Honoring Dr. Coan

The community will gather tonight to honor Dr. Stephen M. Coan, president and chief executive officer of Sea Research Foundation as the 2014 recipient of the William Crawford Distinguished Service Award. The foundation operates the Mystic Aquarium.

The Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut presents the Crawford Award to an outstanding member of the community who has contributed to the quality of life in our region as well as to his neighbors. Given that criteria, Dr. Coan is a most deserving recipient.

Since joining the Sea Research Foundation in 2001, and becoming its president and CEO in 2004, Dr. Coan has led the drive to shore up the Aquarium's financial footing and expand its educational mission. It is a stronger institution thanks to his guidance. Dr. Coan says he is just doing his job and when questioned shifts attention to the work of "a wonderful board of trustees, volunteers and staff" who are committed to "protecting our oceans."

"We have taken an organization that was a little sleepy 10 years ago, given it a solid financial base and empowered it with a dynamic future," he said in an interview.

His leadership has indeed "contributed to the quality of life in our region."

The JASON Learning program connects students to the excitement of science exploration, motivating some to move toward "STEM" careers - science, technology, engineering and math - crucial in securing the United States' status as a technological leader well into the future.

For families in the region - more than 12,000 are members - and for the more than 700,000 visitors who travel to the area to visit the Mystic Aquarium annually, it is an enriching, educational and ever-changing experience. As the fourth largest attraction in New England, Mystic Aquarium is also a major employer.

It all starts with leadership and Dr. Coan has provided it. We join with the chamber in congratulating him on the honor he will receive tonight at the Grand Pequot Ballroom at Foxwoods.

We fully expect him to make a big splash.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Pat Richardson, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, retired Day editor Lisa McGinley, Managing Editor Tim Cotter and Staff Writer Julia Bergman. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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