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Hogan attracted to UConn by its 'steep upward trajectory'

by Elizabeth Omara-Otunnu - August 27, 2007

During a press conference Aug. 1, newly appointed President Michael J. Hogan spoke of his commitment to the academic mission of UConn as a public university, and his aspirations for the University to continue the progress it has already made. 

Hogan said he brings to the job “a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of energy, and a capacity to work with other people.”

He plans to spend a few months getting to know his surroundings before making any changes.

“There’s nothing ‘broken’ atthe University of Connecticut,” he said.

However, he said, he expects the challenges of the job to include maintaining access to higher education in the face of rising costs, increasing support for academic research, promoting diversity, and finding new sources of financial support.

Hogan said he was attracted to the University “by its steep upward trajectory, its outstanding academic reputation, and the demonstrated commitment to UConn by the governor and the General Assembly.

“At a time when states all over the country are pulling the plug on public higher education, this state is investing in UConn,” he said.

“There are not many institutions around the country that enjoy the sound financial position this university is in now.”

“This is really one of the very best jobs in higher education administration out there,” he added.

Hogan paid tribute to outgoing president Philip Austin who, he said, “has left a big footprint on this campus.”

Speaking before this year’s list was released, he said he was impressed at the University’s recent rise in the U.S. News & World Report rankings of public universities – at that time, UConn was ranked 27th in the nation – and suggested that he hopes the University will continue its climb. The latest ranking puts UConn at 24, tied with the University of Iowa and Purdue.

“Higher education is a very, very competitive market,” he said. “It’s not easy to go from 30 to 27, but once you break into the top 20, more and more good things will happen to you.”

He said the University needs to increase the amount of research grants it receives. Despite the great public support the University receives, he said, “the research side of a public research university’s mission is very competitive and very expensive … Trying to reconcile the pursuit of excellence with your access mission is a key challenge.

Newly appointed President Michael J. Hogan answers questions during a press conference at Rome Ballroom.
Newly appointed President Michael J. Hogan answers questions during a press conference at Rome Ballroom.
Photo by Peter Morenus

“Diversity is always a challenge,” he added, “but it’s one of the keys to academic excellence.”

Hogan said the University “should be pinching every penny so we can stand up and say we are using the state’s money wisely.”

He said he would also pursue other ways to bolster the University’s finances through fund-raising and the commercialization of intellectual property.

On making the transition from provost to president, he said, “I’m an academic guy, a faculty guy, and proud to say that. But I understand I have a different job now as president, and a lot of external constituents to spend time with.”

Asked which school he would root for if Iowa and UConn ever played each other, Hogan said, “I don’t bite the hand that feeds me.”

Flourishing a blue and gray striped tie with Husky dogs, he proclaimed, “I’m a Husky all the way.”

Listen to excerpts from the August 1 press conference.
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