Praxair awards $50,000 to WestConn
Program to make students college-ready will benefit

DANBURY, CONN. — Praxair, Inc., with worldwide headquarters in Danbury, Conn., has made a gift of $50,000 to Western Connecticut State University in support of a partnership between the university and two local school districts that helps students become college-ready as they enter WCSU.

The program is called “Building a Bridge to Improve Student Success,” and was begun in 2004 by teachers at Danbury and Bethel high schools and professors at WestConn. The program improves student performance when they enter the university and also helps them save money by avoiding the need for extra classes to prepare them for college-level work.

“This is a program that works. Bridges is successful because teachers and professors work side by side, sharing ideas and putting them in place to serve students,” said Dr. Linda Rinker, WCSU provost and vice president of academic affairs. “Now, in addition to English and math, we are making plans to include science in the program and we may be able to extend it to the middle schools as well.”

“By establishing a framework for effective collaboration between our high schools and the college, West Conn’s Bridge program creates a positive ripple effect throughout our community,” said Nigel Muir, president of the Praxair Foundation. “The program’s measurable success in helping more Danbury-area students enjoy a successful college career is an investment in our future.”

Dr. G. Koryoe Anim-Wright, vice president for Institutional Advancement at WestConn, thanked Praxair for its gift. “Praxair is a generous community supporter,” Anim-Wright said. “We are happy to be able to work with our neighbor on this project, which serves students, their families and benefits the entire region.”

WestConn’s president, James W. Schmotter, also praised the company. “Praxair understands that institutions in our region are interconnected, and that we must work together to improve economic competitiveness and quality of life,” Schmotter said. “While Danbury and Bethel students are the direct beneficiaries of this generosity, the entire community will be enriched by the better-educated citizenry and higher-skilled workforce that will result from the increased access to academic success that the Bridges program provides. It’s a great legacy for Praxair, and we are very grateful.”

The need to address remedial classes at the university level is a national issue, with 28 percent of entering freshman needing at least one such course in 2000, the last year studied, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.

The Bridges program has demonstrated significant success since it began in 2004, when juniors at Bethel and Danbury high school took a college-level placement test. The test results showed that 61 percent of them would have been placed in remedial classes at the college level.

By the third year of the program, only 15.5 percent of entering freshmen from Danbury and Bethel needed to take remedial writing classes.

In math, 62 percent of the students tested in their junior year of high school would have had to take remedial classes at the university. By the third year, only 40 percent of the entering freshman from Bethel and Danbury high schools actually were enrolled in remedial math.
In addition, students who go through the Bridges program at Danbury and Bethel high schools are more likely to stay in school after their first year of college. At WestConn, 20 percent more of these students continue on to their sophomore year than students from other high schools.
The Connecticut State University System has declared the Bridges program a “beacon of excellence” and has made it a model for programs at Southern, Central and Eastern Connecticut State Universities.

Praxair, Inc. focuses its community support in the countries, cities and towns where it operates and further concentrates on four areas: community health; public libraries; higher education and diversity; and employee volunteerism.

Praxair, Inc. is the largest industrial gases company in North and South America, and one of the largest worldwide, with 2008 sales of $10.8 billion. The company produces, sells and distributes atmospheric and process gases, and high-performance surface coatings. Praxair products, services and technology bring productivity and environmental benefits to a wide variety of industries, including aerospace, chemicals, electronics, energy, food and beverage, healthcare, manufacturing, metals and others. More information on Praxair is available at

WestConn has about 5,000 full-time undergraduate students in four schools — The Ancell School of Business, The School of Arts and Sciences, The School of Professional Studies and the School of Visual and Performing Arts — and another 1,000, mostly part-time, students in the Division of Graduate Studies.

For more information, call the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.

Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.


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