The University of Connecticut Board of Trustees voted unanimously Wednesday to rename Avery Point’s Marine Sciences Building after former Connecticut Governor Lowell P. Weicker Jr.
During his tenure as governor, Weicker aided UConn in obtaining a $50 million grant for the Marine Sciences Building and becoming a national Sea Grant institution and a National Undersea Research Center, according to a UConn press release. Members of the Board of Trustees also described Weicker as an avid swimmer and scuba diver.
Gov. Ned Lamont, who spoke at the meeting on behalf of the name change, strongly endorsed the Trustees’ decision.
“The idea that the Marine Sciences Building could be the Lowell P. Weicker Marine Sciences Building, I think, means a lot. It means a lot to obviously Lowell and what he’s done for the state,” Gov. Lamont said. “Lowell … was a champion for marine science biology, a champion for Avery Point.”
Lamont spoke of Connecticut as a leading state in marine studies and said it is essential for UConn to continue this effort through education and recognition of those who contributed to the university.
“We’re a maritime state, and I like to reinforce that every chance I can. It’s not just subs and Coast Guards and ports — it’s also what we can be as a leader in marine science … We need to make sure that we keep our academic mission and make sure that UConn is at the very forefront, and I think that when it comes to marine science, we are, we’ll continue to be,” Gov. Lamont said.
Gov. Weicker began his political career as a representative for the Connecticut general assembly in 1963. From 1964 to 1968, he served as the First Selectman of Greenwich. From 1969 to 1971, Gov. Weicker served in the U.S. House of Representatives and was a U.S. Senator from 1971 to 1989. While serving as Governor from 1991 to 1995, Gov. Weicker most notably implemented a state income tax. Despite pushback, the tax eliminated Connecticut’s budget deficit, sending it into a surplus, and Gov. Weicker earned the 1992 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.
“He’s one cantankerous son of a gun, but he’s also made some tough choices along the way, and personally speaking, I think our state is better off for that,” Gov. Lamont said.
Gov. Weicker’s home of Essex, Connecticut, is located near the Avery Point campus. Trustee Dr. Andrea Dennis-LaVigne referred to the spot as “the ideal location” to honor the governor, noting the beauty of Avery Point and the Marine Sciences building.
The building will be the second fixture of the Avery Point campus to bear Gov. Weicker’s namesake. In 2006, the university named a research vessel after the former governor.
UConn President Thomas Katsouleas, who was also present at the meeting, said a socially-distant naming ceremony will occur in the coming weeks.
“[The renaming is] well deserved based on his [Weicker’s] lifetime of service to the people of Connecticut and to the nation,” Katsouleas said.