UConn: Contract Storrs – expand Avery Point

The taxpayers have no more to give, and UConn’s fix is to abandon satellite campuses and continue to throw good money after bad into the cow pasture that is Storrs. It’s a longstanding and insensible trend. Why so much investment in Storrs and so little in regional campuses? Easy: UConn’s administration is every bit as inattentive to serving the interests of Connecticut’s citizenry as the political regime that bankrupted the richest state in the union. UConn has highly qualified faculty and attracts a talented student body, but its geography is endearing only to agrarians.

Storrs is named after two Mansfield farm boys that went to NYC, made their fortune and nostalgically returned to their quiet corner farmstead. They were saddened to see how the farmers would leave their farms and move to the cities, so they decided to endow a school to teach better farming skills and encourage farmers to stay on their farms. They used their New York-earned money to acquire acreage, and created the Storrs Agricultural School, amidst idyllic farm fields and cows. Their legacy has taken a peculiar twist of fate, as UConn has spotty luck with retaining its alumni or administration, who not unlike the Storrs brothers, migrate away from cow country to more vibrant settings in cities. They abandon Storrs to pursue employment within thriving academic and intellectual enterprises, immersed in arts and culture and money to be made. Think Pfizer, GE, Aetna, Boston, New York, you got it. Our cities have arts and culture aplenty, but our governance has done away with the money.

Connecticut became the richest state because of Yankee ingenuity and the industrial concentrations they made happen. The Brass and Hardware Cities may not be the same, but surrounding Avery Point we have Electric Boat, Subase New London, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and R&D Center, Tall Ships, Thames Shipyard & Repair Co., Mystic Seaport Shipyard, boatyards galore. We have a fishing fleet for finfish and shellfish including people smart enough to study and protect the God’s gift that are our coastal waters, bringing back shellfish beds no less! We have a marine concentration extraordinaire. Though EB is the big economic engine, all of the aforementioned bring dollars from outside our borders, make available respectable work to skilled people and offer upward mobility.

So, UConn high command, best rethink closing Avery Point. Duh! What if Avery Point provided expanded coursework in support of southeastern Connecticut’s marine concentration? Along the lines of open to the public coursework in marine trades, manufacturing processes, Naval architecture, Marine and Ocean engineering; initiating with technology and culminating with undergraduate and graduate offerings. Locally invested with adjunct faculty that are the real deal, having firsthand, real-world experience. How much might this workforce development enrich our marine concentration? This rising tide would surely lift all boats.

UConn has invested billions of taxpayer dollars into the Storrs campus — what if that money had instead been spent to embed campuses in the midst of appropriate economic and academic concentrations? How much permanence would have been gained in the making of New Age Connecticut Yankees, restoring and reinvigorating Connecticut’s economic future.

Avery Point is the ultimate place to begin the renewal of UConn as a provider of public education and to end the taxpayer-subsidized brain drain to foreign cities. We offer a great place to settle down, plenty of culture, and opportunity galore. Bring in smart ambitious young folks and remember our state's founding principle, "Qui Transtulit Sustinet" – let them stay and prosper.

Joe Camean resides in Old Lyme.

 

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