Former trustee chairman donates $1 million to UConn

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Last Thursday, the former University of Connecticut Board of Trustees Chairman Dr. John Rowe and wife Valerie Rowe donated $1 million to UConn’s Rowe Scholars program, according to a press release. In this file photo, John W. Rowe, speaks during the naming ceremony for the John W. Rowe Center for Undergraduate Education on Sept. 20, 2012. Photo courtesy of Peter Morenus / UConn Photo / UConn Today.

Last Thursday, the former University of Connecticut Board of Trustees Chairman Dr. John Rowe and wife Valerie Rowe donated $1 million to UConn’s Rowe Scholars program, according to a press release.  

The Rowes are responsible for all funding for the program since its creation in 2004, according to Jennifer Lease Butts, the director of UConn’s honors program. Scott M. Roberts, president and CEO of the UConn Foundation, explained the Rowe Scholars program’s initiative.  

“Their vision was to create a pathway for students of limited financial means and from underrepresented populations to pursue professions in the health fields,” Roberts said in a statement. “The Rowe Scholars program has had such an enormous impact because it goes beyond scholarships to recruit high-achieving students and provide the resources, programming, mentorship and encouragement they need throughout their academic careers”  

The Rowe Scholars program seeks to recruit Connecticut students with both high financial need and an interest in majoring in health sciences. According to a press release, the Rowes hope that the program helps to close racial disparities in the medical field.  

Lease Butts said that the program not only helps enrolled students financially but also connects students with “UConn faculty through speaker series, experts in the health professions through the annual Rowe Lecture Series, and a network of health professionals who are alumni of the Rowe Scholars Program.” 

Lease Butts detailed how the generous donation will be dispersed to Rowe Scholars. She noted that since the financial downturn due to the pandemic, it is especially critical that the program be able to deliver resources and support to scholarship recipients.  

“Our plan is to use the gift in increments over the next four years, so that we can guarantee the increased support for students who entered the program this year for their entire four years at UConn, in addition to increasing the support we offer to all Rowe Scholars,” Lease Butts said. “We have been able to double the yearly scholarships of the Rowe Scholars and provide additional funding for other educational costs.”  

Lease Butts also explained with the contribution, “We have been able to double the yearly scholarships of the Rowe Scholars and provide additional funding for other educational costs.”  

She also noted that the donation will afford the program to continue to enroll students at full capacity, typically around 40 students. Currently, there are 34 Rowe Scholars, according to Lease Butts.  

Dr. John Rowe is currently the Julius B. Richmond Professor of Health Policy and Aging at Columbia University, according to a Columbia University faculty biography.  

Valerie Rowe, who holds a doctorate, is a retired associate professor from Fordham University’s School of Education, according to the press release.   

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