Susan Herbst was appointed as the 15th President of the University of Connecticut by its Board of Trustees in December of 2010, and arrived on campus in June of 2011. She is the first female president of the University, which was founded in 1881.
Since that time, she has led multiple initiatives to strengthen teaching, research and service at the University. Chief among them is her four-year plan, approved by the University’s Board of Trustees in December 2011, to hire 300 new tenured or tenure-track faculty members at UConn – above and beyond filling vacancies – to significantly enhance course offerings and the University’s research capability. The initiative has resulted in new faculty hires across multiple disciplines, including both the sciences and humanities, building on existing faculty strengths as well as investing in emerging fields.
President Herbst has also led the implementation of two recent major state investments in UConn: Next Generation Connecticut and Bioscience Connecticut, both of which were passed by the Connecticut state legislature and signed into law by Governor Dannel P. Malloy in 2013 and 2011, respectively.
Next Generation Connecticut is a more than $1.5 billion endeavor that will expand educational opportunities, research, and innovation in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines at UConn over the next decade, as well as add new faculty in the humanities.
The cornerstone of this effort is a major increase in the University’s enrollment, the expansion of our faculty – in addition to UConn’s current faculty hiring initiative – and new and updated facilities to accommodate enhanced STEM research and teaching, as well as UConn’s growing population. It also will support the academic missions, and the expansion of critical programs, at UConn’s Hartford and Stamford campuses.
Bioscience Connecticut is an $864 million initiative that is revitalizing the UConn Health enterprise, expanding enrollment in the medical and dental classes, building new business incubators, creating centers of excellence with neighboring institutions, and more. Expansion plans include building a new world-class patient tower, an outpatient ambulatory center, and parking garages. Existing facilities will undergo major renovation, making room for updated infrastructure, state-of-the-art research laboratories, and modern educational spaces. Through Bioscience Connecticut, business incubator space at the University will double.
Additional prominent clinician-scientists will also be recruited to the faculty to contribute toward UConn Health’s academic, clinical, and research programs.
Bioscience Connecticut was critical to attracting The Jackson Laboratory to create a new billion-dollar personalized medicine laboratory on the UConn Health campus in Farmington as part of a new partnership with the University.
In addition, President Herbst announced in 2012 that UConn would relocate one of its regional campuses, currently located in suburban West Hartford, back to downtown Hartford, where it was initially located in 1939 before being moved out of the city in the 1970s.
In June 2014, it was announced that the new campus would be located and constructed at the site of the former Hartford Times building on Prospect Street. The $115 million project will house 2,300 students and 250 employees, and be designed as a neighborhood campus anchored by a main building in the heart of downtown with other spaces located throughout the area. Classes are expected to begin in fall 2017.
One of President Herbst’s other priorities is dramatically increasing the level of philanthropic giving to UConn through the UConn Foundation. Along with Joshua Newton, who began as president of the UConn Foundation in 2013, she has set the goal of eventually raising at least $100 million in new gifts per year, with a long-term goal of reaching an endowment value of $1 billion.
Prior to her appointment at UConn, President Herbst served as executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer of the University System of Georgia, where she led 15 university presidents and oversaw the academic missions for all 35 public universities in Georgia. Before arriving in Georgia, she was provost and executive vice president at the University at Albany (SUNY), and also served as officer in charge of the university from 2006 to 2007, upon the death of Kermit L. Hall. She previously served as the dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Temple University.
Born in New York City and raised in Peekskill, N.Y., Herbst received her B.A. in Political Science from Duke University in 1984, and her Ph.D. in communication theory and research from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication in Los Angeles in 1989.
Herbst spent 14 years at Northwestern University, joining the faculty in 1989 and serving until her departure to Temple in 2003. At Northwestern she held a variety of positions including professor of political science and chair of the department.
She is a scholar of public opinion, media, and American politics, and is author of four books and many articles in these areas, most recently, Rude Democracy: Civility and Incivility in American Politics (2010). Along with Benjamin Page, Lawrence Jacobs, and Adam Berinsky, she edits the University of Chicago Press series in American Politics. She serves on the Board of Directors of the American Council on Education.