A Gift for Band Student Leaders


David ’75 and Heather ’10 Carlson

David Carlson ’75 (member, UConn Alumni Association) knows something about leadership, having served as the s

enior vice president and director of taxes of The Hartford Financial Services Group. However, it was the experience of his daughter, Heather ’10, in the UConn Marching Band that has now inspired the family to establish a new scholarship for up-and-coming leaders in the band.

Carlson was the first in his blue-collar family to attend college. Commuting to classes in Hartford and later Storrs, while also working to pay for his tuition and books, he feels that to a degree he missed out on the total college experience, “going to classes and not much else.”

When it came time for Heather to attend college, UConn was on her very short list of preferred schools. Attending in Storrs for two years, she transferred to Sacred Heart University, but returned to UConn to complete her degree, in no small part because of the close-knit community she left behind in the UConn Marching Band.

“Dr. Mills and his staff are just tremendous in working with band members,” Carlson says. “He knew all of their names. He guided them all. What we’re doing in terms of giving is a kind of thank you for all that the band did for Heather. They helped her grow, learn, and be happy at a big school. She looked forward to it all—the practices, the games, her friends—and it provided amazing memories for her, like going to bowl games. She still loves going back to campus.”

The family wants the David and Nancy Carlson UConn Band Leadership Development Fund to help band members with demonstrated leadership skills to focus on having a great UConn experience, instead of having to work to afford school and possibly leave the band as a result.

From his viewpoint at the one of the state’s largest employers, he says that the UConn name has moved up to a nearly unbelievable level since he graduated, boosting the region’s economy.

“We know that we can count on UConn to provide good students and good employees, particularly through internships where we can offer hands-on experience and watch them grow,” he says. “And there are so many UConn alumni at The Hartford, I think we all take a great deal of pride in watching the basketball and football teams, watching the campus transform, and really seeing UConn becoming an incredible value-added use of our tax dollars in this state.”

Coming from an era when buildings were in disrepair—and the campus nothing like it is today—Carlson says that he hopes the family’s generosity helps to sustain the University’s upward climb.

“When you tell someone from another part of the country that you went to UConn, the first thing they say is usually about basketball. I hope that we continue the growth academically that got us into the top 20, and maintain the balance that all good schools have. As alum and a parent, I can’t help but be proud of what UConn has turned into.”