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UConn President Katsouleas resigns

Thomas C. Katsouleas is departing next month as the president of the University of Connecticut, bringing an abrupt end to a presidency that lasted less than two years — but he plans to stay on as a professor making $330,000 a year.

Katsouleas submitted a resignation letter on March 13, effective June 30. Sources say his relationship with UConn’s board of trustees has deteriorated but called his resignation voluntary. The conflict had several causes, sources said, beginning with an unexpected announcement at his inauguration to provide free tuition for lower-income households. More recently, he announced the university would cut slated tuition increases by half without consulting with trustees.

News of his intention to depart was first reported Thursday by The Hartford Courant. The Connecticut Mirror obtained the resignation letter.

“For reasons we have discussed at length over time, I have made the difficult decision to resign my position as President of the University of Connecticut. I appreciate your understanding of my decision,” he wrote to the chairman of UConn’s board of trustees on March 13. “Please accept this as notice of my resignation.”

His contract with the university has a provision that allows him to transition to a tenured faculty position.

“I look forward to contributing further to the continued success of the state’s flagship institution of higher education as a member of our distinguished faculty,” he wrote in his resignation letter.

Katsouleas, who was 60 when hired at UConn in 2019 with the support of Lamont, came to Connecticut after four years overseeing academics at the University of Virginia as its provost. He began his post in Storrs that August.

An inventor and a researcher, he taught at the University of Southern California for 14 years and served as dean of the engineering school at Duke University for seven years before arriving at the University of Virginia in 2015.

Lamont played a direct role in hiring Katsouleas, though he initially was less than enthusiastic, as were members of the UConn search committee. The UConn trustees formally selected him in February 2019, and he assumed the presidency that August. Lamont invited Katsouleas back for an unusual vetting session with prominent business leaders to talk about the new governor’s desire for UConn to take a stronger role in driving economic growth in Connecticut.

The Democratic governor thanked Katsouleas for his time at UConn.

“I had the pleasure of working with President Katsouleas since he started leading Husky Nation in 2019. His energy and enthusiasm for UConn is infectious, and I always enjoyed spending time with him, hearing about his ideas for the university. He and members of the Board of Trustees agreed that it was time for a change in leadership, and I look forward to working with the Board of Trustees to find a suitable replacement who shares their vision of growth, and building on its reputation as one of the top public institutions of higher learning in the country,” Lamont said.

UConn spokesman Stephanie Reitz said that the two-month delay in announcing his departure was agreed upon by both sides to avoid any distraction from the academic semester.

In an email to UConn employees and students, the chairman of the school’s board of trustees said an interim president will be named May 19.

“As you may know, President Katsouleas made the decision to step down and return to the faculty, and the board supported that decision. Looking forward, as a board, we are committed to ensuring a smooth leadership transition that allows UConn to maintain its forward momentum while minimizing any disruption,” Daniel Toscano wrote. “UConn is fortunate to have a strong and experienced leadership team who will continue to work together, with the interim president, and with the board to guide our university forward.”

Katsouleas was not immediately available for an interview Thursday.

Mark Pazniokas and Jacqueline Rabe Thomas are reporters for The Connecticut Mirror ( Copyright 2021 © The Connecticut Mirror.


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