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Nearly 1,200 UConn students, faculty, and staff rallied at the Hugh S. Greer Field House on Wednesday, Sept. 20, to protest a budget approved by the state legislature that would cut $309 million from UConn’s budget over two years. The unprecedented 30 percent reduction in state funding would lead to closed campuses, higher tuition and fees, fewer majors, and other harmful consequences, University leaders have said.

During the hour-long assembly, participants heard speakers express their fears about the greatly weakened University that would exist after 30 percent of its state funding is cut.

Speaker after speaker warned of the risks to financial aid, academic life, the University’s ability to serve as an economic growth engine for Connecticut, and the national reputation that UConn has won for itself and its state.

Undergraduate Sebastien Kerr ’20 (CLAS) spoke movingly during the rally of how merit scholarships had enabled him to fulfill his dream of attending UConn. Roughly 80 percent of UConn undergraduates receive some form of financial aid, which would be endangered by the budget adopted by the legislature. Kerr warned that would make UConn inaccessible even for some students currently enrolled.

Graduate student Steven Manicastri, president of the graduate student union at UConn, told the rally that the proposed $309 million cut to UConn’s funding would be felt not only in the University, but in the state as a whole. In addition to its ranking as one of the top public universities in the country, UConn is a major factor in Connecticut’s economy, generating more than $3.4 billion a year for the state.

Wrapping up, USG President Irma Valverde ’18 (CLAS, BUS) said, “It’s really important to show our state legislators that we’re not going to be silent. We’re going to come together.”

 


 

Journalist John Quiñones, anchor of ABC’s popular show “What Would You Do?” was the keynote speaker at the Puerto Rican Latin American Cultural Center’s zenith event for Latino Heritage Month on Tuesday, “Illuminating the Path.”

“What Would You Do?” is an American situational television program that establishes everyday scenarios and then captures people’s reactions using hidden cameras. It is one of the highest-rated newsmagazine franchises of recent years.

The child of migrant workers from San Antonio, Texas, he discussed his upbringing and his popular TV show. He told the UConn audience that he grew up engrossed with storytelling and always wanted to become a journalist. He also noted that despite being a fifth-generation American, he has been on the receiving end of considerable anti-immigrant discrimination.

During his 35 year tenure at ABC News, he has also reported extensively for all programs and platforms and served as anchor of “Primetime.”

Latino Heritage Month is celebrated annually from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15.

 


More than 1,400 students got an introduction to UConn’s Learning Communities at a kickoff event at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts on Aug. 27. Just days before, student mentors for First Year Programs & Learning Communities and the Academic Achievement Center participated in training on Aug. 23 and 24.

UConn’s residential Living and Learning Communities help groups of students united by their areas of interest navigate campus and its resources with their peers, and quickly feel at home. More than 40 percent of the incoming class participate in a learning community, as well as hundreds of students beyond the first year.

 


The Class of 2021 makes its debut.

 

 

 


 

AntU Day on July 27, one of the main events of this year’s Bug Week, was an invitation to explore and engage in activities focused on the complex biological systems of army ants and their hundreds of associated species, or ‘guests.’

AntU is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation to the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History and is intended to preserve and curate the University’s collection of 2 million army and guests that resulted from 50 years of fieldwork in Central and South America by the late Professor Carl Rettenmeyer and his wife Marian. The exhibition of specimens from the collection, located in the Biology/Physics Building, opened to the public for the first time in April.

 


The UConn Fire Department’s ability to handle difficult fires, emergencies in high places, and other complex rescue calls is now being greatly enhanced with the addition of a modern ladder truck to its firefighting apparatus.

The new Tower 122 truck was delivered to the University this spring, and went into service July 7 after the necessary practice runs were completed and firefighters were trained in its use. The new vehicle replaces the department’s 1994 truck, which had outlived its 20-year service life and was increasingly out of service in need of costly repairs.

“This purchase was planned out very thoughtfully to meet the needs of the University for another 20 years,” UConn Fire Chief Greg Priest says of the new Rosenbauer truck, which can carry 300 gallons of water in its on-board tank and, when attached to a hydrant, can pump 1,500 gallons per minute.

The purchase comes after a three-year planning process that started with a committee of people from the fire department, motor pool, and elsewhere, who mapped out the attributes a new truck would need to best serve the campus.

UConn Fire Capt. Mitchell Dlubac, an 18-year veteran of the department, headed the committee as it painstakingly reviewed everything from the ideal on-board generator power to the sizes and lengths of the hoses, the aerial’s maximum reach and angles, and other attributes.

Rosenbauer was selected through a competitive bidding process, making UConn one of a growing number of East Coast fire departments to add equipment from that company, which has been producing fire apparatus in Europe for more than a century. The vehicle was built and equipped entirely in the U.S., and replaces the Pierce that had been in service at Storrs since 1994.

Four additional feet might not sound like much, but it could get you to the next window. — Fire Chief Greg Priest

With a 104-foot height when extended, the new truck’s aerial is four feet longer than that of the previous truck, meaning its ladder can reach the highest levels of every residential building on campus, even the notably tall buildings such as the McMahon and Next Gen halls.

“Four additional feet might not sound like much, but it could get you to the next window,” Priest says, adding that there’s also another ladder at the end so people can climb on from windows or roofs without assistance, and can then get to the safety of the bucket even if the firefighters haven’t yet reached them.

The new truck is also slightly shorter in length than the old truck, which makes it much easier to maneuver around corners, near pedestrians and parked cars, and in the many other tight spots around the Storrs campus.

Dlubac says another attractive feature of the Rosenbauer is that its windshield and other replacement parts are not exclusive to that maker, so the University can save time and money by purchasing them from whichever company offers the best value. The last truck needed special replacement parts made only by that manufacturer, which meant the University couldn’t shop around for lower prices.

“This should provide long-term savings, and also help ensure the truck returns to service more quickly, which is a benefit to the University and to everyone that the department serves,” Dlubac says.

The tower truck’s price through competitive bidding was $1.2 million, which is in line with the industry standard for such vehicles. The University also received $50,000 for the trade-in value of the 23-year-old previous tower truck.

The new truck has already received positive reviews from people who’ve spotted it being driven around campus on test runs. Dlubac says many students have stopped to take photos with the truck, or to praise the integration of “UConn blue” and the Husky logo as part of the red truck’s exterior design.

Some of the new tower truck’s benefits are invisible, but profound.

For instance, better insulation in the vehicle’s cab means firefighters will be better able to hear each other and the radio, and less likely to experience the kind of hearing damage that can occur from close proximity to the loud sirens outside.

Some other features include a rear mounting for the aerial tower rather than mounting on the front of the truck, which means the bucket hangs off the front and visibility is better for the driver. The old vehicle had that feature, too, which made training on the new vehicle move along easily and quickly.

The aerial can also be maneuvered to lower its ladder and bucket below grade – a feature the old truck lacked – to help rescue people who may be stuck in low-lying areas due to car crashes, construction accidents, and other emergencies.

The Willimantic Fire Department is the only agency nearby that has a similarly large, well-equipped tower truck. However, it can take 20 minutes for that vehicle to get to campus in an emergency depending on road conditions, including the slower speed at which the heavy truck moves when traveling up Spring Hill on Route 195.

Because of UConn’s proximity to Storrs Center, the UConn Fire Department responds to emergencies at that commercial and residential complex, along with nearby neighborhoods. That means the new tower truck’s attributes benefit not only UConn, but also the Town of Mansfield.

“There are no other resources like this that are directly bordering the University,” Priest said of the new UConn vehicle. “A tower truck is a critical piece of life safety equipment, and when you need it there’s no way to get the desired result with a different type of apparatus.”

 


Hannes Baumann, assistant professor of marine sciences, specializes in research on how fish populations are adapted to natural variability in their environment and how they react to ongoing anthropogenic changes in the oceans and coastal waters. These include changes in pH (ocean acidification) and temperature (global warming), but also man-made alterations to the marine food web (fisheries exploitation) and natural mortality patterns (selection).

This summer, with funding from the National Science Foundation, Baumann and his team are conducting research on seasonal changes in spawning and offspring sensitivity in the Atlantic Silverside (Menidia menidia). The Atlantic Silverside is an inconspicuous but ecologically important fish that spawns in saltwater marshes and comprises one of the most abundant food sources for striped bass, bluefish, yellowtail flounder, and others along the American east coast.

In order to study the sensitivity of the very young fish to low pH and low oxygen, caused by climate change and excess nutrients in the water, the researchers obtain embryos from fish caught in the wild and raise them in the lab. They also produce Silverside offspring in the lab by strip-spawning males and females and then counting the eggs.

Graduate student Chris Murray is studying the sensitivity of offspring to the separate and combined effects of high CO2 and low oxygen. REU student Elle Parks is looking at the effects of CO2 and temperature on the starvation resistance of silverside larvae.

Together with Baumann, graduate student James Harrington is rearing fish in collaboration with colleagues from Cornell University, for purposes of genetic studies. Their goal is to develop an annotated genome of the species, which will assist in understanding the molecular and genetic responses of the organisms to local selection regimes and marine climate change.

 



 


 


 

Students celebrated the Hindu spring festival of Holi on Saturday, April 8. Holi, also known as the “festival of colors” or the “festival of love,” is celebrated in India and Nepal. It signifies the victory of good over evil, the end of winter, and the arrival of spring.