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UConn President Thomas Katsouleas resigns abruptly

The school’s 16th president reportedly clashed with the Board of Trustees.

The 30th Annual Virginia Film Festival at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville - Day 1 Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Virginia Film Festival

On Thursday, UConn announced that President Thomas Katsouleas will resign after less than two years on the job. Katsouleas will continue in his current role through June 30 before moving into a tenured faculty position. The school’s Board of Trustees will name an interim president at its next meeting on May 19.

Board of Trustees Chairman Dan Toscano received the president’s letter of resignation on Mar. 13, 2021 “for reasons we have discussed at length over time.”

“I am very proud of the advancements made by the University during my tenure as its 16th president,” he wrote in the letter, obtained by the CT Mirror. “UConn has fared extraordinarily well in the face of unprecedented challenges under the leadership and decision making of our leadership team and the Board. I look forward to contributing further to the continued success of the state’s flagship institution of higher education as a member of our distinguished faculty.”

Katsouleas took over for outgoing president Susan Herbst in August 2019 after spending the previous four years as the executive vice president and provost at the University of Virginia. He led UConn through the COVID-19 pandemic and, on the athletics side, the school’s transition from the AAC into the Big East.

Katsouleas’ departure was “voluntary” but a result of tension between himself and the Board of Trustees, according to the CT Mirror.

Furthermore:

Sources say his relationship with UConn’s Board of Trustees has deteriorated but called his resignation voluntary. The conflict had several causes, sources said, beginning with an unexpected announcement at his inauguration to provide free tuition for lower-income households. More recently, he announced the university would cut slated tuition increases by half without consulting with trustees.

“It wasn’t a perfect fit with the board there. That’s all,” Connecticut governor Ned Lamont told the Hartford Courant. “It wasn’t a perfect fit, but that’s OK. I love the guy. I’m really pleased he’s going to be staying very actively involved at UConn as a professor.”

Katsouleas will use a clause in his contract that allows him to become a tenured faculty member and will join the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Even though he formally submitted his resignation in March, the two sides decided to keep the news quiet until the end of the academic year to avoid distraction, per university spokesperson Stephanie Reitz via the AP.

During his tenure, Katsouleas was viewed as a pro-athletics president. When he took over, he immediately committed to UConn’s football program and often supported the school’s other teams.