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"The Bright Future of the University"
Thursday's Spring Semester Kickoff in Wilde Auditorium featured presentations by President Walter Harrison and Provost Donna Randall, both of whom provided updates on a wide range of topics.
Read President Harrison's remarks. (doc)
Read Provost Randall's remarks. (doc)
Harrison said that the ISET (Integrated Science, Engineering, and Technology) project represents "the bright future of the university." The completely renovated east wing of Dana Hall and the new building adjoining Dana are scheduled to open by the start of the Fall 2005 semester, he said. After that, renovations will begin on the west wing of Dana.
Randall also spoke enthusiastically about ISET, and discussed some of the most exciting aspects of the project. For example, Dana Hall is being reconfigured to encourage extensive interaction across disciplinary lines, "promoting learning, research, and cutting-edge program development," Randall said. Among other things, the ISET complex will feature state-of-the-art laboratories, wireless infrastructure, large-screen display monitors in hallways, computer kiosks in the lobby, and approximately 300 new computers in student computer labs, she said.
Another major project, the construction of new athletic fields, is scheduled to begin this spring, Harrison said. The executive committee of the Board of Regents approved a plan on Thursday to begin the first two phases of the four-phase project in late March or early April.
The first phase involves converting Al-Marzook Field into an all-season synthetic turf soccer and lacrosse field. It also will be available for use by intramural teams. The goal is to have the field completed by mid-August, in time for the fall soccer season. The second phase of the project involves constructing new synthetic turf softball and baseball fields. Plans call for those fields to be completed by November and to be ready for the Spring 2006 baseball and softball seasons.
Plans for a Performing Arts Center at the former Thomas Cadillac facility in north Hartford are moving forward as well. "Our architects and construction companies are moving ahead on the final construction documents, and while we still have about $6.5 million to raise to make this project a reality, we have had a great deal of fundraising success this fall and winter, and I hope that we can begin construction within a year," Harrison said.
Other highlights of Harrison's speech included the following:
- Construction is likely to begin within the next six months on a new building for the University High School of Science and Engineering, to be located on Mark Twain Drive Extension.
- University officials will begin planning this spring for the renovation of the six "complexes" – the university's oldest residence halls – and the possible construction of a new residence hall. "This is a big and expensive project, and it will take many years to complete," Harrison said. "But I am committed to undertaking the planning now that will make that possible."
- The five-year strategic plan to improve faculty and staff compensation is being extended into a sixth year.
- The executive committee of the Board of Regents on Thursday approved the university's participation in a downtown development that will include housing for 136 University of Hartford students. The complex will be located on Main Street, on the site formerly occupied by the Sage-Allen department store.
"We are fortunate to have two excellent search committees," Randall said, "with members who are committed to attracting and recruiting visionary leaders for both colleges."