UConn president Susan Herbst to step down in summer of 2019
STORRS — University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst announced Monday that she will step down after the 2018-19 academic year.
The 55-year-old Herbst, who has led the state’s flagship university since 2011, did not give a reason for her decision in a message to the university community.
“None of us are indispensable and the right time for a change always arrives eventually,” she wrote. “With my employment agreement concluding on July 1 of next year, I felt that would be the right time for me.”
Herbst was on a fundraising trip Monday and not available for comment beyond her written statement.
Herbst, UConn’s 15th president, is the first woman to hold the job since the school was founded in 1881.
Her tenure has included major state investment in capital improvements at the school, including the more than $1.5 billion in bonding for the Next Generation UConn initiative and $864 million for Bioscience Connecticut which funded major construction on the school’s campuses and at UConn Health.
She also oversaw last year’s $140 million move of UConn’s satellite Hartford campus from the suburb of West Hartford back to the city’s downtown.
“Although we’ll all be sad to see her go next year, she has left an indelible mark on the UConn community, and our state as a whole,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
But, the university also has dealt with lower than anticipated state contributions to the school’s $2.3 billion operating budget stemming from the Connecticut’s ongoing fiscal crisis, leading to the curtailing of planned hiring at the school.
The state provides about 25 percent of the school’s annual revenue, down from 43 percent in 2000.
The total cost of attending the school for an in-state student has risen from under $25,000 a year in 2011 to just over $31,000.
Herbst has said her biggest struggle has been growing the school’s endowment, which was $272 million in 2010 and is now more than $420 million. She has said it should be more than $1 billion, given the size of the university.
“My greatest hope going forward is that the state and our many donors will continue to invest in UConn, which is an investment in Connecticut’s future,” she wrote. “UConn has come so far since its founding nearly 140 years ago and it has all the right ingredients to go further still.”
Herbst came to UConn from the University System of Georgia, where she was the executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer. She makes about $758,000 a year and also received a $125,000 retention bonus in 2016 and is due another $75,000 bonus next June.
Herbst, who took a brief leave this academic year to undergo back surgery, said she plans to return to the classroom as a professor of political science at UConn’s Stamford campus.
School spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said the timing of the announcement will allow the school to conduct a thorough national search for her replacement while she is still on the job, allowing for a smooth transition.