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Incoming UConn President charts new course for flagship university

STORRS -- Thomas C. Katsouleas, a leading plasma scientist and engineer with deep academic roots in teaching and research, has been appointed the 16th president of the University of Connecticut.

UConn’s Board of Trustees unanimously confirmed his appointment Tuesday at a special meeting, capping a highly competitive six-month national search. His term as president begins Aug. 1, 2019.

Katsouleas, who is currently executive vice president and provost of the University of Virginia, comes to Connecticut with the endorsement of Gov. Ned Lamont, who welcomed Katsouleas on Tuesday before an enthusiastic crowd in the Wilbur Cross Building.

“UConn is a vital piece of Connecticut’s economic engine, and I look forward to working with Tom in ensuring that the university and our state’s economic development team, large corporations, small businesses and start-ups alike are working together to help develop a pipeline of talent and an environment that supports business development and economic growth,” Gov. Lamont said.

“Tom’s reputation is one of advocacy and relationship-building, a key attribute for the president of our flagship university,” Lamont added. “I look forward to connecting him with business leaders, our agency commissioners, members of the nonprofit and advocacy community, and others as we work toward a Connecticut that is forward-thinking, strategic and welcoming to new graduates, businesses and entrepreneurs alike.”

“Tom is clearly the right candidate at the right time to lead UConn forward, and we are delighted he has decided to come to Connecticut,” Board of Trustees Chairman Thomas Kruger said Tuesday.

“He has a deep and comprehensive understanding of what makes a major research university work and what success looks like. We were drawn to Tom’s vision of what the future of UConn can be and how we as a university can work with the Governor and his administration to help support the Governor’s economic vision for the State,” Kruger noted.

“We are confident in Tom and his ability to work closely and effectively with our Governor, the board, the General Assembly, our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and donors. He knows the vital role UConn plays in the life of our students and faculty, and for the economy, workforce, culture and communities of our State,” Kruger said. “We are pleased with our choice, and we are excited about it.”

“I’m honored and humbled to be appointed president of the University of Connecticut, one of the most outstanding public research universities in the nation and one of Connecticut’s greatest assets,” Katsouleas told trustees on Tuesday.

“I want to thank you for placing your confidence in me. I will spend each and every day working to justify that confidence and meet your expectations in the years ahead,” he said.

Among his many goals at UConn, Katsouleas expects to focus strongly on supporting innovation, enhancing the University’s connections with alumni and philanthropic supporters, and capitalizing on the state’s investments to aggressively expand UConn’s impact on the economy and innovation.

“One of my highest priorities is to grow research at UConn. That means making strategic investments in faculty and facilities with the goal of doubling research here over the next seven to 10 years,” he said.

“Good public universities are pillars supporting their state – serving its needs and supporting its economy,” he added. “Great flagship universities with their satellite campuses and partners, including state and community colleges, are the crown jewels of the state – uplifting the mind and spirit not just of their own students, but of the surrounding communities and the entire state.

“That is what we are here to do, and I’m incredibly proud to contribute to that mission.”

Katsouleas will steward a $2.4 billion UConn budget that needs fixing.

The university is not getting as much  state aid.

“I can’t promise a lot of new revenues. The first thing I have to do is stabilize the budget,” said Gov. Ned Lamont, who attended the Board of Trustees meeting.

Students like Pablo Rodriguez are hoping it won’t come out of their pocket.

“Definitely focus on lower tuition,” he said. Gov. Ned Lamont said affordable education is one of the reasons he convened a meeting between Katsouleas and business leaders.

“Find other sources of revenue. One of the reasons I worked hard to get the business community involved here and for the community colleges is to have them play a role in making education affordable,” explain Lamont.

Katsouleas told FOX61 money can come from building on UConns proud athletic heritage.

He said, “Winning really helps with the revenue side.” He wants to grow the four satellite campuses.

“Some of them have potential for additional revenue generations,” stated Katsouleas.

He has goals for UConn health.

“Continue to provide exceptional patient care, while charting a sustainable new course for UConn John Dempsey Hospital,” and he wants to forge relationships with lawmakers.

“It is an important part of the role of President here,” said Katsouleas.

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