Saturday, June 11, 2011

Herbst Talks About Practice Facility, APR, etc.

It's easy to see why Jim Calhoun is so enamored with incoming UConn president Susan Herbst.

She's bright, effervescent and very approachable. She also seems to be a big fan of Calhoun, the men's basketball team and, indeed, the entire UConn athletic department.

Here's some of what she said after participating Calhoun's annual Ride and Walk on Saturday in Simsbury:

"(The basketball practice facility) is a very, very high priority in fundraising for me. We are working on a plan for that. It's time. You've seen the facilities, relative to what otehr D-1 programs have, we're not there. And that does have to do with academics. You have the practice facility, you have more flexibility in terms of practice schedules, and how to balance them with academic schedules and what classes they can take. And also study areas and offices for academic advisors. The basketball practice facility is a super-high priority for me, in terms of philanthropy."

(On remedying the program's APR woes)

"We have a pretty extensive academic plan that we've been working on. We're definitely accelerating it. There's no question it needs improvement, it absoluteley must move up. You have to remember these are student-athletes -- 'student' has to be in bold type and underscored. The APR methodology is a bit controversial, and it's evolving. But overall, putting the more technical stuff aside and how things get counted, the APR is about student success. So, it's good that that statistic exists, to remind you of the whole student"

"There's a tiny, tiny number of (players) that will make the NBA. Most of them will have to find some kind of other career. So we need to focus on that."

(on Calhoun)

"Obviously, the country knows that Jim Calhoun is a great coach and a basketball legend. But I don't think people have any idea of his philanthropy -- how long it's been going on, how extensive it is, how much time he spends on it. I think locally, people know that, but nationally, I wish there was more attention to that, because I think he's such a model for the university citizen. He wins for us and he brings us so much glory, but then he inspires other people to give and to think about giving. For UConn, philanthropy and development are very high priorities."

"To have one of our leading citizens and most important people nationally to be so involved in philanthropy is very important, for the whole university. And he's so modest, I don't think a lot of people know he has this other role aside from basketball."

(On how she feels about college sports in general)

"Throughout my career, when I've been troubled with problems, you go over to the athletics department and you know you're going to find that positive spirit. It's very rejuvenating. It's good to know on the tough days that athletics is there."

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