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Commissioner De Rocco to Retire in June

For Release: Friday, May 21, 1999

HARTFORD, May 21 - Higher Education Commissioner Andrew G. De Rocco today announced his decision to retire from his post as of June 1.

De Rocco, who turns 70 in July, has headed the 43-member Department of Higher Education since January 1992. He was appointed by the Board of Governors for Higher Education which conducts planning and policy-making for Connecticut’s 42 colleges and universities.

In announcing his decision to staff today, De Rocco said that he has been contemplating retirement for some time, but that the June 1 provisions of the SEBAC retirement incentives pushed up his decision.

"I am truly honored to have served Connecticut higher education and am confident that, with the combined efforts of many, the system is healthier than ever," De Rocco stated. "Helping students and colleges realize their full potential has been a lifetime goal. I hope I have helped, to some degree, advance the greatness of Connecticut’s higher education system and make college more accessible and exciting for people of all ages."

Alice V. Meyer, chairman of the Board of Governors, said she fully understood Commissioner De Rocco’s decision but nonetheless accepted it with great regret. "The seven years of Andrew’s leadership have seen significant progress in achieving the goal of a quality, accessible and affordable system of higher education in the State of Connecticut," Meyer said. "It is a loss to the Board and to the whole system of higher education. We realize, however, that Andrew has reached a point in life where he wishes to look at other fields to tend. We appreciate his years of service and wish him good fortune in any new endeavors he pursues."

As Commissioner, De Rocco created the College of Technology, a pathway for community-technical college students in engineering and technology to follow in continuing on to four-year programs. He also led efforts to ease general transfer requirements between public colleges and universities. He convened the Higher Education Coordinating Council, a group of college and university leaders to address common issues, and spear-headed last year’s work of the Public Agenda Advisory Council which issued a statewide plan for guiding Connecticut colleges and universities into the 21st century.

In addition to serving as Commissioner, De Rocco has been an active member of the New England Board of Higher Education which he chaired from 1994 to 1996. He has served on the executive and nominating committees of the national State Higher Education Executive Officers association, and as an ex officio member of the State Board of Education. He also served on Connecticut Innovations, Inc., the Connecticut Employment and Training Commission, and the Connecticut Academy for Education in Mathematics, Science and Technology among many other education and arts organizations.

A physicist by training, De Rocco was president of Denison University in Granville, Ohio for five years before becoming Commissioner. Previously, he was Dean of the Faculty and professor of natural sciences at Trinity College in Hartford. Before coming to Trinity in 1979, he had been a faculty member at the Universities of Michigan and Maryland. Earlier this month, he was named a Distinguished Alumnus by Purdue University where he earned his undergraduate degree before obtaining a doctorate in chemical physics from the University of Michigan.

While the Board of Governors conducts a national search for his replacement, Valerie F. Lewis, Deputy Commissioner of Higher Education, will serve as Commissioner.


Contact: Connie Fraser
(860)947-1801


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