Welcome Back from President Herbst

To Faculty, Staff, and Students:

For those of you returning to campus this week from the winter break: welcome back! I hope that you had a wonderful holiday.

The year ahead promises to be an exciting and rewarding one for UConn. Let me mention just a few of the reasons:

  • Our first comprehensive academic plan will be presented this spring – a plan that will guide the University for years to come. A core group of faculty has been working on this project for nearly a year, with broad representation from across the University. This plan is much more than a “to do” list; it is the blueprint that will build the best possible international research university for us – and for future generations. I am so grateful to the faculty members who have made such strong contributions during this process.
  • A long-term master plan for the Storrs campus will be completed this year. This too will be an essential roadmap, as our facilities and infrastructure grow and evolve over decades. We must ensure that the campus is built in a truly strategic way with regard to our academic needs, housing, sustainability, way-finding, and architectural excellence. We are the stewards of this precious Connecticut landscape, and it is a responsibility we are honored to have.
  • Thanks to Governor Malloy and the General Assembly, BioScience Connecticut will reach the next level of implementation. One aspect of this project, designed to enhance patient care and make UConn one of the most prominent institutions for translational medicine, is our work with key research partners. In 2014, we will celebrate the opening of the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine. Our outstanding relationship with Jackson Labs is central to the biomedical sciences, and our goal is to tailor effective genetically-based medical treatments directly to individual patients.
  • And of special note from our students: on Feb. 15, the annual HuskyThon 18-hour charitable dance marathon will take place in the Field House. Last year, UConn students raised nearly $350,000 for our key pediatrics partner, the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. This year they are aiming even higher. I am incredibly proud of our students for organizing and participating in this fantastic event to benefit a good cause. I hope to dance with you there!

I also write today to announce three speakers who will appear on campus this semester. All three will appear at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts.

  • On March 3, Art Spiegelman, underground cartoonist, author, and New Yorker staff artist, who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his brilliant Holocaust narrative Maus, will join us. In 1980, Spiegelman founded RAW, the acclaimed avant-garde comics magazine, with his wife, Françoise Mouly. In 2004, he completed a two-year cycle of broadsheet-sized color comics pages, In the Shadow of No Towers, about Sept. 11. He is without question one of the most compelling and original observers of American culture, someone you will never forget. If you are unfamiliar with his work, you may have seen him elsewhere already: he played himself in an episode of The Simpsons (“Husbands and Knives,” Season 19). Tickets will be free.
  • On April 9, Richard Dawkins, world-renowned evolutionary biologist, will appear as part of the President’s Distinguished Lecture Series. Dawkins held the Charles Simonyi Chair at Oxford University. His first book, The Selfish Gene, was an instant international bestseller, and has become an established classic work of modern evolutionary biology. He is also a well-known proponent of secularism; the stated mission of the Richard Dawkins Foundation is “…to support scientific education, critical thinking, and evidence-based understanding of the natural world in the quest to overcome religious fundamentalism, superstition, intolerance, and human suffering.” Tickets will be free.
  • Finally, on April 23, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Former U.S. Secretary of State and Former U.S. Senator from New York, will deliver remarks and participate in a question-and-answer session at the Jorgensen for this year’s Edmund Fusco Contemporary Issues Forum.
    The program is sponsored by the Fusco family and each year it brings scholars, leaders, and policy-makers to UConn to share their knowledge and perspectives with the community. The event will be open to UConn students, faculty and staff from the Storrs and regional campuses and the School of Law. More information will be available closer to the event date.

I urge you to save the dates for all three speakers.

Please keep finding me with your ideas and suggestions, as you have – with vigor – these past three years! This is what helps us to grow and change as a university community.

Finally: my deepest thanks to our staff, who keep this campus running so well, no matter the weather or where we are on the academic calendar.  I could not be more grateful for what you do for our university and for this state.

All the best for a happy and successful semester,

Susan Herbst
University of Connecticut