UConn, Burton mend their differences
Apparently UConn and longtime donor Robert Burton have put their differences aside following a meeting between UConn officials and the Burton family on Wednesday.
Burton, as you might remember, asked for a $3 million donation be returned and asked to have his name removed from the Burton Family Football Complex because he was unhappy with the process that led to football coach Randy Edsall’s depature to Maryland and the hiring of new coach Paul Pasqualoni.
Following is a release earlier Friday from the university spokesman Michael Kirk:
The University of Connecticut, longtime UConn donor Robert G. Burton, Sr. and his family have agreed to move past their differences and continue their longstanding relationship, according to UConn Board of Trustees Chairman Larry McHugh. McHugh previously said he intended to meet with the family, which he and board Vice Chair Tom Ritter did on Feb. 9.
Citing the Burton family’s past generosity and commitment to the University of Connecticut, McHugh stated: “The time spent with the Burtons confirmed my suspicion that they continue to possess a deep reservoir of love and respect for our University despite the frustration and disappointment they felt with the process used in hiring our new football head coach. The Burton family has been very generous to the university with their time, energy and resources. I felt that it was important to pay a visit to them and have a dialogue. I am very pleased that in a very short period of time he and his family were able to reconnect with UConn, recognizing all the good UConn does for its students and our state. The UConn community is grateful for all of the contributions the Burton family has made to enhance our academic and athletic programs and the support they have provided to so many UConn students.
Board Vice Chair Ritter stated: “Upon meeting the Burtons, it was clear that the family members were upset about their recent estrangement from the university with which they had enjoyed a long and meaningful relationship. I began to wonder how I would feel if I was ever estranged from the University--I certainly would hope that someone would reach out to me. We talked about his humble beginnings and his remarkable success in building and managing multiple NYSE manufacturing operations, including the current $2 billion printing business. All of us associated with UConn want to be heard and respected. While I understand that feeling disrespected often engenders an emotional response, it is gratifying that the Burton family has welcomed our overture and is re-embracing the University.”
Robert G. Burton, Sr. stated: “I was very pleased that Larry and Tom reached out to my family and me. I think we had very good discussions. I also want to acknowledge Phil Austin, as well as incoming President Susan Herbst who also reached out to me and let her know that the Burton family looks forward to her successful tenure leading UConn. What I am sure they found was a family that is committed to UConn and wanted to reestablish the relationship that has been beneficial both to UConn and to the Burton family. Unfortunately, my unmet expectations and displeasure with the process used to select the football coach left my family and me upset. This expectation was based upon various times during the past 12 years where my family and I were consulted on a number of issues related to the football program as UConn moved from a 1AA school to a 1A BCS Bowl participant. But I have been reflecting on it and came to the conclusion that I’m not going to let one experience change the relationship my family and I have with UConn. We love the university, we’re proud of our association with it and it is going to continue.”
UConn President Philip Austin stated: “I’m pleased those involved were able to get together to discuss this and work it out. Our donors are vitally important to the university and I would have been disappointed to have seen this relationship permanently soured.”