentum”

“We need to build on this tremendous momentum,” Malfettone said. He said his goal is to increase the level of principal giving overall to UConn and hopes to further engage residents in the Fairfield County region.

“The generosity of our donors is absolutely vital to UConn and our ability to build and maintain excellence in the future,” UConn President Susan Herbst said. “John is an outstanding leader and I look forward to working closely with him in the months ahead.”

Malfettone replaces Dan Toscano ’87, a financial executive at Morgan Stanley who led the board for three years.

“We can’t thank Dan enough for his leadership. He has presided over the best three-year period in the Foundation’s history,” said John Fodor ’85, interim president and CEO of the UConn Foundation. “And we are so lucky to have John. His business acumen along with his love of UConn and institutional knowledge will be great assets.”

Malfettone is currently senior managing director and chief compliance officer at Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, a private equity company in New York City, and is retiring at the end of the year. He previously was a partner at KPMG and served in senior management roles at Oak Hill Capital Partners and GE Capital.

Malfettone currently serves on the board’s finance and audit committees and has hosted several fundraisers for the University at his home. He has also been a generous donor, supporting athletics and the business school and establishing the Malfettone Family Scholarship. He and his wife, Rina Malfettone ’78, live in Trumbull and have five adult children and two grandchildren.

In addition to ushering in a new chairman, the board welcomed Steven M. Greenspan, of West Hartford, as a new member. Greenspan, who graduated from the UConn School of Law in 1985, is vice president and chief litigation counsel for United Technologies Corp. and a trustee of The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts.

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Jorgensen Patrons love Chamber Music, the Cello, and Each Other

UConn Foundation
UConn Foundation

4 min read

He was born in Budapest and she in Bridgeport, Conn.

At age 9, she was drawn to classical music and began piano lessons. At age 9, he was finally deemed big enough by his parents to start cello lessons. An ocean apart, their passion for classical music, encouraged by their parents, began at the same age.

World War II and the turbulent Russian years in Budapest interrupted John’s cello training, but not his school years. He earned his degree in engineering from Budapest University of Technology and Economics. After the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, he left Hungary and came to the United States.

They met in New Haven on a fall, New England day in the early 1960s. Jean was a graduate student at Yale University in biochemistry. John was an engineer in New Haven. A mutual friend, who emigrated at the same time, set them up on a blind date on Oct. 23, the anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.

Even though sparks didn’t fly right away, their matchmaker friend knew they both loved music, especially chamber music, and would enjoy each other’s company. After that date, they would play music together in the dorm where Jean lived with Jean on the piano and John, the cello. The courtship continued even after Jean graduated from Yale and went to Paris as a postdoctoral fellow in 1963. John, ’61 MS, joined Jean in Paris in 1964 where they were married.

When they returned from Paris, they settled in New York City. Jean got an appointment at the Rockefeller University and John at an engineering consulting firm. Starting their careers, they did not have time to play music, but took advantage of the many concerts offered in the city.

After six years, they left New York and settled in Storrs. Jean joined the faculty at UConn, eventually becoming a professor of molecular and cell biology. John started his own engineering firm. As they settled into their new environment, their passion for music and live performances were more than satisfied thanks to the wonderful programs at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts.

“When we came here, we immediately went to all of the concerts we could,” says Jean. “Jorgensen became a part of our lives: we love Jorgensen. It’s been fantastic for us.”

As they continued to enjoy concerts, the Lenards were pragmatic but optimistic in their thinking about chamber music concerts at Jorgensen.

“While the chamber music audience is small, as it relates to the general population, the number of conservatories and young people specializing in classical music has grown,” says John. “Classical music is not passé, but the economic structure of these events has changed. To stage these events, additional funds are needed. For this reason, Jean and I decided to give a donation to create a series and keep chamber music concerts at UConn for the foreseeable future. We hope others will join us and contribute to keep this type of music going.”

The benefits of their gift go beyond offering enjoyment to self-described chamber music fanatics like John and Jean. Because UConn students can attend the chamber music series for free, it gives them the opportunity to “get acquainted with the richness of classical music,” John says. Jean believes some students, especially those in the fine arts, might want to attend, but can’t afford it. It’s an incentive for them to go and hear very good chamber music.

John thoughtfully shares yet another way in which their gift will help chamber music thrive. The passion of talented students might dim if they don’t have venues to perform and show their talent. “Musicians have to make a living. If more schools do this, students who understand the fantastic beauty of chamber music will have a place to work.”

It’s easy for Jean and John to explain the specific allure of chamber music. “We like the individual artistry,” says John. “An orchestra is beautiful but is very different from chamber music. A conductor interprets and directs the music that is played by the members of the orchestra.”

From their introduction at Yale to today, the Lenards’ passion for chamber music and particularly the cello remains strong. It’s been enhanced by Jorgensen and their personal connection to the cello. John had played on and off since he was a child and Jean began taking lessons after she retired as a professor. “I grabbed John’s old cello, which had been sitting in my office for years and was in a state of disrepair, and had it fixed,” says Jean.

After she started taking lessons and was playing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ at home, John proclaimed, “I want my cello back! Get your own!”

So, Jean gave back his cello—the one she reminds John that she had had fixed up—and bought her own. And with that purchase, peace…and yes, harmony, were maintained

Reflecting on life, music, and their gift, John opines, “Music is an integral part of life, it is a form of communication, and there is a need to understand and enjoy the beauty of this language. We hope that the program we endowed will ensure that students are not deprived of this beautiful music. This University should provide classical music, particularly chamber music, as a necessity of a good education.”

Support the Lenard Chamber Music Endowment

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Navigating Rough Waters

UConn Foundation
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5 min read

Each year, UConn students have the opportunity to participate on the Connect & Challenge Wellness Retreat, a two-day excursion designed to give students the resources they need to overcome the challenges of college life.

The retreat is one of many mental health programs supported by the Parents Fund at UConn.

Justina Petrullo ‘20 is currently a junior studying Mind, Body, and Health

A trip to the Berkshires for the weekend with no electronics might not seem like a popular excursion for a bunch of college students. However, that is exactly what the Challenge and Connect Retreat, hosted by Counseling and Mental Health Services (CMHS) and UConn Recreation (UConn Rec) provides UConn undergraduates. The retreat connects students to nature, to others, and to themselves through outdoor adventure challenges and reflective activities.

Even though Fall 2018 is my first semester at UConn, it is my fifth semester as a college student. Coming from rural New Jersey to rural Connecticut, I was excited by the opportunity to connect to nature and myself in my new home. I am in the process of creating an individualized major called Mind, Body, and Health, and I was especially eager to use this trip as a way to investigate the correlations among these aspects of myself and my peers at UConn. I wanted to make new friends and connections as a transfer student while exploring the forest, one of my favorite activities. Challenges such as whitewater rafting and less obvious ones like trying not to miss my cellphone were added bonuses and opportunities for reflection.

CMHS and UConn Rec provided students with a pre-trip meeting that outlined some of the activities planned and gave participants a chance to meet and get to know one another. We discussed aspects of the trip that we felt would be challenging and those that would be exciting and fun. Some of these aspects looked the same to us, and some looked different, but we knew there wasn’t any one person who didn’t have any challenges awaiting them.

Many participants, including myself, were there to make new friends, experience nature, and try something new. One girl was from Taiwan and had never tried a s’more before (she loves them now!). One was a rower from Massachusetts who studies engineering. Another was from Connecticut, deciding what to study and eager to get to know everyone. I saw qualities in them that I saw in myself, but I also heard about new ideas and experiences that I had never considered. Despite this, or perhaps because of this, we became close and filled practically every minute with conversation and laughter.

From gathering at the meeting place the day of departure to heading back to our dorms two days later, all of the participants, including the facilitators, supported and encouraged each other in everything we did. We had tasks, such as sharing a story of empowerment, examining and writing about what the words challenge and connect meant to us, and designing a nameplate for ourselves. We shared our stories of empowerment around a campfire, wrote in journals that accompanied us on walks to a nearby river and the cabins we stayed in, and gave our nameplates to a stranger who would become a friend by the end of the weekend.

Both nights in the Berkshires consisted of campfires, delicious food, good company, and activities such as coloring, basket making, and team-building riddles. Sleeping in a cabin brought me back to the peace, quiet, and darkness that isn’t usually found on college campuses. Waking up soon after the sun for a hike energized me in a way that waking up for school never did. Some activities, such as hiking and meeting new people, were within my comfort zone and were things I didn’t think twice about. However, one activity in particular did make me think twice—whitewater rafting. I wasn’t the only one who was getting in a river raft for the first time. Most of my friends and cabin mates were also new to the rapids. This made it easier for me to get on the raft and gave me the resolve to actually participate in the experience.

Being at the mercy of the river, I thought of how fitting a metaphor it was for life. As a participant in life, a college student, a parent, an educator, and a person, you try to prepare as much as you can for what comes your way. I did the same by wearing a wetsuit, a fleece, a helmet, a life jacket, and wielding a paddle to help push myself through the rough spots. I got in a rubber raft with my peers and two facilitators, all of us wearing the same gear and ready to safely and enjoyably make our way down the river. Our guide warned us of potential dangers and told us what to do and where to go, while we worked as a team to get from the rough sections of rapids to the calm inlets to rest. As we went from calm waters to swift and choppy rapids, it became more difficult to paddle. We could cringe and hold on to the rope for dear life, like I wanted to do, or we could envision ourselves as floating leaves on a stream, calm but also doing our best to paddle through rather than constantly worrying about falling off. School put a barrier between us in terms of “teacher” and “student,” but we all had to equally work together and paddle hard that day.

That experience of whitewater rafting was the most memorable activity that I brought back to school with me. It meant that I did something scary, loved it, and learned that control is an illusion; all you can do is breathe, do the best you can, and try to enjoy each moment. So, when I’m taking an exam, or in a crowded dining hall full of people I don’t know, I remember to breathe, relax, and float on with a positive attitude, knowing everyone is in the same boat. And if we happen to fall out, my fellow participants (now friends) and I know that CMHS and UConn Rec are there to throw us a rope and pull us back in, helping us to forge ahead.

Gifts to the Parents Fund support activities that enhance the UConn education and experience for students. Through the Parents Fund, the Division of Student Affairs works to enrich students’ experiences through supporting student health and well-being, celebrating our diverse environment, and building a brighter future for our local, national, and international communities.

Give to the Parents Fund at UConn

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UConn Names Diane Burgess to Pfizer Pharmaceutical Chair

UConn Foundation
UConn Foundation

2 min read

UConn announced the appointment of Diane J. Burgess to a five-year term as the Pfizer Distinguished Chair in Pharmaceutical Technology. The Board of Trustees were unanimous in their support of Burgess, a preeminent pharmacology researcher and educator.

Burgess, who has generated $21 million in extramural funding and federal grants, is recognized internationally for her leadership in the development of novel pharmaceutical technologies and the improvement of formulation and delivery of small-molecule and biological drugs.

“Dr. Burgess has outstanding credentials as a scholar, educator, and leader,” said James Halpert, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “She is recognized internationally as a pre-eminent scientist in the area of pharmaceutics, where her emphasis has been on the development of novel pharmaceutical technologies and improvement of formulation and delivery of small-molecule and biological drugs, as well as modernization of pharmaceutical manufacturing.”

Pfizer, Inc. established the Pfizer Endowed Chair in Pharmaceutical Technology in 2004 with a gift to support advances in the field. The late Michael J. Pikal was the first chair holder.

“I am thrilled and honored to be the second Pfizer Distinguished Chair of Pharmaceutical Technology,” said Burgess. “This endowed chair is extremely prestigious and will allow me to help grow research and promote teaching in pharmaceutical technology, thereby ensuring that our School remains at the forefront of this field. It will also be fun to work with Pfizer colleagues on workshops and other teaching activities, as well as continue old and start new research endeavors.”

Burgess joined the UConn School of Pharmacy in 1993 as an associate professor and was promoted to professor in 1999. In 2009, she was appointed the University’s highest honorary title of Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor.

Among her notable accolades, Burgess earned the 2011 recipient of the Nagai APST Japan International Woman Scientist Award and the 2014 Research Achievement Award from the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS). That same year she received the AAPS Outstanding Educator Award in recognition of her training record. She has served as president of AAPS and president of the Controlled Release Society. Burgess has also served as editor of three major journals.

To date, Burgess has trained 37 Ph.D. students, 18 post-doctoral fellows, seven visiting research fellows, and five master’s degree candidates.

In recognition of her overall contributions in pharmaceutical technology, Burgess holds appointments at two top universities for pharmaceutical sciences in China: Peking University Health Sciences in Beijing and Fudan University in Shanghai.

 

Image of Diane Burgess is available at https://today.uconn.edu/school-stories/diane-burgess-appointed-pfizer-endowed-chair-pharmaceutical-technology/.

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