Interim UConn President Dr. Andrew Agwunobi, who has led the university since July 2021 and UConn Health since 2014, announced today that that he is leaving UConn effective Feb. 20 for a new opportunity at Humana, a private sector health care company. The Board of Trustees will meet on Jan. 26 and expects to appoint the university’s Vice President for Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Radenka Maric, interim president effective Feb. 1, with Agwunobi remaining for a transition period through Feb. 20.
Agwunobi has simultaneously served in the role of interim president of the University and CEO of UConn Health since the resignation of Thomas Katsouleas. The Dean of the UConn School of Medicine, Bruce Liang, is expected to be named interim CEO of UConn Health, also effective Feb. 1.
Board Chair Daniel Toscano ’87 (BUS) announced that a national search for president will begin immediately, with the goal of naming UConn’s next president by this fall.
“I want to thank Dr. Agwunobi for his exemplary service to UConn and UConn Health over these last seven years, and I wish him all the best,” says Toscano. “Dr. Andy is an executive of the highest caliber who has been both an outstanding leader and a great partner to the Board of Trustees and the UConn Health Board of Directors. While we are sad to see him go, Andy is pursuing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lead a ground-breaking effort to transform health care delivery as we know it. It is not atypical for UConn’s best to be sought after for such watershed opportunities and I know that this endeavor will be the capstone of Andy’s life-long passion in health care. We are fortunate to have had his stewardship at UConn for as long as we did. His impact on our academic medical center will be felt for years to come. And he will forever be a Husky.”
“I also want to thank Radenka Maric and Bruce Liang for their willingness to serve in these roles on an interim basis. Both are outstanding longtime senior leaders at the University and have played vital roles in helping to make UConn the incredibly vibrant, successful institution it is. We as a board have immense confidence in them and we will be working very closely together in the next several months. This continues to be a period of transition for UConn, as we knew it would be, and we look ahead to a successful search process at this critical time in UConn’s and Connecticut’s history,” says Toscano.
Sanford Cloud Jr. is a UConn trustee and the chair of the UConn Health Board of Directors.
“Dr. Agwunobi has been an extraordinary leader for UConn Health in every respect: highly effective, results-oriented, driven, thoughtful and always diplomatic,” says Cloud. “In his seven-plus years at UConn Health, he has transformed this institution through relentless efforts to spur growth and bring about positive change. We are very sorry to see him go and wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors. I also want to thank Dr. Liang for agreeing to serve as CEO in an interim capacity. We as a board hold Bruce in the highest regard and we look forward to continuing to work closely with him.”
Agwunobi was an executive at large hospitals and health care systems prior to joining UConn Health.
“It has been an honor to serve as CEO of UConn Health and as interim president of this amazing University,” says Agwunobi. “I had no plans to leave UConn, but a unique and unexpected opportunity in the private sector presented itself and while I am excited about this new chapter, the decision to leave UConn was a difficult one. I am immensely grateful for my time at UConn and UConn Health and I wish the Board of Trustees, the UConn Health Board of Directors, my colleagues, and our faculty, staff and students all the best. I especially want to thank Chairman Toscano and Chairman Sandy Cloud for their friendship and steadfast support over the years. It was a privilege and a pleasure to work with them and all the members of both boards in a way that was always collegial, productive, effective and, most importantly, in the spirit of genuine partnership. I know that UConn is in good hands.”
Maric has served as Vice President for Research since 2017 and oversees the University’s $375 million research enterprise at the main campus in Storrs, the UConn Health campus in Farmington, the School of Law in Hartford, and four regional campuses around the state. Previously, she served as the inaugural executive director of UConn’s $132 million Innovation Partnership Building (2015 – 2017) which houses state-of-art specialized equipment and research centers of excellence and serves as a nexus for industry-academic partnerships. She is a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor and the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund Professor of Sustainable Energy in UConn’s Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering and Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Maric worked for large and small corporations and federal labs in Japan, Canada, and the US before coming to Connecticut 12 years ago. She is an internationally renowned expert in batteries and fuel cells. She was appointed by Governor Lamont to serve on the Board of Directors of Connecticut Innovations. Since Maric’s arrival, research funding at UConn has soared upward from an average of about $184.5 million in 2017 to a record-breaking $375 million in the 2020-2021 academic year.
“Each year UConn is hitting a new high in our academic excellence, creativity, research, global engagement, partnership and entrepreneurial activities,” says Maric. “With the support of our state government, communities, and industry we are going to continue to keep our students at the center of who we are and prepare them not just for good jobs but for leadership roles in addressing societal challenges.”
“I am grateful for the support of our visionary governor, legislators, donors, the Board of Trustees and Board of Directors, excellent faculty, committed staff, and other hardworking leaders. As we welcome our students back to our campuses to start the spring semester our number one priority is the safety and wellbeing of our community. I’m asking all of my colleagues to join me in working toward the continued success of this institution, and in collaboratively finding creative ways during this uncertain time to continue to support our students, communities, and the state as we strive for excellence.”
Liang has been Dean of the School of Medicine since 2015. The CEO of UConn Health reports to the University president under the “One UConn” model.
“I’m honored to accept this interim role and look forward to doing all I can to support UConn Health, our outstanding leadership team, dedicated faculty and staff, and remarkable students,” says Liang. “I know that I join many others in expressing my thanks and best wishes to Dr. Agwunobi. He has been a pleasure to work with and was a transformational leader for UConn Health. I look forward to continuing to work closely with Radenka Maric in her interim role, as well as with our Board of Directors in the months ahead.”
In keeping with University bylaws, Toscano, as board chair, will serve as chair of the search committee for UConn’s next president. The board expects to name the Advisory Search Committee for President, as well as its smaller steering committee, in the coming weeks. The committee will be composed of faculty, staff, alumni, and students.
Toscano has pledged to hold listening sessions with faculty, staff, and students regarding their ambitions for the University and what is most important to them when it comes to the University’s next president.