CLAS Building re-named

By Cindy Weiss, CLAS Today

Interim President Philip E. Austin addressing the 2011 graduate commencement.

Interim President Philip E. Austin addressing the 2011 graduate commencement.

The CLAS Building, home of several CLAS departments, classrooms, and the dean’s office, will now be known at the Philip E. Austin Building.

The University’s Board of Trustees approved President Susan Herbst’s recommendation to name the building in honor of former University President Austin, who led UConn from October 1996 to September 2007, a period when enrollment and the campus’s facilities renovation both expanded dramatically.

Austin oversaw the $1 billion UConn 2000 construction and renovation project that expanded and updated the campus and led the effort to extend it into a $1.3 billion 21st Century UConn program.

As part of UConn 2000, a state-of-the-art chemistry building was built, replacing the former Waring Chemistry Building, which was renovated as the CLAS Building, housing the departments of English, statistics, geography, and the CLAS Dean’s Office, along with classrooms and offices for several programs.

“Dr. Austin took an outdated campus and transformed it into a vibrant contemporary place marked for research excellence, competitive with the better state schools, attracting the best students and attaining national attention in intercollegiate sports,” said President Herbst.

“He boosted the morale of the students, faculty and staff through extraordinary improvements of the campus through the UConn 2000 projects. Dr. Austin also helped to bring in a $110 increase in research awards and led a successful fundraising campaign of $300 million,” she said in a memo to the trustees.

After his tenure as president ended, Austin agreed to serve as interim president from May 2010 through June 2011, just prior to Herbst’s appointment.  He then served as interim vice president of health affairs, prior to the appointment of Frank M. Torti, M.D.

“Dr. Austin exemplifies the personal service and support to the University that deserves true recognition through a naming opportunity,” said Herbst.

Requests to name facilities for administrators are usually deferred until the person has been retired from University service for three years. However, a provision allows the president to recommend an exception when the circumstances warrant it.

Austin has not yet retired from state service, but it has been more than three years since he resigned as University president.

Austin, whose faculty appointment was professor of economics in CLAS, was honored on his resignation as president by the naming of an endowed chair, now held as the Philip E. Austin Chair in Economics by Prof. Kathleen Segerson.

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