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Alum's $23 million gift makes history
March 1, 1999

A University of Connecticut alumnus who grew up in Torrington, in modest circumstances, is giving his alma mater a gift of $23 million, including $21 million for the School of Education and $2 million for the Health Center.

Gift press conference

Raymond Neag, Class of '56, receives applause from Dean of Education Richard Schwab, Health Center Chancellor Leslie Cutler, Chancellor Mark Emmert, and trustee Louise Berry during a press conference Thursday, February 25, at which he announced a gift of $23 million to the University.

Photo by Peter Morenus

The contribution from Raymond Neag, '56, of Reading, Pa., is the largest gift ever given to a School of Education in the nation. The gift is also the largest to a public university in New England and the largest in UConn history. The total value of the gift, with additional funds from the state's endowment matching grant program, is approximately $27.4 million.

"This is a strategic investment. I made this decision after careful consideration about how to leverage my assets for the greatest public benefit. I made this gift now because of the dramatic transformation occurring at the University of Connecticut and because of my confidence in UConn's leadership," Neag said. "Education made a big difference in my life, and I saw this gift as an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of thousands of school children in Connecticut and the nation."

The Board of Trustees is expected to commemorate the gift by voting in April to rename the School of Education as the Neag School of Education, making this the first named school at the University.

The University contacted Neag in 1995 as a result of a conversation he had over Thanksgiving dinner with his niece, Sally Reis, a professor of educational psychology. Since then, Neag has donated funds for an endowed chair in the School of Education's Gifted and Talented Program, now held by Professor Joseph Renzulli, and for the Lynn Wood Neag Distinguished Visiting Professor of British Literature in memory of his wife.

"Private investment is critical to UConn's ongoing transformation into one of the best public research universities in the nation. This gift will help move the School of Education from among the top 40 nationally to the top 10 and will have a direct impact on school children, teachers and educational programs in Connecticut and in the nation," said President Philip E. Austin.

The portion of the gift for the School of Education will be used to support two nationally recognized centers of excellence, including the Neag Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development and the five-year teacher education program. It will also be used to build new centers of excellence in such areas as early childhood education, urban education, at-risk students, educational technology, and literacy, by hiring internationally recognized scholars and teachers to fill endowed chairs, and for scholarships for high-achieving students, especially minority students, who seek to become educators.

In addition, the gift will be used to build and extend outreach programs for teachers and administrators in Connecticut schools and to recruit high-achieving graduate students nationally and internationally. The school is ranked 37th among 1,200 schools of education in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

Funds for the Health Center will be used for a distinguished chair in the School of Medicine that will enable the school to recruit an outstanding new faculty member who will develop or enhance a major research and clinical program.

Raymond Neag and Gov. John Rowland

Raymond Neag, left, and Gov. John Rowland spend a quiet moment in the Governor's office at the State Capital before meeting with the media to announce the gift to UConn.

Photo by Peter Morenus

"Gifts such as this one supplement the state's investment in UConn. This demonstrates that the jump-start provided by UConn 2000 works by creating public-private partnerships. On behalf of the state of Connecticut, I thank Mr. Neag," said Gov. John G. Rowland. "All of this is about the next generation, and the next, and the next one after that."

In 1975, Neag was one of four founders of Arrow International Inc. in Reading, Pa. He has been an officer and director of the company ever since. In January, he was named vice chairman of the company, which develops, manufactures, and markets worldwide innovative clinically advanced and cost-effective medical devices.

A member of the University of Connecticut Foundation Board of Directors, Neag is also a member of the Chancellor's Executive Roundtable for the UConn Health Center. He is a director of the Burn Prevention Foundation in Allentown, Penn.; director of the Foundation for Reading Public Museum; a director of the Episcopal House; trustee of St. Joseph's Hospital; director, Arrow Precision Products; director, Reading Technologies; director, Children's Home of Reading; and a past director of the American Red Cross, all in Reading; and director, United Way of Berks County.

Neag received a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Connecticut in 1956, a bachelor's of foreign trade from the American Graduate School of International Management, and is a graduate of the advanced management program at Harvard University.

Karen Grava