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March 14, 2005

Governor Proposes Expanding
Board of Trustees

Gov. M. Jodi Rell has proposed expanding the University’s Board of Trustees by two members to include the Commissioner of Economic and Community Development and the chair of the Board of Directors of the UConn Health Center.

If approved by the Legislature, the change would bring the number of trustees to 21, including two elected alumni trustees, two elected student trustees, and three commissioners – agriculture, education, and economic and community development – who serve because of their positions. The rest are appointed by the governor, who serves as president of the board.

“Including the Commissioner of Economic and Comunity Development will ensure that there will be a permanent liaison to the board to call attention to workforce issues,” Rell said. “Having the Health Center chair as a member will ensure that the two boards are in concert.”

The Commissioner of Economic and Community Development, James Abromaitis, a UConn alumnus, is already on the board but not by virtue of his position. He was appointed by Gov. John Rowland as one of the governor’s regular appointees before he became commissioner.

The chair of the Health Center Board of Directors is Claire Leonardi.

Rell’s proposal also calls for forgiving student loans for graduates of public colleges who enter the state’s workforce in certain key careers – nursing, information technology, and teaching in a subject area where there is a shortage.

“My bill encourages our young people to enter fields facing a shortage of workers,” she said. “Connecticut desperately needs more young people to enter nursing and information technology programs. We also face shortages in some subject areas in our classrooms.”

The student loan forgiveness program would provide graduates newly employed in these fields with up to $10,000 for loan payments over the course of five years. The proposed budget would allocate $3 million to the program over the biennium, to be administered by the Department of Higher Education.

“Connecticut cannot afford to maintain worker shortages in critical areas such as education, technology, and health care,” Rell said. “By offering to forgive student loans for those entering these fields, we provide yet another avenue to saving money and increasing our numbers in vital segments of our workforce. Filling those jobs is a significant part of my jobs initiative.”