Amphenol, a Connecticut-based Fortune 500 company, has donated $1 million to UConn’s School of Business for scholarships for female accounting students.
“This is the largest single donation of any kind ever made to the Accounting Department,” said George Plesko, chair of the Accounting Department. “It’s going to provide significant and meaningful financial support for our undergraduate accounting students.”
The endowed scholarship will provide a semester’s worth of tuition for four to five exceptional Connecticut students majoring in accounting each year.
Sarah Lawton, a rising senior, was floored when she was notified that she would get one of the first round of scholarships this fall.
“I’m a triplet, so it’s kind of on me to pay for college,” Lawton said. “This is just huge for me. It helps me stress less about taking out loans and focus more on being involved on campus instead of worrying about working.”
Amphenol, a Wallingford-based manufacturer of interconnect products, named the endowed scholarship in honor of UConn alumna Diana Reardon, who was the company’s former chief financial officer. Reardon lost a four-year battle with breast cancer last November.
Amphenol President and CEO R. Adam Norwitt described Reardon ’81 (BUS) as a smart, straightforward leader who served as a role model and mentor for many in the company.
“Diana was one of the most uniquely capable people I have ever met in my whole life,” Norwitt said. “She was just so clear-minded and had such a sense of compassion, but she also had a hard business edge to her. She just had this perfect way of balancing the feeling that she was taking care of you and, at the same time, challenging you.”
Thanks to women like Reardon, more women are entering the accounting field now. But when Reardon first joined Amphenol in the 1980s, it was a rarity, he said.
“Diana was always a woman in a man’s world. She was regularly the only woman in the room at meetings,” Norwitt said. “She was such a strong presence in those environments. She was always in favor of creating opportunities for people.”
Reardon’s daughter, Christina, said the Amphenol scholarship is a beautiful tribute to her mother.
“Providing opportunity for education was important to her,” she said. “She believed that everyone should work hard, but a good education could take that hard work so much further. She was really driven by her work ethic. She would have been so pleased to know that this scholarship will help exceptional female students who share the same values and work ethic.”
Professor Mohamed Hussein, who was Reardon’s advisor when she was at UConn, remembers her as a vivacious, hard-working student.
“She liked to think and was always well-prepared,” Hussein said. “She had one of those personalities that is easy to like and appreciate. Every time she came to my office, she made me laugh.”
Norwitt said he hopes the scholarship will be a great legacy for Reardon and will inspire young women to pursue the kind of professional success Reardon had. He said the $1 million donation is a starting point and he hopes that family, friends, colleagues, and others will continue to donate to the fund. To learn more or donate, go to the Diana Reardon Memorial Scholarship Fund.