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 April 24, 2000

Strategic Plan Capped Jordan's Career of University Service

As an electrical and systems engineer, David Jordan has always had an interest in the intricate interaction of small parts functioning together to make a whole. His approach paid dividends when applied to a system of a different kind.

Jordan's detailed understanding of the inner workings of the University, combined with a vision of what it could become, lie at the heart of his work as coordinator of the University's strategic plan. The plan has set the direction for the University since it was launched in 1995 and will continue to guide the institution for many years to come. Already, many of the plan's goals and objectives have come to fruition.

A Distinguished Record
Jordan's strategic planning work was the culmination of many years of service to the University.

He came to UConn in 1970. In the ensuing 30 years, he has had a lasting influence on the institution through his department and school, the faculty union, the University Senate, as well as through his leadership of the University's strategic planning initiative.

"There are an awful lot of organizational things that go on in a University," says Jordan. From the beginning of his career, he adds, he never minded serving on committees or taking a leadership role: "I consider myself a problem solver."

Since his retirement last year, he has stayed involved in campus life, handling much of the record keeping in the School of Engineering and serving as the school's director of undergraduate admissions.

The long hours of committee work entailed by such commitment does not always garner much recognition, but Jordan was honored last year with the AAUP Excellence in Service Award.

Associate Vice Chancellor Karla Harbin Fox calls Jordan one of the University's "unsung heroes." "No matter how much praise is given for this kind of service," she says, "it can never really reward the sacrifice and personal energy expenditure required for successful completion of the tasks undertaken."

Keith Barker, Director of the Institute for Teaching and Learning and former head of the Computer Science and Engineering Department, knows first hand the contributions Jordan made over the years as department head, assistant dean and special assistant to the dean of the School of Engineering. Barker says Jordan "was a pioneer in curriculum revision and innovation and has never stinted in providing an initial document to start an innovative process and in stimulating his colleagues into new thinking."

Harold D. Brody, professor of metallurgy and materials engineering and a former dean of the School, recalls Jordan's work in obtaining accreditation for the School: "The School's undergraduate teaching laboratories had deteriorated to the point where accreditation was jeopardized and key employers of our students were threatening to recruit elsewhere. David organized a multi-year laboratory upgrade program, with the result that we can be proud of our laboratory teaching. David is recognized as an expert on accreditation processes. We relied on David's expertise and organizational ability."

Wide-Ranging Commitment
Jordan says modestly, "I kind of backed into things," but his service to the department and the school inevitably led to a wider range of commitments. He was a member of the University Senate from 1987 until his retirement, serving on a number of committees, including three years on the Executive Committee. During the same period he was active in the AAUP, becoming president in 1987-88. And from 1987-1990, Jordan chaired the University's Commencement Committee.

Peter Halvorson, professor of geography and chair of the Senate Executive Committee, worked with Jordan on both the Senate and the Commencement Committee. During Jordan's term as chair of the Faculty Standards Committee, the Senate undertook a revision of the promotion and tenure guidelines, an extremely sensitive issue for the faculty.

"He saw that revision through," says Halvorson, "and was scrupulously careful to make sure that the faculty had ample opportunity to express their thoughts."

Halvorson also praises Jordan for taking on the task of updating the University's by-laws. "It was not something that anyone asked him to do," he says, "he pretty much did the job on his own."

He says that is typical of Jordan's attitude: "It's duty above and beyond. He sees that something needs to be done and gets it done."

Halvorson, who is University Marshall, adds that although Commencement may seem to happen each year like clockwork, the event is a year-round job for those on the Commencement Committee. Revising the format and the ceremonies if needed, planning the staging, arranging logistics for speakers, hiring photographers and lining up volunteers are just a few of the duties of the committee. Like other kinds of University service, it is work that goes unseen and unsung, Halvorson says: "You get nothing but headaches for doing it."

Shaping the Direction
But widely recognized as Jordan's most outstanding contribution was his role in developing the University's strategic plan, the comprehensive plan that has shaped the University's direction during the past five years. What's more, many believe that the state legislature would not have approved UConn 2000, the 10-year $1 billion program to renew and rebuild the University, without knowing that there was sound, long-range planning underlying it.

Initially, says Jordan, he took on the role of strategic planning coordinator for a year, but the term stretched to two, as the complexity of the task grew. At the same time, Jordan served as vice-chairman of the Strategic Planning Management Committee, headed by University Trustee Bill Berkley.

Louise Berry, a Trustee who also served on that committee, says, "Although there were many dedicated individuals who worked to create this plan, David Jordan stands out in my mind as the one person who was able to motivate and challenge all of us to understand what the University could become."

Jordan is also committed to service beyond the University. "Everyone has a responsibility to give back to the community," he says. He has served on the Boards of Finance and Education and the Planning and Zoning Commission in the town of Willington, where he lives, and was instrumental in the town's choosing to send its students to E.O. Smith High School in Storrs. His wife Carol served as Willington's town treasurer for many years.

"For fun," David plays the clarinet in a band in Willimantic and he and Carol sing in the choir of the Storrs Congregational Church.

Diane Cox