UConn Year in Review: Speakers, Protests, Controversy

UConn’s academic year began with a gubernatorial debate hosted by WFSB News in Jorgensen Auditorium, where Democrat Ned Lamont, Republican Bob Stefanowski and Independent Oz Griebel debated issues ranging from retaining Connecticut’s population to implementing tolls on the state’s highways.  (Eric Wang/The Daily Campus)

UConn’s academic year began with a gubernatorial debate hosted by WFSB News in Jorgensen Auditorium, where Democrat Ned Lamont, Republican Bob Stefanowski and Independent Oz Griebel debated issues ranging from retaining Connecticut’s population to implementing tolls on the state’s highways.

(Eric Wang/The Daily Campus)

High profile speakers and a plethora of protests marked the University of Connecticut’s 2018-2019 school year, along with a number of leadership changes in both the school and its state. 

UConn’s academic year began with a gubernatorial debate hosted by WFSB News in Jorgensen Auditorium, where Democrat Ned Lamont, Republican Bob Stefanowski and Independent Oz Griebel debated issues ranging from retaining Connecticut’s population to implementing tolls on the state’s highways. Shortly over a month after the late September debate, Lamont was elected Connecticut’s next governor and was sworn into office in January. 

Lamont, Stefanowski and Griebel were not the only well-known speakers to visit the university during the academic year. In October, former FBI Director James Comey spoke on ethical leadership to a packed crowd of UConn students, staff and faculty at Jorgensen. 

“(A leader has the ability) to bring into the workplace values that people treasure, that make them find meaning in their work, to help a group of people become more as a member of a group than they ever could have been separately, and also help individuals grow and grow and grow,” Comey said. “That’s what it means to be a leader.” 

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School graduate and March for Our Lives co-founder David Hogg spoke at the university in March, and the year ended with a visit from Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk and communications director Candace Owens in April. 

“(Kirk and Owens’ visit) was amazing,” fourth-semester political science major Anna Holland told The Daily Campus in April. “I look up to them so much and their point of view is really refreshing to hear.” 

UConn also saw its student body protest everything from the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the federal stripping of protections for transgender individuals to what they see as a lack of adequate care at Counseling and Mental Health Services (CMHS). 

“We are here to bring awareness to the fact that CMHS needs to be given more adequate resources to continue to improve and expand in the ways it has the potential to,” Annastasia Martineau, vice president of the National Alliance of Mental Illness on campus, said at a demonstration in March. “We envision reform including more funding being allocated to CMHS to hire more therapists, mandatory training for student leaders and an online form to make requesting services more accessible to students.” 

The 2018-2019 academic year also saw changes in UConn’s leadership, as President Susan Herbst’s replacement, University of Virginia executive vice president and provost Thomas Katsouleas, was announced in February. 

The board of trustees voted unanimously to appoint Katsouleas, with Lamont and then-board chair Thomas Kruger expressing their satisfaction with the decision. 

“We believe Tom...has a deep understanding of how a research university works,” Kruger said. “Tom is clearly the right candidate at the right time.” 

“These searches are tricky, but we got it right,” Lamont said. “I talked to folks at Duke. I talked to folks at UVa. It was an easy choice.” 

Katsouleas takes office on Aug. 1, shortly before UConn begins its 2019-2020 school year. 


Gabriella DeBenedictis is the news editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at gabriella.debenedictis@uconn.edu.