On Thursday, December 8, Provost Mun Choi hosted a reception to honor Dean Gregory J. Weidemann for his nearly nine years of service to the College. In his remarks, the provost cited advancements achieved during Weidemann’s tenure, including an 80 percent increase in undergraduate enrollment, increases in grants and contracts to an all-time high of $20 million, development of key international programs with top universities in Asia and South America, development of a culture of philanthropy with alumni and stakeholders to establish several endowed professorships and centers of excellence, and the creation of a sense of community among faculty, staff and students. Choi continued, “If asked about his most prized accomplishment, Dean Weidemann will point to the growth in the number of scholarships for needy students.”
Other colleagues paid warm tribute to Weidemann as well. Connecticut Commissioner of Agriculture Steven K. Reviczky described Weidemann, who serves on the Governor’s Council for Agricultural Development, as “the kind of dean who rolls up his sleeves and works with all agriculture stakeholders.”
“Greg and I have worked closely together on the ground to advance Connecticut agriculture. He has the authority to delegate this work, but he has done the work himself, personally immersing himself in the issues important to farmers and farm families across the state. ” Reviczky went on to describe the important contribution of the College’s economists, who, at Weidemann’s suggestion, provided up-to-date data and analysis regarding the economic impacts of the state’s agricultural sector, greatly facilitating the work of the council.
Associate Dean Cameron Faustman, who will serve as interim dean, described Dean Weidemann’s deep commitment to the land-grant system and spoke about the various roles of the dean outside and within the College. He noted that while at UConn, Weidemann has served in regional and national leadership roles to advance the land-grant mission and hosted a meeting of the regional dean’s of agriculture group.
Within the College, Faustman noted, Weidemann worked to significantly enhance development activities, with nearly $24 million raised under his leadership. In addition, he accepted the appointment as dean with the proviso that the W.B. Young Building be renovated and modernized during his term. “This has reinstated a sense of pride in our alumni, donors, faculty and staff, reflected in gifts to create and name a student lounge and board room as part of the newly renovated pace–students love that lounge.”
Faustman continued, “In addition, Charles Zwick, a college alum and President Lyndon Johnson’s budget director, endowed support for the Zwick Center for Food and Resource Policy. Greg’s efforts were critical in securing the gift that provided for this Center and he continues to have an excellent relationship with Charlie Zwick. Recently, he also worked with colleagues to secure a gift of $200,000 for scholarships in dairy science. The details are interesting and I’m happy to expand on them later, but suffice it to say, they involved high-end Italian women’s shoes, the Arethusa farm in Litchfield and a pair of entrepreneurs who were grateful for Extension’s efforts provided to them through Greg’s leadership. And the stated intent of the donors is to grow the endowment to $1 million.”
Faustman revealed that Dean Weidemann and his wife, Rozanne, have established an endowed fund in their family’s name to assist students who, through unexpected circumstances, find themselves in financial trouble sufficient to impede their progress. Said Faustman, “We just made a first award from this fund last week to a student whose experience with a significant health condition and recent job loss was going to prevent her from returning to school next semester. I’m pleased to report that she will be back in Storrs in 2017 thanks to these funds made possible through the Weidemanns’ generosity.”
Faustman read remarks sent by fellow dean and good friend Jeremy Teitelbaum (CLAS), who was unable to attend the reception. Teitelbaum wrote, “I’ve admired the stature he commands in the state as a spokesperson for agriculture and for engaged scholarship. … I know that he leaves behind a college and a university … much better for his influence.”
At the conclusion of the program, Dean Weidemann described the joy he has found in his career and his time as dean, saying “In what other job can you hang out with really smart people and do so much interesting stuff?” He gave credit for his accomplishments to staff and co-workers and thanked members of the College and University for their support during his tenure. He noted how his appreciation for the land-grant system has continued to grow over time: “Having seen the value of the system to individuals and families for solving problems across the state and country has been one of the highlights of my career.”
By Sara Putnam
Photos by Kevin Noonan