The UConn Foundation received a $22.5 million dollar donation to support student innovation and entrepreneurship from Peter Werth, an entrepreneur and honorary UConn doctorate recipient, the university announced during a press conference Monday.
The donation, the second largest commitment in the school’s history, will implement $2.5 million of its total to establishing the Peter J. Werth Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation over the next five years, according to UConn Foundation Board Chair Dan Toscano. The rest will remain as an estate gift to support the institute.
“It’s difficult to put into words how grateful we are, but we’re going to try,” Toscano said. “One way for showing our gratitude is what we’re standing in today. In recognition of Peter’s historic commitment, I’m pleased to announce that the Next Gen residence hall will now be known as the Peter J. Werth residence tower.”
Werth founded ChemWerth Inc., a company that supplies and develops generic active pharmaceutical ingredients. Alongside this donation, he also provided the funding for the Werth Family UConn Basketball Champions Center, according to UConn Today.
Werth said he feels those who donate to universities have a responsibility to support their interests in the education system.
“The state can only finance to make (the university) ordinary,” Werth said. “People have to step up and donate to make it great.”
Matthew Cremins, recent UConn graduate and founder of the beverage company Voda, spoke to the success that he found as a result of UConn’s continuous commitment to the field of entrepreneurship.
“It’s been quite a journey,” Cremins said in reference to his start-up. “But one thing has remained constant: the unwavering support from the UConn entrepreneurship community.”
Members of the student body voiced excitement for the future opportunities the donation provides.
“I think this is definitely a big win for the UConn community,” Ben Morneault, a fifth-semester management major, said. “Its great to see all the innovations that are happening both from the student body and from the alumni.
Britney Reynolds, a fifth-semester management information systems and psychology major, said she thinks the development could help attract those outside of the business department.
”I’ve been in Innovation House two years in a row and I did the opening speech for Next Gen when it opened last year and I really see the impact,” Reynolds said. “(I’ve seen) students with music majors, for example, get interested in entrepreneurship.”
University President Susan Herbst expressed gratitude on behalf of the students and staff towards the historic gift.
“It’s such a pleasure, such an honor, that UConn has friends like Peter Werth and his amazing family,” Herbst said. “With the gift that we’re celebrating today, he demonstrates not only the strength of his bond with UConn, but his understanding of what it will take for us to succeed and students to succeed in the 21st century.”
Collin Sitz is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.