Dr Erland and Irene Hagman of Ridgefield are pledging $1.25 million to Western Connecticut State University, which will grow to $1.65 million if the university reaches certain goals in the next five years. Part of the gift will be used to endow full scholarships in the names of Hagman's two daughters, who were both Western graduates. One scholarship will be for a psychology student, the other for a biochemistry student.
The rest of the funding will be an unrestricted gift to the university.
Hagman says both of his daughters had a choice of where to attend college. Veronica spent a year at Smith College, but came home disillusioned. She then attended Western and praised the warmth of the University community. He added that she excelled academically and as a person.
Veronica gained early admission to UConn for her PhD, but her dreams were shattered when she died unexpectedly a few months before receiving her diploma at West Conn. Hagman says the tragedy put the family in a tailspin of grief. He wasn't involved before his daughter's death, but the school reached out and supported the family during that time nine years ago.
He says he knows a lot of students are struggling for financial support to complete college.
Hagman says education is essential to widen horizons. He called life a continuous learning process. He hopes this gift shows solid support for the future of Western and help to propel the university to be a world class institution.
Hagman is the founder and owner of Ergotech Incorporated, a Danbury-based company that designs and produces ergonomic factory equipment. He is a native of Sweden and holds a PhD from Northeastern University.
The previous largest gift the university had received was $1.1 million.