On June 30 of this year, Thomas Katsouleas stepped down as University of Connecticut President, and he was replaced by Interim President Andrew Agwunobi. This was all fine, but since then, certain facts, or lack thereof, have made things a bit weird. Per an article in the Hartford Courant, all Governor Ned Lamont had to say was “It wasn’t a perfect fit with the board there. That’s all,” and that’s where the issue arises. Katsouleas’ tenure was well known to be filled with clashes with the board, over issues like stricter COVID-19 policies and the Connecticut Commitment, and now that he is out, the board has appointed Agwunobi as interim president.
However, the term “interim,” which literally means “the intervening time” and signifies the temporary nature of something, is supposed to come with a deadline, or at least a sense that there is a means to an end of the interim phase. In this case we have gotten neither, as the board has given us quite the opposite: A UConn Today article from University Spokesperson Stephanie Reitz stated that the board “does not plan to start that process in the near term and will decide later about its timing.”
The idea that we have an interim president who was chosen unanimously by the board of trustees who has been given zero timeline for a transition to a new president is unacceptable. The board owes it to everyone involved with UConn to give more transparency. Right now, the board that publicly blocked multiple of Katsouleas’ initiatives to aid UConn students has installed a replacement that they’ve handpicked, and in theory, if Agwunobi does anything that the board doesn’t agree with, they can simply start the process for his replacement.
Clearly, if the board of trustees is allowed to just cycle through presidents without community input, we have a broken system on our hands. If any member of the board or someone adjacent is reading this, please just give us something. A date for when the board has to decide on a new president would work. Declaring that Dr. Agwunobi will be the new president without interim status would work. Simply assuring the community that there is a search being conducted at all would work. As you can all see, there are many very easy things that the board can do to give the UConn community more information on what is going on.
Without students, faculty, staff and other members of UConn, the Board of Trustees would have nothing to do, so it is imperative that they stop keeping all of us in the dark about important matters going on at this public university.