December 5, 2017

Woodbridge businessman pledges $22.5M to support UConn entrepreneurship

Peter Morenus | UConn Photo
Peter Morenus | UConn Photo
Peter J. Werth, right, shakes hands with David Benedict, director of UConn Athletics, following an event to announce a $22.5 million commitment to the University and the naming of the Peter J. Werth Residence Tower.

Woodbridge businessman Peter J. Werth has pledged $22.5 million to the UConn Foundation, which will include establishing an Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Werth, CEO of ChemWerth Inc. in Woodbridge, will pay $2.5 million over the next five years to establish the Peter J. Werth Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which will bring together student and faculty programs fostering entrepreneurship and innovation that have potential commercial application and can be used to create new companies.

The remaining $20 million is an estate gift, providing ongoing support for the Werth Institute in perpetuity. In recognition of this commitment, UConn has renamed the NextGen Residence Hall as the Peter J. Werth Residence Tower.

The commitment from Werth is the second-largest in university history, behind Ray and Carole Neag's $23 million pledge in 1999.

UConn Foundation CEO Josh Newton said Werth's expansion from giving gifts for athletic programs to supporting academics and, by extension, the state economy, is a philanthropic model he hopes others will be inspired to follow.

UConn President Susan Herbst said Werth's "incredible gesture will transform student lives, supporting their entrepreneurial spirit as they create the businesses of the future."

Werth earned his bachelor's degree from Fort Hays State University in Kansas and his master's degree from Stanford University, beginning his professional career as an R&D scientist in the early 1960s. Working from a room above the garage in his Woodbridge home, he established ChemWerth Inc., a generic drug development and supply company, in 1982.

"While I didn't attend UConn, I have come to believe in its mission, and see the importance of creating opportunities for innovation at our state's flagship university," said Werth.

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