HomeCommunity ConnectionsA Well of Generosity

A Well of Generosity

A powerful partnership forwards a commitment to community, sustainability, and “business for good.”

THEY SAY WATER IS THE SOURCE OF LIFE. At Southern’s School of Business it’s also a source of inspiration and commitment. Larry Bingaman, president and chief executive officer of the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority (RWA), is a longtime contributor to Southern’s business school; he and his wife have made leadership-level
gifts to initiatives ranging from the university’s annual Day of Caring to the establishment of the Larry L. and Martha J. Bingaman Scholarship Fund. The latter, named in their honor, benefits Connecticut residents who are majoring in business administration at Southern.

Building on this history, Bingaman recently pledged $150,000 to the SCSU Foundation to
support the School of Business Experiential Education Fund. The gift affirms Bingaman’s belief that students “learn by doing” and forwards initiatives such as internships, students’ participation in business competitions, student research, and more. In recognition, the executive conference room in the new home of the School of Business has been named the Larry L. Bingaman Experiential Education Conference Room.

While Bingaman isn’t a Southern graduate, his support of the university’s students is ironclad. He is a longtime member of the School of Business Advisory Council and is now lending guidance to the ongoing development of the Experiential Education Platform, which also will be named in his honor through June 2027.

“I believe we need to support the community where we work, and education is one of the
most transformative ways to do so,” says Bingaman, who has led the establishment of new
operating and productivity initiatives that have saved customers millions of dollars annually while sharpening the company’s focus on environmental sustainability. Previously, he spent almost two decades at Aquarion Water Company, his last role as senior vice president, operations (Massachusetts and New Hampshire).

Bingaman is known as a thought leader and change agent in the community-at-large as well. His involvement is far-reaching and includes being a founding member of the Greater New Haven chapter of Social Venture Partners and the Connecticut chapter of Conscious Capitalism. The latter has a goal of “elevating humanity through business,” which is reflected in the university’s social justice mission.

“Southern is committed to its students and the region, and it continues to move in a positive direction as a center of learning. I’m a strong believer that we have an obligation to lead and serve — to improve lives and make the community a better place,” says Bingaman, who has received numerous accolades for his commitment to service. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Southern during the 2021 commencement exercises for the School of Business. This recognition and the naming of the executive conference room have both been humbling and unexpected honors.

“You just intrinsically understand the difference education can make in people’s lives,” he says. “And I’m still at it myself, pursuing a doctorate in leadership and change. It’s exciting to be immersed in education.”

ABOUT 430,000 CONSUMERS DEPEND ON THE SOUTH CENTRAL CONNECTICUT REGIONAL WATER AUTHORITY (RWA) to protect and keep their water flowing — and a recent $300,000 gift for the Public Utilities Management Program at Southern’s School of Business forwards these goals. RWA’s leaders first recognized the need for such a program after determining that half of their employees would be eligible to retire in five to seven years, a trend echoed at other utilities.

The undergraduate Public Utilities Management Program was launched in response — with Southern’s School of Business and Gateway Community College working collaboratively with the region’s water, electric, gas, and wastewater utilities. The goal: to prepare Connecticut residents for well-paying, critically needed jobs in public utilities.

“As far as I know, it’s the only four-year degree program of its kind in the nation,” says Bingaman of Southern’s program. “We’re excited about great leaders emerging from it and helping our industry. It’s terrific to have graduates taking courses directly tailored to our industry’s problems but also its opportunities.”

Course offerings include financial accounting, public utilities management, green energy/environmental sustainability, and more.

“Too many students throughout the country don’t know enough about our industry,” says Bingaman. “People need utilities, so there are tremendous opportunities to build a rewarding career by choosing this path. And what the Public Utilities Management Program teaches can be applied to many areas of business. It’s a great program to learn in.”

ANOTHER CONNECTION TO THE RWA IS LENDING SUPPORT to the Public Utilities Management Program as well. The Claire C. Bennitt Watershed Fund was created by the RWA in 1999 to protect water quality by acquiring watershed land and promoting environmental education — including scholarships that provide future decision makers with the tools to preserve and protect open space and drinking water supply resources.

“Since it started operation, we’ve received numerous applications to provide scholarships to undergraduates,” says Brian Stone, an attorney with the Pellegrino Law Firm who serves as president of the Claire C. Bennitt Watershed Fund Board of Directors.

“The multi-year Public Utilities Management Program in the business school is a meaningful program to support. We were approached by the new dean for a grant for the School of Business and the management program hits on an area which is of great concern — the future of utilities.”

Good utilities management, Stone says, recognizes the role industry plays in environmental protection. “We are convinced Southern is going in a very positive direction when it comes to protecting the environment, both the school in general and the business school in
particular,” says Stone.

His confidence is well placed. Southern is a charter signatory of the national Climate Leadership Commitment for colleges and universities, with a long-term goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions in operations. Working toward that goal, the new home of the School of Business is the first net-zero-energy building constructed by the State of Connecticut in terms of its carbon footprint. During a year, the amount of renewable energy created onsite will be equal to the total amount of energy used for the building.

The fund’s $200,000 gift made to the SCSU Foundation in support of the business school will be paid over five years, with the first contribution made in May 2023. In recognition of this commitment, a room on the first floor of the new building has been named The Regional Water Authority and Claire C. Bennitt Watershed Fund Community Room.

“It’s an honor for the fund to be associated with the university,” says Stone, who, along with RWA President and CEO Larry Bingaman, Authority Board Chair David Borowy, and members of the RWA leadership team, was proudly on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new School of Business building. “Southern continues to look to the future.” ■

Make a gift in support of Southern and its students.

Read more in the Winter 2024 issue of Southern Alumni Magazine.

Previous articleWhen Stars Align
Next articleThe Empowering Couple

Most Popular