STORRS, CT – Dr. Thomas C. Katsouleas was sworn in as the 16th President of the University of Connecticut (UConn) on October 4 at the UConn’s Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts in Storrs, CT.
Richard Brodhead, the former president of Duke University from 2004-17 and former Dean of Yale College, was the Keynote Speaker at the event. He hired Katsouleas at Duke and said that he is a “warm, decent, genuinely nice person. That’s not enough to qualify you to be president but, believe me, when combined with other gifts, it certainly doesn’t hurt,” The Connecticut Mirror reported.
Brodhead added that Katsouleas, a leading plasma scientist and engineer, is a problem-solver, noting that “at heart, engineers are people who see tough problems as challenges to their ingenuity. When you see a dead end, Tom is going to want to get creative and he’s going to expect you to join that fun as well,” The Connecticut Mirror reported.
Among those present at the ceremony were His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros and members of the Greek community. Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont also spoke at the event. Andrea Dennis-LaVigne, master of ceremonies and vice chair of the UConn Board of Trustees, spoke a few words of Greek at the event.
Dr. Katsouleas was unanimously elected by the UConn Board of Trustees earlier this year as its new president. In his speech, Katsouleas thanked Gov. Lamont, UConn Board of Trustees Chairman Dan Toscano, and three former UConn Presidents, Susan Herbst, Philip E. Austin, and Harry Hartley.
He quoted Isaac Newton, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”
Katsouleas said, “There are so many family and friends here and wonderful guests, about half of whom I know, with whom the few hours we have together are a glowy and emotional blur, that it feels a bit like a wedding, and since the Greek community is well-represented… From the moment Andrea LaVigne spoke Greek and the Greek community is been here, including Archbishop Elpidophoros, Fr. Alex Karloutsos of New York, and my father who traveled from Greece to be here today, I’m going to call this my ‘big fat Greek inauguration.’”
He then joked, “But please don’t break the plates” at the reception following the event.
Katsouleas then referred to the high quality level of education and the excellent students at UConn.
He also announced a new program, The Connecticut Commitment in which lower-income residents admitted to UConn as undergraduates will receive free tuition starting with the fall 2020 entering class. The news was greeted by a standing ovation from the audience.
“But affordability is not enough,” Katsouleas said. “We must continue to invest in excellence, including doubling research over the next seven to 10 years to ensure that we attract the the most distinguished faculty and diverse faculty to teach our students,” The Connecticut Mirror reported.
“To paraphrase the words of Alexander the Great, and of course I have to bring in another Greek at some point, ‘To my parents I owe my life, to my teacher I owe my love of life.’ Of course his teacher was a pretty good one, if you remember it was Aristotle… Becoming president of one of the nation’s leading, public, flagship universities, especially one with a sense of community and school spirit that is so extraordinary, was honestly beyond my dreams, so it is really better than a dream come true. So, to my partner and the love of my life Anna Maria I will say thank you for sharing this dream with me and for proving that nothing is too wonderful to be true, even two dreams realized at once,” Katsouleas said.
He concluded his speech with “Go Huskies!”
LaVigne closed the event with an invitation to the audience to address President Katsouleas in Greek as “Axios,” meaning worthy.