Laurel Hall Renamed in Honor of Former Board of Trustees Chair

Male students talking outside of Laurel Hall, which has now been renamed the Lawrence D. McHugh Hall. (FJ Gaylor/UConn Photo)
The exterior of Laurel Hall, which has now been renamed the Lawrence D. McHugh Hall. (FJ Gaylor/UConn File Photo)

The Board of Trustees unanimously voted today to rename Laurel Hall in honor of longtime chairman Lawrence D. McHugh. They also gave him the title “Honorary Trustee.”

McHugh has been a well known and highly respected figure for decades in both the public and private sectors in Connecticut. The building will now be known as the Lawrence D. McHugh Hall.

“Larry presided over this board for eight years, combining the grit and tenacity of a coach with the grace of an enlightened public servant,” said President Susan Herbst. “This was a period of dramatic, far-reaching change for UConn, at once both transformational and challenging. And through it all, his commitment and loyalty to this university never wavered. He was always determined to do what was right for UConn – especially our students – no matter what.”

During McHugh’s tenure as chairman, several major milestones occurred, among them the appointment of Herbst in 2010, the first female president in the University’s 136-year history.

Other accomplishments while he was chairman include the passage of historic state investments, Bioscience Connecticut in 2011, and Next Generation Connecticut in 2013, which have contributed to a significant increase in student enrollment. During his tenure, UConn Health established a partnership with the Jackson Laboratory, and the UConn Hartford campus relocated from West Hartford to downtown Hartford.

Group of students walking down the stairs at Laurel Hall on Dec. 4, 2015. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)
Inside Laurel Hall. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

In addition, McHugh oversaw the the University’s ascension to No. 18 in U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of the nation’s top public universities, its highest-ever ranking. UConn has also welcomed more competitive entering classes, with dramatic increases in student academic quality and diversity. In particular, UConn has been recognized for its increase and recruitment of female students into engineering and the sciences.

McHugh 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.

Laurel Hall was completed just as McHugh’s tenure as chairman began. One of the University’s newest classroom buildings, it  is used by an array of academic schools and colleges. The building contains 17 classrooms, a 400-seat auditorium, and a 200-seat auditorium. The building became UConn’s first LEED Gold-certified building, with environmentally friendly design components. In 2012, it received the Alexion Award of Excellence and the Honor Award from the Connecticut Green Building Council.

“In the decades ahead, generations of our students will be educated in these classrooms, and the knowledge they gain will be with them for the remainder of their lives,” said Herbst. “As someone who has devoted so much of his life to education, I can think of no better building than this to name for Larry McHugh.”

A 1962 graduate of Southern Connecticut State College, McHugh worked as a high school teacher and football coach for 21 years, earning numerous honors on both the state and national level. He has been president of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce since 1983, and also served on the Board of Trustees for the Connecticut State University system from 1983 to 2009.

Today’s Board of Trustees meeting was the first led by the new chairman, Thomas E. Kruger of Greenwich. Kruger is a partner in the corporate practice of the international law firm of Paul Hastings LLP, and is based in the firm’s New York office. He has served as a member of the UConn Board of Trustees since 2011.