Long-time WCSU supporter donates $1.25 million to scholarship funds
New School of Visual and Performing Arts concert hall named in memory of daughter
Erland Hagman has a strong affinity for Western Connecticut State University. He has an even greater affinity for helping students who work hard and need a helping hand.
Last spring, Hagman and his wife, Irene, donated $1.25 million to a scholarship fund in memory of his daughter, Veronica, who died unexpectedly in 2005. This December, just a few months after the unveiling of the WCSU School of Visual and Performing Arts Center, the university held the naming ceremony for the Veronica Hagman Concert Hall in honor of Hagman and his family.
Veronica, the older of his two daughters, came to Western after a year at another university, to continue her psychology studies and “immediately fell in love with Western,” said Hagman.
Following his daughter’s death, Hagman was approached by WCSU President James Schmotter and others at Western who expressed genuine care and concern.
“I saw a commonality through all of them. Now I understand what my daughter was talking about, when she spoke about warmth, caring and compassion” Hagman said. “I got to see first hand what WCSU is all about. Consequently, today I’m totally sold on Western.”
“Western is unique in that it’s a university, but in many regards feels like a small school. It’s also in a location that attracts many students who are the first in their families to seek a college education. Many students also have to balance work, school and family issues,” he said.
Hagman’s younger daughter, Melissa, now 25, also graduated from Western. Her degree is in biochemistry, which landed her a job at Boehringer Ingleheim, where she worked for the first two years after graduation.
The founder and owner of Ergotech, Inc., a Danbury based producer of factory ergonomic products, Hagman knows all about hard work. He came to the U.S. from his native Sweden at the age 28, with a masters degree in electrical engineering. An M.B.A. from Pace University and a Ph.D. from Northeastern University followed.
“If I didn’t have people helping me during my life’s journey” he said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today. I am the result of hard work and helping hands along the way.”
A member of the WCSU Foundation Board of Directors and chair of the campaign committee, Hagman said the scholarship fund and concert hall naming are perfect vehicles to honor Veronica as a humanitarian and musician.
“Veronica had an old soul,” Hagman said. “She was shy, but music gave her a way to express her inner self. She had an unbelievable voice and was an accomplished singer with a broad repertoire from classical to Broadway. She was comfortable on stage; as music transformed her. The naming of the concert hall will continue her legacy and the scholarship will help many bright minds get an education they might not otherwise be able to get.”