University of Connecticut. President's Office.

History notes:

Charles Chester McCracken succeeded Dr. Works in 1930. President McCracken maintained a steady growth of the college and the quality of its programs during the difficult early years of the Depression. The highlight of his years at Storrs was the changing of the name of the institution to Connecticut State College in 1933, which culminated a long campaign by students, alumni and administrators. He left the college in 1935 to accept a position in religious education in Philadelphia, PA .

From the guide to the University of Connecticut, President's Office Records [Charles C. McCracken, 1930-1935], undated, 1926-1935., (Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries)

Charles Burt Gentry was educated at the University of Missouri and came to Connecticut from Rutgers University in 1920. He became Dean of the Division of Teacher Training in 1921, and, after his term as acting president (1928-1929), served as the director of the Division of Instruction and as Dean of the University. Gentry retired in 1950.

From the guide to the University of Connecticut, President's Office Records [Charles B. Gentry, 1928-1929], undated, 1928-1969., (Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries)

Like some of his predecessors, Albert Nels Jorgensen was born and educated in the Midwest, where the tradition of land-grant higher education his historically strong. He attended Coe College in Iowa and took a Ph.D. in Educational Administration at Eastern Michigan College and at the University of Buffalo, he did important scholarly work in the field of educational measurement and evaluation. In 1935, at the relatively young age of 36, he was appointed the seventh president of Connecticut State College, succeeding Charles C. McCracken .

Despite the hard economic circumstance of those times, Dr. Jorgensen brought to this office a far-sighted vision of a great public institution at Storrs. He immediately launched a vigorous campaign to persuade state agencies and civic organizations of the value of the College to the state, and of its need for more adequate support. In 1938, he presented an ambitions long-range plan for the physical development of the College, asking 23 million dollars from an historically resistant state legislature for the construction of a library, dormitories, and other needed facilities. In justifying his request, Dr. Joegensen pointed to the 31% increase in enrollment since he had taken office in 1935. Due in part to the President's persuasiveness and prestige, and in part to the changing climate of opinion, he was able to win support for his building program. The progress made by the institution in Dr. Jorgensen's first years was ratified by the changing of its name to the University of Connecticut in 1939. The Wilbur L. Cross Library, and impressive symbol of the institution's new status, was also built in 1939. President Jorgensen succeeded in maintaining his program for the physical development of the University during World War II by taking advantage of federal funds available through New Deal programs, although some major projects had to be put off because of wartime shortages of materials.

When the nation returned to peacetime, its colleges and universities were faced with the formidable task of meeting the demands for higher education made by the wave of veterans returning with the new GI Bill in hand. Under the imaginative leadership of President Jorgensen, the University of Connecticut became a leader in this work, establishing new University branches in Hartford, Waterbury and Fort Trumbull (New London), and increasing its enrollment from 1200 in 1939 to more than 7500 by 1947. While the effects of the veterans' wave were still being felt, other important needs in the University's physical plant were filled. President Jorgensen, a strong proponent of college athletics, vastly improved the University's facilities with the construction of the Physical Education Building in 1950, and its later addition, and Memorial Stadium in 1953. The North Campus dormitories relieved a great shortage of housing in 1950, and the long-awaited Student Union opened in 1953.

While the needs for the physical development of the campus might have been most pressing, and the accomplishments in this area most evident, President Jorgensen was equally concerned with maintaining and upgrading the quality of the University's academic programs. The most important academic changes during his administration were in the development and strengthening of graduate work and research. The Graduate School was founded in 1940, and the University awarded its first Ph.D. in 1949. By the end of the Jorgensen era in 1962, doctoral programs were being offered in more than sixty fields. In another measure of the improvement in the academic standing of the institution, there was but one national honorary society represented on the campus in 1935. By 1960, the Silver Anniversary of the Jorgensen Presidency, twenty-six national honorary societies had established chapters at the University, including Phi Beta Kappa in 1956.

President Jorgensen also helped the University of Connecticut to establish a strong reputation as a defender of academic freedom. He insisted as a prerequisite for his acceptance of the position her in 1935 that the Trustees suspend a rule prohibiting discussion of the issue of compulsory military training on the campus. During World War II he defended the right to due process of a member of the University staff of foreign origin who was accused of disloyal acts. He also resisted outside pressure to dismiss a staff member who had come under suspicion during the McCarthy era.

During the last decade of his administration, President Jorgensen continued the development of the University and the advancement of its academic standards. New academic buildings and dormitories were built to meet the steadily increasing enrollment. New University branches were opened in Stamford and Torrington. The University also began to build an enviable reputation as a center for research financed by grants from the federal government and private foundations. The campus' social and cultural life was enhanced by the opening of Jorgensen Auditorium in 1956, which has brought numerous fine artistic productions to the campus in years since.

Dr. Jorgensen retired in 1962 after 27 years in office, one of the longest tenures of any American university president. His years of service as President are coincided with the rise of the University of Connecticut from a small, even obscure, college of 800 students to the great public institution that it is today. He is perhaps best remembered as the architect of the University campus. Most of the permanent buildings on the campus today are monuments to the energy, ability and vision of President Jorgensen. But he was more than just a “bricks and mortar man.” As President Glenn W. Ferguson said at the passing of Dr. Jorgensen in 1978, he was also “a 'builder' in the philosophical sense; a champion of academic freedom, a person who recognized that excellence is the critical quest for a university, who created this university from a state college, and who built an institution that cared about its future and cared about that quest for excellence.”

From the guide to the University of Connecticut, President's Office Records [Albert N. Jorgensen, 1935-1962], undated, 1935-1962., (Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries)

In April 1881, the Connecticut General Assembly established the Storrs Agricultural School after accepting a gift of 170 acres of land, several frame buildings, and money from Charles and Augustus Storrs . The School opened on 28 September 1881, with twelve students in the first class. Before the turn of the century there were two name changes ( Storrs Agricultural College 1893, Connecticut Agricultural College 1899). In 1933, two years after the institution celebrated its fiftieth anniversary, it became Connecticut State College, a name more in keeping with its steady advances and broadened mission. Six years later, in 1939, the General Assembly designated the institution the University of Connecticut, an acknowledgment of the institution's developing importance to the State in graduate and professional education, research and public service.

The University of Connecticut is recognized as the state's flagship institution of higher learning. Since its establishment, the University has grown to include 13 Schools and Colleges at its main campus in Storrs, separate Schools of Law and Social Work in Hartford, five regional campuses throughout the state and Schools of Medicine and Dentistry at the UConn Health Center in Farmington.

UConn is a Land Grant and Sea Grant College and a Space Grant Consortium institution. The University spans 4,104 acres at its main campus and five regional campuses, and an additional 162 acres at the UConn Health Center in Farmington.

Designated a Carnegie Foundation Research University-Extensive, UConn has more than 70 focused research centers where faculty, graduate students and undergraduates explore everything from improving human health to enhancing public education and protecting the country’s natural resources.

The office of the President was established in 1893 when the state of Connecticut established Storrs Agricultural College as Connecticut's land-grant institution of higher education. At that time the title of its chief administrative officer, Benjamin F. Koons, was changed from Principal of the former Storrs Agricultural School to President of the new college.

In the early days of Storrs and, from 1899, Connecticut Agricultural College, the President, aided by a few faculty committees, attended to virtually every detail of the administration of the college. At the succession of President Charles Lewis Beach in 1908, the Laws and By-laws of the College specified that the President, subject to the direction of the trustees, had “the immediate direction of all departments, and direction of all matters pertaining to the welfare of the college,” including the appointment and dismissal of staff members and the designation of their duties. They also provided for his participation in all meetings of the Board of Trustees. As the College expanded its enrollment and its programs, an increasing amount of the President's responsibilities were delegated to other administrative officers. The 1921 catalog states that, under the supervision of the President, “the three branches of the administration are managed by the Faculty, the Director of the Experiment Station and the Director of the Extension Service.” During President Beach's administration in 1921-1922, the College was divided into five academic divisions, each headed by a dean. The establishment of the office of the Dean of Women in 1928, Dean of Men in 1929, and Director of the Division of Resident Instruction, which later became Dean of the University, in 1931, were other important steps in the evolution of the Office of the President, as each more clearly defined the duties of the college's chief administrator. By the time Charles C. McCracken assumed the office in 1930, the President was concerned mainly with long-range policy-making, major campus issues, high-level appointments, and relations with the state and federal governments. The latter became more important during President Albert N. Jorgensen 's tenure, when the various programs of the New Deal made many new kinds of federal funding available to land-grant colleges and universities.

When Connecticut State College became the University of Connecticut in 1939, the new laws and By-laws stated that, “the President of the University is the executive and administrative officer of the Board [of Trustees]. In this capacity he is responsible for the operations of the University and is given authority requisite to that end.” This is the mandate under which President Jorgensen worked throughout his long service as President of the University. The President was also designated as “chairman of the University Senate and of the several schools and colleges.” ”The administrative reorganization authorized by President Jorgensen for the University in 1939 placed direct responsibility for the schools and colleges. President Jorgensen was thus able to devote all his energies chiefly to the fulfillment of his plans for the overall development of the University.

From the guide to the University of Connecticut, President's Office Records, undated, 1881-, (Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries)

In March 1979, John A. DiBiaggio became the tenth president of the University of Connecticut, eleven months after the resignation of Glenn W. Ferguson . DiBiaggio began his tenure as president at a time when the University was faced with a number of difficult problems; state funding was inadequate, morale was low within the University community, and there were concerns about the effectiveness of affirmative action programs in employment and enrollment. DiBiaggio worked to address all these problems.

Due to regional economic problems and legislative indifferences, state, support for the University had declined during the 1970s. DiBiaggio was committed to reversing this trend. By 1982, funding was stabilized both by an improving economy and DiBiaggio's capable articulation to the legislature of the Universities needs. The University gained additional support with the establishment of the Tuition Fund, which allowed it to retain tuition payments, as well as through the Second Century Capital Campaign, the first major fund raising campaign in the school's history. The UConn Foundation directed this campaign, which by 1985 had raised almost $25 million from the corporate and University communities. Its immense success was due, in part, to DiBiaggio's amiable relations with Connecticut's corporate community.

DiBiaggio strove to improve morale among both the students, and faculty. Throughout his presidency he remained accessible to students and student leaders. Students found him charismatic and likeable. Faculty admired his commitment to maintenance of academic standards. During his presidency, an Academic Master Plan, Opportunities for the 80's, was developed outlining the University's efforts toward academic excellence. Additional long-range plans were created for the student support services, research and graduate studies, the Health Center in Farmington, mainframe computer utilization, and facilities planning and renovation. The most ambitious plan in the DiBiaggio years was one to establish a research park and convention center, the Connecticut Technology Park, on 350 acres north of the Storrs campus.

In addition to the celebration of the University's centennial in 1981, several notable accomplishments were achieved during the DiBiaggio presidency. In September 1984, the Law School moved to a new location at the twenty-acre site at the former Hartford Seminary Foundation . One month later, the Avery Point campus was designated the undersea research center for the coastal northeast and the Great Lakes states. The Marine Sciences Institute was financed by a $1 million grant from the federal maritime program of National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association .

Despite its many gains, the University suffered setbacks and disappointments during these years. In 1983, the Board of Governors of Higher Education voted to close the Torrington Branch of the University in the face of perennial low enrollments. The University's affirmative action program saw only limited success despite president DiBiaggio's efforts. In 1979, minority enrollment throughout the University's system numbered only 1.313, or about 6% of the student population; by 1984, this total had increased to only 1,654, or about 7% of the student population. DiBiaggio's dream to elevate the University of Connecticut from among the country's top sixty research universities tone of its top twenty was not realized. The overall image of the university both within the states and across the country did improve, however, under DiBiaggio's leadership. As a reporter for the Hartford Courant said, “During his five and a half years as president of the University of Connecticut, John DiBiaggio helped to put the school back on the map.”

The university experienced only moderate growth in most areas during the DiBiaggio years. In Fall 1979, there were 12,842 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled on the Storrs campus who were Connecticut residents, and 1,963 who were non-residents. It cost the average Connecticut undergraduate approximately $3,700 to attend the university for one year: $1,048 in tuition and fees, $1,525 for room and board, and about $1,127 for books and personal expenses. 4,629 degrees were conferred; of which 3,072 were bachelor's degrees. There were 4,491 full-time employees: 1,994 women, and 2,497 men. There were 1,246 faculty, University Library had 1,278,884 volumes. The physical plant had 447 usable structures on the Storrs campus. The University budget was approximately $130,153,661.

In Fall 1984, there were 12,994 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled on the Storrs campus who were Connecticut residents, and 2,346 who were non-residents. It cost the average Connecticut undergraduate approximately $1,657 in tuition and fees, and $2,362 for room and board to attend the university for one year. 4,326 degrees were conferred; of which 2,825 were bachelor's degrees. There were 1,205 faculty, 1,674 classified, 447 graduate assistants, and 1,035 other professionals. The University Library had 1,489,127 volumes. The physical plant had 448 useable structures on the Storrs campus, with a total of 4,047,490 assignable square feet of floor space. The University budget was approximately $203,869,000.

DiBiaggio, born in 1932 in San Antonio, Texas, was raised in Detroit, Michigan . He was the son of Italian immigrants and was the first member of his family to attend college. He received his bachelor's degree from Eastern Michigan University in 1954. He received his dental degree in 1958 from the University of Detroit School of Dentistry, and, in 1967, earned a master's degree in university administration from the University of Michigan .

From 1958 to 1965, he practiced general dentistry in New Baltimore, Michigan and taught part-time at the University of Detroit Dental School . From 1967 to 1976, he held both administrative and teaching positions at the University of Kentucky and Virginia Dental School in 1970 at the age of 37. He came to the University of Connecticut in 1976 as Vice-President for Health Affairs and Executive Director of the John Dempsey Health Center in Farmington. He is married to Carolyn DiBiaggio . The DiBiaggios have three children: David, Dana, and Deirdre. John A. DiBiaggio resigned as president June 1985 to accept the presidency of Michigan State University .

From the guide to the University of Connecticut, President's Office Records [John A. DiBiaggio, 1979-1985], undated, 1952-1986., (Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries)

Glenn W. Ferguson was the ninth President of the University of Connecticut . He served from August 1973 to April 1978. His tenure occurred during a difficult period in the school's history, a period marked by financial retrenchment because of economic recession and inadequate financial support from the state legislature. The University experienced little growth during these years, but it did manage to maintain stability and quality.

A native of Syracuse, New York, Ferguson earned a bachelor's degree in economics and master's degree in business administration at Cornell University and a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1957. From 1961-1969, he held various posts in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, including Director of the Peace Corps from 1962-1964, President of VISTA from 1964-1966, United States Ambassador to Kenya from 1966-1969. In 1969, he was appointed Chancellor of Long Island University, and, from 1970-1973, was President of Clark University . In addition to his administrative posts, he also held a variety of teaching positions from 1969-1971, including Adjunct Professor of Government at Clark University and Professor of Political Science at Long Island University . Ferguson was 44 years old when he assumed the presidency of the University of Connecticut .

Total enrollment at UConn rose only slightly during Ferguson's presidency. In 1974, it cost the average resident UConn student about $2,800 per year to attend the University. By 1978, that amount had risen to $3,400. From 1975 to 1978, a time of severe inflation, the University operating budget grew by approximately thirty million dollars, while state appropriations actually declined by 2 per cent.

Despite a lack of adequate state public support, a number of major advances were made in the University's physical plant during Ferguson's tenure. Ground was broken for a new School of Fine Arts building, and the Psychology, Institute of Materials Science, and Physics buildings were completed. The Co-op bookstore was opened, as was the John N. Dempsey Hospital at the Health Center in Farmington. The crowning achievement was the completion, in 1978, of the new University of Connecticut Library, later renamed the Homer Babbidge Library.

Advances were made, as well, in both academic programs and research. During the 1973-1974 academic year, the Political Science Department created a Masters of Public Affairs degree to meet the growing demand for experts in public service and administration. In that same year, a research team from the School of Medicine announced that its vaccine against meningitis would be marketed nationally by two drug firms.

During the 1976-1977 academic year, the University admitted four students from a pilot group at the Stamford Branch that marked the formal beginning of the Bachelor if General Studies program, a degree program for non-traditional students. A Stamford grandmother was the first recipient of such a degree in 1978. The first annual Day of Pride, an event intended to inspire and encourage minority young people to pursue a college education was also held.

During the 1977-1978 school year, the University and the University of Belgrade launched a hands-across-the-sea collaboration for a scientific and educational exchange program. This was also the year that clinical certification tests of graduate students in speech pathology and audiology indicated that the University's advanced degree programs in these areas ranked in the top ten nationally.

Glenn Ferguson resigned his presidency in April 1978, in order to accept a position as Chief Executive Officer of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty .

Glenn W. Ferguson died at his home in Sante Fe, New Mexico on 20 December 2007.

From the guide to the University of Connecticut, President's Office Records [Glenn W. Ferguson, 1973-1978], undated, 1915-2005., (Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries)

Homer Daniels Babbidge, Jr. was born in 1925 in West Newton, Massachusetts, and raised in New Haven, Connecticut . He graduated from Yale University in 1945 with a degree in political science, and he subsequently earned his master's and doctoral degrees from the same university. He taught in Yale's Department of American Studies for several years and then become director of Financial Aid Division. From 1955 to 1961, he served at a variety of posts in the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, eventually becoming director of the division of higher education.

Babbidge became president of the University of Connecticut in 1962 and remained in that office until he retired in 1972. His years in office were among the most productive, and the most turbulent, in the University's history. During the Babbidge decade, the library's collection grew to over one million volumes and the University's budget quadrupled from $20 million to $80 million. The student body increased by two-thirds to 23,154, and the number of full-time employees doubled to over 4,000.

Babbidge believed that as Connecticut 's only publicly supported system of higher education that had the power to grant the doctorate, the University had a special responsibility to develop the best training it could. He demonstrated this commitment to graduate education in a number of ways. The Whetten Graduate Center and the Graduate Student Residences were both built during his administration, and he initiated graduate programs in social work and materials science. By the time Babbidge retired, the number of Ph.Ds awarded by the University had tripled.

Construction on the Storrs campus and at the branches continued under President Babbidge as it had under President Jorgensen. An annex to the Wilbur Cross Library was begun in 1962, and by 1965 the University High School, E. O. Smith, and Pharmacy research wings had been completed. In 1966, an addition to the Life Science Buildings was finished and work on Physics Building continued. Work on the Farmington Health Center and The Torrington and Hartford branches also continued during the 1960s.

The University moved forward in other areas as well. The first scholarship funds for black students were approved by the Board of Trustees in 1963, and in 1968 the first Black Studies classes were conducted. A pilot honors program was established, and alumni awards for outstanding teaching and research were initiated in 1964. In 1965, plans for an art museum in the “Old Beanery” were announced. The Ford Foundation grant-funded “Semester of the Thirties”, an experimental program of total immersion in the Depression decade, was an apparent success in the fall of 1968.

The Babbidge years were also turbulent, however. During 1967 and 1968, Students for a Democratic Society ( SDS ) actively demonstrated on campus against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. A crisis developed on 26 November 1968. Demonstrators attempted to seize control of Gulley Hall where Olin-Mathieson was conducting recruitment interviews. Violence erupted, and President Babbidge was forced to call in 200 State Police. By the 1969/1970 school year, demonstrations had slowed, and by 1970/1971, tuition had replaced Vietnam as the most pressing student issue.

To the sorrow of students and faculty alike, President Babbidge resigned in 1972. Seven thousand students, faculty, and employees signed petition asking him to stay, to no avail. In his letter of resignation, Babbidge wrote, “These have been great years for me, and it is harder than I can say to bring them to a close. But in a sense, I am keeping a promise to myself; a promise made at a time when, from an objective vantage point, I saw clearly the need to view leadership in public affairs as a relay race, in which each man in his turn passes on the baton of leadership.”

Homer D. Babbidge died in 1984.

From the guide to the University of Connecticut, President's Office Records [Homer D. Babbidge, 1962-1972], undated, 1962-1972., (Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries)

John T. Casteen III was inaugurated as the University of Connecticut 's eleventh president on 12 October 1985. After earning his B.A., M.A. and Ph. D. degrees in English from the University of Virginia, Dr. Casteen went on to become a professor of English at that University, as well as serving as its Dean of Admissions. He also taught at the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Delaware, and at Maryland State College . He was both an adjunct professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Virginia from 1982-1985.

Among President Casteen's goals for the University of Connecticut was the reforming of the undergraduate program with a focus on a common core of learning and, at the same time, the expansion of the graduate program. His intention was to foster growth within the faculty and staff and build up resources and facilities equal to sound academic plans for the future.

Despite state budget cuts during his tenure, President Casteen's administration managed to prevent layoffs and keep program reduction to a minimum. The physical plant was improved with monies earned from bond authorizations, and improvements included renovations to Hall, Arjona, and Monteith buildings, as well as to the Pharmacy building. Other improvements included lab construction and renovations, a new administrative services building at the Health Center in Farmington, and construction of the Gampel Pavilion. In addition, President Casteen's administration developed new sources of financing for projects such as the telecommunications system, and increased private funding for the University as well.

In 1985 and 1986, a new curriculum was adopted, which put an emphasis on general education requirements. The international study programs were developed, with particular focus on Poland . Research and development activity nearly doubled in his five years as president. Casteen also supported the development of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, to house the Library's Archives & Special Collections, two academic centers, and a small conference center.

In addition to physical plant and academic growth, UConn saw a new, wider diversity of minority groups among the school's leadership, an achievement of Casteen's personal goal for both quality and equality within the University.

On 9 March 1990, President Casteen announced he was leaving the University of Connecticut to take the presidency at the University of Virginia, his alma mater.

From the guide to the University of Connecticut, President's Office Records [John T. Casteen III, 1985-1989], 1981-1990., (Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries)


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  • Education, Higher--Connecticut--History
  • Affirmative action programs--Connecticut
  • College presidents--Connecticut
  • College buildings--Connecticut


  • Administrators
  • Universities


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