Radenka Maric, an acclaimed innovator in clean energy technology whose leadership as a vice president helped propel UConn to new heights in research funding, was formally inaugurated as the 17th president of the University of Connecticut in a ceremony Friday afternoon at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts.
Reflecting on UConn’s strengths – from its pursuit of research to its state-of-the-art facilities, from the enterprise-wide commitment to sustainability to the patient care at UConn Health – Maric said the common factor in all of them is the extraordinary quality of UConn students, faculty, staff, alumni, and supporters.
“UConn is a great university, and it is all of you who make UConn great,” she said to the audience at Jorgensen and to those watching a livestream of the ceremony.
Listing a series of recent achievements and successes by students, researchers, faculty members, and clinicians, Maric concluded that “UConn’s future is bright,” as long as the spirit of shared pursuit of excellence remains strong in the University community.
“UConn’s future depends on all of us working together,” she said.
Maric was vice president for research, innovation, and entrepreneurship for five years – during which time UConn received record-high levels of grant funding — before becoming interim president in January 2022. The Board of Trustees confirmed her as the 17th president in the institution’s history in September 2022.
Maric joined UConn’s College of Engineering faculty in 2010 and holds the rank of Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor. She is also the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund Professor of Sustainable Energy in the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering and Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
During the ceremony on Friday, presided over by Provost Anne D’Alleva, speakers praised Maric’s energy and vision as an educator and leader.
“You’ll hear it over and over and over again whenever she speaks: it’s always ‘students first,’” said Dan Toscano ’87 (BUS), chairman of the Board of Trustees.
“This is the moment that UConn declares its intentions for the next quarter century and beyond,” Toscano said. “With great leadership we will continue UConn’s ascent as one of the nation’s best flagship public universities.”
The formal ceremony began with a procession led by student musicians from the School of Fine Arts, and included the deans of UConn’s 13 schools and colleges led by Bearer of the Mace Jennifer Morenus and University Marshal Del Siegle, carrying the Baton. The regalia and symbolism hearken back to the earliest days of universities in the Middle Ages.
In a video greeting, Gov. Ned Lamont praised Maric as “an energizer,” saying she brings a tireless passion to the position.
“What you do at UConn is invaluable, and what you do for the state of Connecticut is so meaningful,” Lamont said.
Maric was formally invested with the office of president by Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz. Also in attendance were Comptroller Sean Scanlon, Attorney General William Tong, former UConn presidents Philip Austin, Susan Herbst, and Thomas Katsouleas, and former chairmen of the Board of Trustees Lawrence McHugh and Thomas E. Kruger.
Musical accompaniment was provided by students in the Herald Trumpets, Trumpet Ensemble, and String Quartet, along with a special performance of “American Rhapsody (Romance for Violin and Piano)” by Associate Professor of Violin and Viola Solomiya Ivakhiv and Assistant-Professor-in-Residence Dmitriy Glivinskiy.
The piece, composed by Grammy-winning Professor of Music Composition Kenneth Fuchs, was arranged to pay tribute to Maric’s vision of an expansive and inclusive American identity.
A running theme throughout the ceremony was mentorship, vividly testified to by Justin Roller ’13 Ph.D., who became Maric’s doctoral student after years of working together in a startup company and Canadian research organization.
“Success requires a strong mentor and a teacher at some time in your life,” said Roller, currently the Semiconductor Global Strategic Account Manager at Thermo Fisher Scientific. “My story is not unique. Radenka has taken many people under her wing.”
Toscano observed that if all of Maric’s current and former students and mentees could be gathered together, they would fill Jorgensen.
It’s an approach that Maric said she plans to continue as president, vowing to put students first at all times in her administration.
“What makes UConn great?” she asked. “Our students.”