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Recent donor visits leave Austin optimistic

President Philip Austin reported to the University Senate Monday that he is encouraged by visits he made during the summer with potential donors regarding their willingness to provide financial support for University scholarships and endowed professorships.

Speaking at the first Senate meeting of the fall semester, Austin said he and Edward Allenby, vice president for institutional advancement, spent "10 or 12 days around the state this summer, meeting with people who heretofore have not had a deep interest in the University but are developing an interest with selective programs or the University at large."

Austin also said he is more optimistic now than he was last spring regarding the appetite of these potential donors to be persuaded to become involved, "not only in terms of helping us change the perception of the University of Connecticut as the state research university, but also in helping make us the institution of choice among the high school graduates of the state who have the highest intellectual potential."

As important as their help in changing perceptions and aiding student recruitment, "is their willingness to endow distinguished professorships and create scholarship programs," Austin said.

He said such support would allow UConn to be true "to our philosophical tradition ... that we must never price ourselves out of the market for students of intellectual competitiveness." Austin said he hopes that some time within the next year, "we will, with comfort, be able to announce the establishment of a very substantial capital campaign."

Austin also reported on the status of UConn's potential upgrade to Division I-A football, stating that "in spite of much rhetoric and many meetings....very little has changed in a meaningful way since last spring." (Editor's note: a story on the status of the Division I-A issue is scheduled for the September 19 issue of the Advance.) He also said he would meet with federal officials next week in Washington, D.C., to continue to seek a solution to the potential loss of federal funding due to laws banning military recruiters from some UConn campuses. (See story on federal funds.)

As required by the University's laws am by-laws, Austin brought the first Senate meeting of the academic year to order and presided over the election of a moderator. David Palmer, professor of management, was elected moderator, succeeding Harry Johnson, who retired last spring; and Thomas Suits, professor of classics, was elected Senate secretary. Before the meeting, an orientation session was held for new members of the Senate.

Mark J. Roy