University officials held an outdoor event on Wednesday to celebrate former chairman of the Board of Trustees Larry McHugh and the recent renaming of the academic building now known as Lawrence D. McHugh Hall in recognition of his contributions to UConn over the years.
The new name for the former Laurel Hall was approved by a vote of the Board of Trustees in December, and the building sign on Fairfield Way has already been updated.
I love that thousands of UConn students will say ‘meet you at McHugh at 11 o’clock.’ — President Herbst
Speaking during the ceremony, President Susan Herbst said, “Larry is the model of a public servant with the traits of determination, service, and courage. I have the upmost respect for him as a person and as a board chairman. He always wanted what was best and right for UConn.
“I can’t think of a better building on our campus to name in his honor,” she added. “I love that thousands of UConn students will say ‘meet you at McHugh at 11 o’clock.’”
McHugh presided over the board from 2009 to 2017. His tenure spanned the appointment of Herbst in 2010, as the first female president in University history, and the passage historic investments by the state in BioScience Connecticut in 2011 and Next Generation Connecticut in 2013. Also while he was chairman, UConn Health established a partnership with the Jackson Laboratory and the University’s Hartford campus relocated to downtown Hartford.
A former high school teacher and football coach, McHugh has been president of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce since 1983.
The current chairman of the board, Thomas Kruger, paid tribute to his predecessor. “Working alongside Larry for these years, I realized he was the gold standard,” he said. “The right of every trustee to speak was respected under Larry. UConn had eight good years under Larry – there were challenges, but they were rewarding years.”
Kruger noted that McHugh had an impact in many spheres: athletics, business, and civic affairs. “I don’t think there are many people in our state that have a high school athletic field and a university classroom building named after them,” he said, “but both are very well deserved.”
Trustee Thomas Ritter commented, “I have never met a finer human being than Larry. Great leadership starts with a moral compass. You then have to understand who you are working with, and how to get to the desired goal. He is such a treasure.”
The state of Connecticut can’t exist without an outstanding University of Connecticut. — Larry McHugh
Taking the podium, McHugh thanked Herbst and the board for the building naming. “Today will always have a special place in my heart,” he said.
Speaking of his time as chairman of the board he said, “The members of the Board of Trustees were more than just that to me. They were my friends. They are loyal, dedicated, honest, and upfront. The most important thing to them was that our UConn students get a fair shake.
“Never forget how important higher education is for the state of Connecticut,” he continued. “Don’t be bashful in telling people that. The state of Connecticut can’t exist without an outstanding University of Connecticut.”