University of Connecticut President Thomas Katsouleas announced during his inauguration the introduction of the Connecticut Commitment, which will allow Connecticut residents who come from families that have an annual household income of less than $50,000 to attend UConn tuition-free.
The inauguration of the university’s 16th president Friday afternoon was attended by Board of Trustees members, state legislators, previous UConn presidents, presidents from visiting colleges, friends and family of the president, UConn faculty and students.
The announcement by Katsouleas of the new financial aid program brought the crowd to their feet.
“We will be coupling that with an aggressive campaign to raise additional need-based scholarships to fund this program, which will benefit approximately 6,000 UConn students within four years,” Katsouleas said. “We hope to raise that family income threshold as high as possible over the next five to seven years.”
The Connecticut Commitment will be available to undergraduate freshman students enrolling in the university starting in fall 2020 across all campuses, as well as to new transfer students.
For students who come into the university with privately awarded scholarships and other aid that must be used on tuition, the Connecticut Commitment award will be used to cover remaining amounts of tuition, fees, room and board, books and other related educational costs, as long as the need is defined by the student’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid, according to a UConn press release.
“The Connecticut Commitment program will be supported by the fundraising campaign and by allocating other University resources to supplement the financial aid budget,” the press release said. “It will not reduce or otherwise affect other students’ financial aid packages.”
Katsouleas also added that he hopes to double the research done at UConn over the next seven to 10 years, and to attract the most diverse faculty.
“We are announcing two new and aggressive faculty-hiring initiatives. One that is opportunistic and one that is strategic,” Katsouleas said. “We have given every school the go-ahead effective immediately to pursue top hires: Scholars in any field who will bring diversity to the university.”
The newly-inaugurated president announced that he hopes to make UConn a workforce development that “leaves no demographic behind.”
Richard Brodhead, former president of Duke who worked with Katsouleas for seven years, described Katsouleas as a “warm, decent, genuinely nice person.”
“Tom believes in education as a fundamental good,” Brodhead said. “Tom has experience building bridges between universities and non-university partners who can do things together that neither can do alone.”
Gov. Ned Lamont spoke highly of Katsouleas and his abilities as president moments before he inaugurated him.
“[Katsouleas] has the skills, science, knowledge and knowhow to get ahead in life, but he also understands the magic of arts and music there,” Lamont said. “He is going to be an amazing president for UConn.”
Former-UConn presidents Harry Hartley, Philip E. Austin and Susan Herbst were also in attendance.
“I think it’s important to see the university through its next chapter,” Herbst said after the ceremony.
Katsouleas thanked his family, friends and past teachers for the opportunity to get to where he is today.
“Becoming president of one of the nation’s leading public flagship universities, especially one with a sense of community and school spirit that is so extraordinary, was honestly beyond my dreams,” Katsouleas said.
Ashley Anglisano is the associate news editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.