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  • Gratitude Drives an Innovative, Inventive Mind to Give a Helping Hand

Gratitude Drives an Innovative, Inventive Mind to Give a Helping Hand

Reprinted from Our Moment, with permission of the UConn Foundation

news story photoLong before the iPad, the laptop and the personal computer, Dominick Pagano ’68 was computerizing instrumentation for the military. It was during the Vietnam War, and Pagano had just graduated from UConn with a degree in engineering. Within just a few years, he started his own company, Dapco Industries, and sought advice from Howard Sholl, a UConn computer science professor, now emeritus. Sholl had been a graduate student when Pagano was an undergraduate.

Their collaboration eventually spanned decades of sponsored research at the University. “The combination allowed me to develop products that I could not have otherwise afforded,” Pagano says. “We moved to the forefront of the industry with our applications. Nearly 15 years after we had deployed our computerized technology, it was still unmatched in the general industry.”

Over the years, Pagano has hired many UConn graduates who became skilled in handling high-speed computers by working on his sponsored research grants. He also has given a variety of gifts to the School of Engineering, and created two scholarships: the first, the Dominick A. Pagano Endowed Scholarship in Computer Science and Engineering, in 2004, and his most recent, the $125,000 Dominick A. Pagano Scholarship, which will be matched dollar for dollar by the President’s Challenge Award. The President’s Challenge Award seeks to match scholarship and fellowship awards for major gifts as part of the University’s capital campaign, Our University. Our Moment.

Pagano knows the difference a helping hand can provide. When he was 11 years old, his family immigrated to Stamford from Italy shortly after World War II ended. Initially, they lived in a Good Samaritan’s attic until they were able to move to larger quarters. At age 12, Pagano earned money as a shoeshine boy, then by stocking grocery shelves. But his break arrived when he landed a job with a retired physicist who was working for the aerospace industry out of his home. There, Pagano learned electronics, manufacturing and mechanical design. When it was time to further his education, he attended classes at UConn’s Stamford campus, which enabled him to continue to economize before eventually moving to the Storrs campus.

He is grateful to UConn for the education he received, and the relationships that he has forged over the years. “After having experienced the difficulties of financing my own college education, I continued to be sensitive to the financial pressures of most college students,” he says. “I’ve committed to funding a second scholarship to allow maximum leverage of my gift. The scholarship gives back a little of what the University helped me achieve in terms of success.”