Thomas E. Kruger announced Wednesday that he is stepping down as chairman of UConn’s Board of Trustees, expressing gratitude for the opportunity to serve the institution and confidence that its next chapter is in good hands with incoming President Designate Thomas C. Katsouleas.
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.
Board of Trustees Vice-Chairman Thomas D. Ritter (LAW ’77) will serve as interim board chair until Gov. Ned Lamont makes a permanent selection.
Kruger, of Greenwich, succeeded Larry McHugh in the position of chairman in late 2017, after McHugh decided not to seek another six-year term on the board.
Kruger said Wednesday that he is grateful for the chance to have served, and for the support of fellow board members and others who have given their time to the unpaid positions, based on their love and support for the University.
“No one is paid to be here. Yet, each of us individually is well compensated through the satisfaction that comes from serving this institution in its mission of teaching, research, and service,” he said. “Without this board and the board’s ethos of working always for the betterment of this University, UConn would not be the institution it has become.”
Kruger noted that his interactions with faculty have been “an especially enriching part of my experience as trustee” and have made him come to view them as “the soul of this institution.”
“A University like this one is not simply important in the present, it is also key to shaping the future,” he said. “All across our campuses, in classrooms, labs, residence halls, athletic fields, and operating rooms, the story of UConn is being written every day in the way the University is impacting lives, both transformatively and immeasurably.”
Kruger has been deeply involved in the board’s Financial Affairs Committee, which he chaired for several years and in which he has been able to use his background in finance and administration to benefit the University.
Fellow board members praised and thanked him for his service, saying he has worked with many constituencies to foster success both inside and outside of UConn.
“You have served well, following in the big shoes of Larry McHugh,” said fellow trustee Sandy Cloud, who represents UConn Health. “Among other things, you led a robust, inclusive, and successful presidential search … I know that I speak for the board of UConn Health as well as [CEO] Andy Agwunobi, our leader, when I say you have led with high integrity always, and focused on the best for the University.”
Paul Mounds Jr., the governor’s chief operating officer and liaison to the UConn board, said Wednesday that while Lamont has not set a specific timeline for the selection of a new Board of Trustees chairman, he wants someone who will foster UConn’s economic connections with state industry and government, and who “bleeds blue” in support of UConn.
Ritter, a Hartford native, is a UConn Law alum and a past Speaker of the State House of Representatives. He is a partner in the law firm Brown Rudnick, leading its government relations practice, and has been a member of the UConn Board of Trustees since 2003. He becomes interim chairman effective immediately.
He thanked Kruger for his service, noting Kruger’s inexhaustible work ethic – often marked by 3 a.m. emails about board matters – and his commitment to the University both personally and professionally.
“I’ve always respected your service. You had the pressure of being appointed by one governor and then [experiencing] an election and doing a search for president during that time period, but you went about it in your typical, thoughtful, ethical, logical way,” Ritter said. “If anyone asks me about our chairman, I’ve always said this is a person who has the utmost integrity and who works his tail off … It’s been a joy working with you.”
The UConn Board of Trustees is the governing body for the University and is comprised of 21 members: 12 appointed by the Governor of Connecticut, two elected by University alumni, two elected by University students, and five ex-officio members, including the Governor, the UConn Health Board of Directors chair, and the Commissioners of Agriculture, Economic and Community Development, and Education.