Radenka Maric, a distinguished UConn faculty member who has led UConn’s surging research enterprise to new heights as an administrator, has been named UConn’s new interim president.
Members of the Board of Trustees voted unanimously and enthusiastically Wednesday to appoint Maric, who will serve as interim president starting Feb. 1. She will serve as successor to Interim President Dr. Andrew Agwunobi, who will assist with the transition until he leaves later in February for a new position in private industry.
Maric is a highly respected researcher and mentor who joined UConn’s faculty in 2010, and has served for the last five years as its vice president for research, innovation, and entrepreneurship. She will serve as interim president while the University throughout the planned search for the permanent appointee.
“I am honored and humbled to serve as interim President of the University of Connecticut and UConn Health,” Maric says. “UConn strives to be the place where all students, regardless of the zip code and country they were born and raised in, will have equal opportunities and be fully prepared for their life journey upon graduation.
“We teach our students the skills sets of creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship as they explore the opportunities and decide their path for their life journey,” she adds. “I will work hard alongside our excellent and committed faculty, staff, alumni, state, and donors to positively impact our students, the university community, and the state of Connecticut.”
Maric holds the rank of Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor, and is the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund Professor of Sustainable Energy in the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering and Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
Trustees praised the choice of Maric as interim president, citing her work as a respected researcher and leader of UConn’s research enterprise, which last year attracted a record-setting $375 million-plus in external funding.
She also is dedicated to mentoring students, both in their academic and laboratory activities and by establishing more than $100,000 in fellowship awards to ensure financial constraints do not hamper their pursuits.
UConn Board of Trustees Chairman Daniel Toscano said Wednesday that Maric’s dedication to UConn is evident in her words and actions – as large as her impressive body of work, and as simple but profound as the principle she often repeats in her emails: “Students first, UConn always.”
Toscano said Maric has worked to expand UConn’s research mission, foster collaborative research between Storrs and UConn Health, and develop state and private industry partnerships that have helped expand tech transfer, innovation, and entrepreneurial activity.
“Dr. Maric’s dynamic and very successful leadership of the University’s research mission, as well as her strong experience in working across campuses and as a member of the senior leadership teams of two UConn presidents, provides an excellent basis for her to lead the University as a whole,” Toscano told trustees in the resolution document recommending her appointment.
Maric holds multiple patents, has been elected to prestigious professional organizations, published hundreds of scholarly works, received more than $40 million in research grants, and is fluent in four languages with a working knowledge of others.
She has said the first order of business will be working with others throughout UConn to return to in-person learning on its campuses as planned next week, doing so in the most safe and healthy manner possible for its students, faculty, and staff amid ongoing COVID concerns.
Maric said during Wednesday’s trustees meeting that she is grateful to the many students, faculty, and staff who have reached out with words of support, and that she looks forward to feedback from constituencies throughout the University community.
“We all care and want to present excellence and opportunity for all of our students,” she said. “I came to UConn because of you, and in this interim position I will serve my best because of you.”
She is an elected member of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and has also earned many other professional honors and designations for her work.
Maric is a native of the former Yugoslavia and holds a B.S. from Belgrade University, and an M.S. and Ph.D. from Kyoto University in Japan. She worked in Japan for about a decade after graduation before moving to Atlanta to work for a fuel cell research company in 2001.
She transitioned in 2004 to become a group leader and program manager for Institute for Fuel Cell Innovation in Canada before joining UConn in 2010 as a faculty member in the departments of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, and Materials Science and Engineering.