Kerry Fochi Sanders ’93 was born a businesswoman, according to her family. From an early age she had ambition, determination and a keen financial sense.
Just weeks before she was to leave Glastonbury, Conn., to attend a private college in New York, her father, Bill, made an offer. Attend UConn, her parents’ alma mater, instead, and he would pay for sports tickets, graduate school and give her the money the family saved on tuition as a graduation gift.
After all, attending UConn had been a life-changing experience for Bill Fochi ’63, who became a successful businessman after earning his UConn degree. His loyalty to his alma mater runs deep. Because his family had little money, Fochi paid for his degree through participation in the ROTC program and working at a blueberry farm, earning 5-cents per basket. Tuition, he recalls, was just over $1,000 then.
“Among its many advantages, a college degree gives you confidence you wouldn’t otherwise have when meeting people,” said Fochi, whose granddaughter, Ashley Fochi ’19, is the family’s newest alumna. “Of course it’s up to you to do something with the opportunity you’re given.”
Fochi used his degree and a great work ethic to become the sixth highest ranking salesman in the 147-year history of Northwestern Mutual Life. His mantra is to “keep a positive attitude” and his gratitude is exhibited through philanthropy.
Like her father, Sanders recognized a stellar opportunity, enrolled in UConn, and never looked back. She is now the managing director at Legg Mason Global Asset Management, one of the largest asset managers in the world.
“I walked out of UConn with a degree in marketing and business administration, no debt, a job at Traveler’s, and a brand new car!,” said Sanders, who now lives in Charlotte, N.C. “I think UConn is a great ‘educational bargain.’ The business school and the faculty were awesome. It was just ‘liftoff’ from there.”
Money Magazine Ranks UConn ‘Best For Your Money’
Larry Gramling, recently retired associate dean of the School of Business, has spoken with many parents who share similar stories about the university’s value, often when they are sending a second or third child to UConn.
“You can pay $70,000 a year to go to a private school, but if you look at the out-of-pocket expenses, combined with the experiences available at UConn, we offer tremendous value,” Gramling said. “We get a lot of praise from parents. I think they recognize what effort we put in to educating their children.”
When Money Magazine released its Best (Undergraduate) Colleges for Your Money report for 2018-19, UConn was among the Top 50 U.S. colleges, in the company of Georgetown, Dartmouth, Duke, Notre Dame, Yale, Princeton and MIT. The results were based on graduation rates, tuition, alumni earnings and more.
“One of the reasons why UConn is such a good value is the focus on career preparation through personalized student development, which begins on day one,” said Brandy Nelson, executive director of Undergraduate Business Programs. “As students enter the freshman year, they start establishing goals for their strategic engagement to grow through leadership opportunities, internships, international educational experiences, competing in case competitions and other opportunities to distinguish themselves and build their skill sets and portfolios.”
“For business students, success is reflected in many ways. Internships, entrepreneurship, leadership programs, continuing education and military service are all examples of how UConn School of Business students utilize their degree,” said Kathy Hendrickson, director of Undergraduate Business Career Development.
“In 2018, our employment statistics reflected a 91 percent rate, which is a trajectory that has continued to increase over the last four years, as employers recognize the high value of UConn School of Business students,” Hendrickson said. “Solid preparation, internships and mentoring and the ability to graduate on time, all bolster the business school experience.”
The typical UConn student graduates in 4.2 years, a full year sooner than the national average. As of September 2018, the median base starting salary of a School of Business graduate with a bachelor’s degree was $60,000.
“At UConn, we pride ourselves on the excellence of our faculty,” Gramling said. “We have many faculty with doctoral degrees who are at the cutting edge of their discipline. We also recruit faculty who are highly successful business people, who come in as in-residence professors, and share their business skills in the classroom. The result is an educational experience that is truly world-class.”
Quadruplets’ Mom: UConn Is a Great Place for Higher Education
As high school students, Julia Simics ’20 and William Simics ’19 of Shelton, Conn. were particularly mindful of the cost of a college education. As quadruplets, they knew that their parents would be paying four tuition bills at once.
“UConn was at the top of my radar,” said Julia, who is about to start her senior year with a major in Real Estate and Urban Economic Studies. “I’m glad that I chose UConn. I love it here. It is a beautiful campus. My professors are outstanding and there’s always something to do.”
Julia is a member of the Real Estate Society, completed a banking internship, participates in case competitions and works at the university’s Quantitative Learning Center.
“It’s an exciting time to be starting your career,” she said. “I feel like I’ll be well prepared, and I’m looking forward to getting out there and beginning that part of my life.”
Her brother, William, graduated in May, a year early, with a degree in finance, and is pursuing an MBA at Fairfield University. He honed his leadership skills as a Resident Assistant in the Business Connections Learning Community, participated in case competitions and worked as a peer mentor.
“Although I graduated from UConn this year, the lessons I have learned and friendships I have made will be with me for life,” he said. “I am grateful for UConn helping to mold me into the person I am today, and will always cherish my time here.”
Their mom, Linda Simics, said that UConn was William and Julia’s first pick and it was for their parents, too, adding that the university’s reputation was a deciding factor. “My husband and I felt that UConn is a great place for higher education,” she said. “When you compare prices, that’s when you realize what a great value it is. Both of my children have had a great experience here.”
Results-Driven Education is Hallmark of School
Tim Friar ’80, MBA ’83 and Pat Friar ’80 are both proud UConn alumni who endowed the Friar Chair at the School of Business and remain engaged in the school’s direction. Their youngest daughter graduated from UConn in 2018.
“I think UConn is the best value in the land,” Tim Friar said, noting its academic strengths including its investment in hands-on learning, its connections with companies that have an international footprint, its interdisciplinary entrepreneurship endeavors, its innovative leadership in areas like healthcare administration and human resources, its career services, and its willingness to adapt to a changing world with executive MBAs, online education and more.
“The number one thing parents want to know is ‘What is my kid going to get out of it?’ They’re going to go nuts in May if their kid is sitting home with no place to go,” he said. “UConn affords students the exposure to people, companies and jobs far beyond what is expected. They still have to ‘drive the car’ but I think UConn is the outstanding pit crew.”
“This is a competitive world and it is gut wrenching to think that after investing up to $200,000 for higher education, the only return is a nicely printed diploma,” he said.
“The No. 1 thing is ‘Does the university have the brand, the reach, and the rigor to equip my child to compete in the world with Ivy League Schools?’ There is no doubt, UConn does,” he said. “UConn provides the education, experiences and confidence they need to be successful. I think there’s a great pride in being a graduate of the University of Connecticut.”
Half of UConn Undergraduates Receive ‘Gift Aid’
Suzanne Peters, director of Student Financial Aid Services at UConn, said that tuition and fees for the 2019-20 academic year will be about $17,000 for in-state students, significantly less than some private colleges, some that charge more than $50,000 for tuition and fees per year.
“The cost of a UConn education for Connecticut students is quite reasonable,” Peters said. “In addition, half of our undergraduates are receiving some form of gift aid, which speaks to the university’s support in making UConn affordable for all.”
“UConn is now a destination for top students from Connecticut, the U.S., and the world,” said Jennifer Lease Butts, assistant provost for Enrichment Programs and director of the Honors Program. “Students who choose UConn tell me that they were admitted to some of the most prestigious universities and colleges. They realized, though, that the educational and experiential-learning opportunities at UConn are abundant, and our culture of caring and supportive students and faculty create an environment where they can thrive.”
Alumni Network: Long Lasting, Strong
Tom Filomeno ’78, managing partner at accounting agency Marcum LLP in West Hartford, has so many relatives who are UConn alumni that it is hard to count them all. Perhaps they were inspired in part by his father, the late Joseph D. Filomeno ’51. An annual golf tournament in his memory helps to fund four UConn scholarships.
“There’s a big UConn presence in my life,” Filomeno said. “The quality of the education was, and still is, fantastic. Our graduates get great jobs and the accounting students pass the CPA because they are well prepared. Our professors really care about students. In my opinion, UConn is second to none.”
“One of the things that I think is great about UConn is the network of alumni,” he said. “I’ll always see someone in a UConn shirt and soon we’re talking like old friends. We have a shared background. The circle grows and expands. If you’re from Connecticut, your roots are here and your friendships and your network is long-lasting and strong. My UConn friends would do anything for me and I would for them. If I went to Princeton, I wouldn’t have the nearby network I do now. In this world, that’s a great value.”
Selecting UConn Made Grad School Affordable
Andrew Pantason ’17, ’18 MSA, of South Windsor, Conn., said one of the main reasons he selected UConn was because it offered far more for the money, both in academics and extracurricular activities.
“Initially I was looking at small private schools in New England, but none of them stood out in terms of academics, despite being much more expensive,” he said. “I thought UConn was a much better value.”
With a sister in college, he was conscious of the fact that his parents, Andy and Denise (Barrett) Pantason, both UConn alumni from 1986, would be paying two tuition bills. Because Pantason’s parents were able to pay a large percentage of his tuition, he graduated with a small, but manageable, student debt.
“Because it was less expensive, I could afford to add a fifth year,” said Pantason, who earned his master’s degree in accounting last year. While he was an undergraduate, Pantason interned at PricewaterhouseCoopers and the company had a full-time job waiting for him after he earned his advanced degree.
“What I would say to a high school student is that going to UConn and selecting an accounting major in the business school was the best decision I could have made,” he said. “I had great access to big companies and they were looking to hire UConn students. With the School’s help, and good grades, you will be successful.”