The University of Connecticut Board of Trustees unanimously voted to appoint Interim President Radenka Maric as the seventeenth president of the university Wednesday morning.
The recommendation was announced by chairman of the board Dan Toscano during the board of trustees meeting in Wilbur Cross.
Maric has been the interim president of the university since February 2022. Before becoming the interim president, Maric served at the university as the UConn vice president for research, innovation and entrepreneurship.
The last time UConn had a full president was June 2020, when Thomas Katsouleas resigned. After Katsouleas, former UConn Health President Andrew Agwunobi became interim president of the university before resigning in January 2022, when Maric replaced him as interim president.
Maric will have a five year contract which entails $610,000 starting salary with the potential for bonuses. Maric will also get an allowance for housing and a vehicle.
Prior to the official vote on Maric’s appointment, the trustees voiced their support for the decision.
“What has most impressed me about Radenka — beyond her incredible command of really everything — is her unwavering commitment to students,” said UConn trustee Jeanine Gouin.
Gouin was not the only trustee to emphasize Maric’s involvement with student life.
“She understands the importance of supporting students in all ways: mentally, physically, through mentorship and leadership,” said West Hartford Mayor and UConn trustee Shari Cantor.
Both student trustees, undergraduate Damani Douglas and graduate Josh Crow, endorsed the choice as well.
“We have not just found the next president, but more importantly, we have found the right president,” said Undergraduate Trustee Damani Douglas.
This is the culmination of a months-long search by the presidential search committee. From 150 candidates, the presidential search committee narrowed the pool to nine finalists, a group composed of four sitting presidents, four provosts, and one dean.
Three finalists were selected among the nine candidates. One dropped out and two were interviewed this week by the full presidential search committee as well as the Board of Trustees.
The UConn Labor Coalition, consisting of five unions representing employees across UConn and UConn Health released a letter addressed to the Board of Trustees about the transparency of the process on September 21.
“We write as a coalition to express our grave concern about the stability and reputation of UConn and the current presidential search process, which has failed to include meaningful participation from faculty, students and staff,” reads the letter, which is signed by the presidents of all organizations in UCLC.
The letter was referenced during the Board of Trustees meeting by University Senate Representative and Professor Sebastian Wogenstein. Wogenstein voiced excitement about the choice, but reiterated some worries on behalf of the UConn Labor Coalition.
“There are concerns about the transparency of the process,” said Wogenstein. “We would like to improve the relationship between the board and the senate and the faculty going forward.”
In response to this remark, Governor Ned Lamont’s Chief of Staff Paul Mounds asked Toscano how many of the signatories of the UCLC letter were part of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee.
“I believe, subject to confirmation from our staff, that they were all members of the Advisory committee,” Toscano said. Of the five signatories, all but one — Laura Haynes, the president of the UConn Health Chapter of the AAUP — were on the Advisory committee.
In a statement to The Daily Campus Wednesday night, the UConn Labor Coalition clarified the circumstances surrounding the release of the letter. UConn Labor Coalition said the Advisory Committee had been informed of the finalists less than a week before the appointment of Maric.
“The UConn Labor Union Coalition sent a letter to the Board of Trustees approximately 36 hours prior to meeting the candidates. At that time, the Advisory Committee had not been informed who the candidates were or how many would be presented to us,” said the UConn Labor Coalition in a statement.
In their statement, UCLC said they look forward to working with Maric.
“Today our Coalition congratulates Dr. Radenka Maric on her appointment as UConn’s 17th president,” said the UConn Labor Coalition.
In his opening statement, Toscano also said he was excited to work with Maric. Toscano expressed resounding support for the president in his remarks.
“We as a board have the utmost confidence in her to advance our priorities and achieve our aspirations,” said Toscano.
After her appointment vote, Maric spoke about some of her priorities as she enters the top role in the university.
“We must always focus on advancing UConn’s mission as a public university,” said Maric. “We need to cultivate trust in all we do.”
Maric also responded to some points brought up by students in the nearly hour long public comment section which preceded the vote on her appointment.
In response to the seven students who spoke about sustainability at the meeting, Maric called climate change “the issue of our lifetime”.
Maric also touched on some recent criticism regarding resources for UConn’s cultural centers. Mason Holland, seventh-semester political science major and Student Body President, reiterated concerns about funding for the cultural centers in the public comment section of the meeting.
“I want to thank Mason for coming today to share the concerns of students and USG about university support for our cultural centers,” Maric said. “This university is fully committed to our cultural centers, as well as broader support for diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.”
Maric also said the university has increased the funding for the cultural centers by 42% since FY18.
Holland spoke to The Daily Campus about the appointment after the Board of Trustees meeting.
“We’ve bore witness to the turnstile of Presidents over the past three years and we as an organization, and myself personally, are looking forward to working with President Maric on a consistent basis,” Holland said in an email.
“That being said, I expect that President Maric will express and actualize support for the cultural centers and programs. I appreciate that she made known her intention to do so, but here at UConn, we’ll always value actions over words.”
This is a breaking news story. More updates will be added as this story develops.