Lawrence D. McHugh, who has served as chairman of the UConn Board of Trustees since 2009, announced Wednesday that he will be stepping down from the position this summer, when his current six-year term ends.
McHugh, a well-known and highly respected figure for decades in both the public and private sectors in Connecticut, made the announcement at the end of Wednesday’s meeting of the Board of Trustees.
He was originally appointed board chair by then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell in 2009 to complete the unexpired term of the previous chair, Dr. John Rowe. In 2011, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy nominated McHugh for a full six-year term.
McHugh told trustees that the governor asked him earlier this year if he was interested in being reappointed as board chair.
“After a long period of reflection, I let the governor know that I did not wish to be considered for a new term as chairman of the board,” McHugh told trustees. “This was not an easy decision. I have been involved in higher education in Connecticut for more than 35 years and feel an incredible sense of pride in UConn. Serving on the board with my fellow trustees and working with UConn’s leadership to advance the University has been one of the great honors and privileges of my life.
“I want to thank Governor Malloy for his confidence and his extraordinary support for UConn,” he added. “He has been and continues to be one of the greatest champions that public higher education has ever had in Connecticut, and we are deeply grateful for his vision and his leadership.”
Malloy said, “Under Larry’s steady leadership, UConn has solidified its reputation as a world-class institution of higher education. His tenure will not soon be forgotten, and includes historic investments that have led to increased student enrollment and a more competitive and diverse student body – making us all proud of our flagship university and its branches. I wish Larry the best in his next endeavor, and thank him for his service to UConn and the State of Connecticut. I have no doubt that the incredible progress accomplished by the Board of Trustees will continue.”
UConn President Susan Herbst said, “Larry McHugh is one of the finest public servants – and one of the finest people – I have ever had the privilege to work with. His commitment to UConn and its success has been phenomenal. He has the deepest appreciation for the importance of public higher education and the vital role a research university plays in the life of our state, and the nation. He is an incredibly thoughtful, judicious, and diplomatic board chair, with the highest sense of integrity. I have worked with trustees and regents at institutions across the nation, and he stands out as being among the very best. UConn has benefited immeasurably from his time here, and we cannot thank him enough.”
McHugh said he is gratified by UConn’s success and accomplishments over the past eight years.
“This has been a period of extraordinary growth and success at UConn,” he said. “It wasn’t always easy, and the board and President Herbst have had to make tough choices. At the end of the day, we always did what we felt was right for the state and for the University. And there is so much more to do and so many more challenges ahead. But I have been in this role for eight years. Prior to this, I served for 26 years in the Connecticut State University system, including 14 years as board chair. That is a long time to do anything. With that in mind, I decided that now is the right time to step down. I’m comfortable doing so, because I know that UConn is in good hands.”
McHugh began his career as a teacher and football coach at Xavier High School in Middletown from 1963 to 1983. Since 1983, he has served as president of the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce, which has grown into the largest chamber in the state of Connecticut.
He has been involved with higher education since the early 1980s, when Gov. William A. O’Neill nominated him to serve on the board of the Connecticut State University System.
McHugh said that he wanted to communicate one key sentiment in his remarks:
“The University of Connecticut is one of the finest universities in the country. It took vision, hard work, leadership, and commitment to get it there,” he said. “It will take the same to keep it there. Making UConn into what it is today over the last two decades is one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of this state.
“UConn attracts great students, offers an excellent education, and produces outstanding graduates who are the future, in every sense. It is a powerful contributor to Connecticut’s economy. UConn is one of the very best things Connecticut has going for it. And none of us anywhere in this state should take that for granted. Instead, we have to do all we can to keep the University headed in the right direction.”
The governor’s office said that he will nominate McHugh’s successor in the coming weeks. McHugh will continue to serve as board chair until then.