Skip to main content

University of Connecticut, President's Office Records [John A. DiBiaggio, 1979-1985]

Identifier: 1987-0011

Scope and Content

The collection contains the office files created during DiBiaggio's tenure as President of the University of Connecticut> from 1979 through 1985. Included in the collection is correspondence, reports, minutes, memoranda, newspaper clippings, reports and publications. See Arrangement for details on the issues covered by the collection.


  • undated, 1952-1986


The collection is open and available for research.

Restrictions on Use

Permission to publish from these Papers must be obtained in writing from both the owner(s) of the copyright.


In March 1979, John A. DiBiaggio became the tenth president of the University of Connecticut, eleven months after the resignation of Glenn W. Ferguson. DiBiaggio began his tenure as president at a time when the University was faced with a number of difficult problems; state funding was inadequate, morale was low within the University community, and there were concerns about the effectiveness of affirmative action programs in employment and enrollment. DiBiaggio worked to address all these problems.

Due to regional economic problems and legislative indifferences, state, support for the University had declined during the 1970s. DiBiaggio was committed to reversing this trend. By 1982, funding was stabilized both by an improving economy and DiBiaggio's capable articulation to the legislature of the Universities needs. The University gained additional support with the establishment of the Tuition Fund, which allowed it to retain tuition payments, as well as through the Second Century Capital Campaign, the first major fund raising campaign in the school's history. The UConn Foundation directed this campaign, which by 1985 had raised almost $25 million from the corporate and University communities. Its immense success was due, in part, to DiBiaggio's amiable relations with Connecticut's corporate community.

DiBiaggio strove to improve morale among both the students, and faculty. Throughout his presidency he remained accessible to students and student leaders. Students found him charismatic and likeable. Faculty admired his commitment to maintenance of academic standards. During his presidency, an Academic Master Plan, Opportunities for the 80's, was developed outlining the University's efforts toward academic excellence. Additional long-range plans were created for the student support services, research and graduate studies, the Health Center in Farmington, mainframe computer utilization, and facilities planning and renovation. The most ambitious plan in the DiBiaggio years was one to establish a research park and convention center, the Connecticut Technology Park, on 350 acres north of the Storrs campus.

In addition to the celebration of the University's centennial in 1981, several notable accomplishments were achieved during the DiBiaggio presidency. In September 1984, the Law School moved to a new location at the twenty-acre site at the former Hartford Seminary Foundation. One month later, the Avery Point campus was designated the undersea research center for the coastal northeast and the Great Lakes states. The Marine Sciences Institute was financed by a $1 million grant from the federal maritime program of National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association.

Despite its many gains, the University suffered setbacks and disappointments during these years. In 1983, the Board of Governors of Higher Education voted to close the Torrington Branch of the University in the face of perennial low enrollments. The University's affirmative action program saw only limited success despite president DiBiaggio's efforts. In 1979, minority enrollment throughout the University's system numbered only 1.313, or about 6% of the student population; by 1984, this total had increased to only 1,654, or about 7% of the student population. DiBiaggio's dream to elevate the University of Connecticut from among the country's top sixty research universities tone of its top twenty was not realized. The overall image of the university both within the states and across the country did improve, however, under DiBiaggio's leadership. As a reporter for the Hartford Courant said, “During his five and a half years as president of the University of Connecticut, John DiBiaggio helped to put the school back on the map.”

The university experienced only moderate growth in most areas during the DiBiaggio years. In Fall 1979, there were 12,842 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled on the Storrs campus who were Connecticut residents, and 1,963 who were non-residents. It cost the average Connecticut undergraduate approximately $3,700 to attend the university for one year: $1,048 in tuition and fees, $1,525 for room and board, and about $1,127 for books and personal expenses. 4,629 degrees were conferred; of which 3,072 were bachelor's degrees. There were 4,491 full-time employees: 1,994 women, and 2,497 men. There were 1,246 faculty, University Library had 1,278,884 volumes. The physical plant had 447 usable structures on the Storrs campus. The University budget was approximately $130,153,661.

In Fall 1984, there were 12,994 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled on the Storrs campus who were Connecticut residents, and 2,346 who were non-residents. It cost the average Connecticut undergraduate approximately $1,657 in tuition and fees, and $2,362 for room and board to attend the university for one year. 4,326 degrees were conferred; of which 2,825 were bachelor's degrees. There were 1,205 faculty, 1,674 classified, 447 graduate assistants, and 1,035 other professionals. The University Library had 1,489,127 volumes. The physical plant had 448 useable structures on the Storrs campus, with a total of 4,047,490 assignable square feet of floor space. The University budget was approximately $203,869,000.

DiBiaggio, born in 1932 in San Antonio, Texas, was raised in Detroit, Michigan. He was the son of Italian immigrants and was the first member of his family to attend college. He received his bachelor's degree from Eastern Michigan University in 1954. He received his dental degree in 1958 from the University of Detroit School of Dentistry, and, in 1967, earned a master's degree in university administration from the University of Michigan.

From 1958 to 1965, he practiced general dentistry in New Baltimore, Michigan and taught part-time at the University of Detroit Dental School. From 1967 to 1976, he held both administrative and teaching positions at the University of Kentucky and Virginia Dental School in 1970 at the age of 37. He came to the University of Connecticut in 1976 as Vice-President for Health Affairs and Executive Director of the John Dempsey Health Center in Farmington. He is married to Carolyn DiBiaggio. The DiBiaggios have three children: David, Dana, and Deirdre. John A. DiBiaggio resigned as president June 1985 to accept the presidency of Michigan State University.


36.75 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



In March, 1979, John A. DiBiaggio became the tenth president of the University of Connecticut, eleven months after the resignation of Glenn W. Ferguson.


Series I: Inauguration (1979) pertains to the planning and execution of the inauguration ceremony for President DiBiaggio held on 8 September 1979. The records include planning documents from the Inauguration Committee, invitation lists, the program, newspaper clippings, and formal letters of congratulations to President DiBiaggio from various colleges and universities. This series is arranged alphabetically by folder heading

Series II: Administration (1974-1985 [bulk, 1979-1985]) provides information on the university administration activities of the President's office during President John DiBiaggio's tenure. The files contain correspondence between the president's office and campus schools, colleges, departments, offices, institutes, centers, faculty committee, branch campuses, and trustees; as well as correspondence relating to university-sponsored programs and activities. There are memoranda, reports, newsletters, and some committee minutes. Subjects and correspondents include the Alumni Association, athletics, collective bargaining, the Computer Center, Exchange programs, finance and Administration, the Health Center, the Office for Affirmative Action, the Office of Institutional Research, Student Affairs and Services, University of Connecticut Educational Properties, Inc., and the UConn Foundation. There are particular topics of interest such as women in athletics and Title IX, cults on campus, gay rights, racial relations, pornography, sexual harassment, and U.S.D.A. animal care violations. The series is arranged alphabetically by folder heading.

Series III: State Government (undated, 1952-1986 [bulk, 1980-1983]) contains correspondence between the office of President DiBiaggio and state governmental offices, boards, bureaus, departments, commissions, and state legislative and regulatory bodies, as well as state representatives and the Connecticut General Assembly. Specific correspondents include the Board of Regents, the Board of Higher Education, and governor's Advisory Committees. Subjects include legislative inquires and the restructuring of public higher education. This series is arranged alphabetically by folder heading.

Series IV: Federal Government (undated, 1973-1986 [bulk, 1975-1983]) contains correspondence between the President's Office and Connecticut congressional representatives and senators, federal governmental departments, commissions and bureaus, as well as branches of the armed forces. The correspondents include Senator Christopher Dodd; Congresspersons Stewart B. McKinney, Toby A. Moffet, Lawrence J. Denardis, and Barbara Kennelly; State department; the Departments of Education, and Health, Education, and Welfare; the National Science Foundation; the U.S. Postal Service; and the Veterans Administration. Special items include information on Tax Relief Act $.311 (pertaining to college education), the Equal Rights Amendment, the Education Appropriations Bill, and Section 504 (pertaining to the handicapped). The series is arranged alphabetically by correspondent or topic.

Series V: Educational Associations (1973-1984 [bulk, 1979-1984]) contains correspondence between President DiBiaggio's office and various regional and national associations such as the American Council on Education, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, and the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges. In addition to correspondence, the series includes some printed materials such as newsletters, reports, and informational brochures from the associations. The series is arranged alphabetically by association, and, within each subject heading, chronologically.

Series VI: Subject Files (1974-1986 [bulk, 1976-1983]) contains correspondence between the office of President DiBiaggio and various corporations, foundations, individuals, and community groups, as well as correspondence with local Chambers of Commerce, town governments, and various media. The files contain correspondence and information on specific subjects and events such as Nuclear Arms Week and the Atlanta Crisis. The series is arranged alphabetically by folder heading.

Series VII: Speeches (undated, 1977-1985 [bulk, 1979-1985]) contains President DiBiaggio's speeches, as well as addresses and messages to the University administration, faculty, and students; state and federal legislatures; government agencies; and local, state, and national professional and business groups. Included are commencement and convocation addresses delivered at both the University of Connecticut and other colleges and universities, television and newspaper editorials by president DiBiaggio, presentations at award ceremonies, testimonials and dedications, and testimony before various state and federal legislative committees. Speeches address topics such as the future of American education, the state of health and dental care in the United States, Black and Hispanic history, and the Centennial of the University of Connecticut>. The series is arranged in reverse chronological order by date of the speech.

Acquisition Information

The files were transferred in three separate accessions. Files dated circa 1979-1981 were transferred in 1985, files to 1985 were transferred in 1987 and the speeches were transferred in 1988.

University of Connecticut
President's Office Records [John A. DiBiaggio, 1979-1985]
Archives & Special Collections staff
1991 April
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library Repository

University of Connecticut Library
405 Babbidge Road Unit 1205
Storrs Connecticut 06269-1205 USA US