As reported by the Danbury News-Times, May 27, 2008.

UConn President Sets a New Path

By Eileen FitzGerald

Iowa native Michael J. Hogan visited his sister in Connecticut for more than two decades, collaborated with a University of Connecticut professor on a book, and came to like the state.

Now he's nine months into leading the state's flagship university, with a goal of moving it into the top 20 public universities in the country. It is now ranked 24th.

Hogan's already tightened the university's administrative structure, begun a new tack to deal with the thorny debate on how to best improve and expand the university's hospital, and will focus his tenure on expanding graduate programs and research opportunities.

He also spent some evenings at what he called the university's spring break "happening."

"The university is basically in good shape," Hogan told the editorial board of The News-Times last week.

He said he was impressed with the state's support of the university in recent years and called capital investments at the facility "light years ahead" of other state universities.

"We've made our reputation on our undergraduate program. The next step is for the university to add selective graduate programs and to beef up our research portfolio," Hogan said. "This will be the focus of my presidency."

He knows what success in that area looks like.

Hogan came to UConn from his post as provost and executive vice president of the University of Iowa, which ranked alongside UConn as the 24th top public university in the country.

But whereas Iowa has 24 graduate programs that bring in $420 million in research grants, UConn has half a dozen graduate programs that bring in about $200 million.

Hogan said building on the most important graduate programs means finding a more viable path to expand the capacity of the university's hospital. It would improve the facility's chance to break even or increase its revenue, expand research at the facility, and help draw accomplished staff and medical students.

The university trains about 40 percent of the dentists in the state and many of the doctors, Hogan said.

He said if the university hospital improves its capacity, millions of dollars in research money would be available for training, biomedical and stem cell research, and nanotechnologies.

Last year, a campaign to build a case for a new hospital at the University of Connecticut Health Center failed when other hospitals in the state argued against the need for more beds.

So Hogan began talking to the hospitals with the idea of forming a partnership with the university.

He said he will work with the deans of the university to determine which graduate school program should be expanded. He said the choices will be made by weighing student demand, ability to generate external funding, and opportunities for partnering with the private sector for ongoing research and alignment to state work force needs.

Another way to chose which graduate programs to expand or give added resources is to pick those already close to the top 20 in the nation, including the law school, which is ranked 22nd.

Hogan said he will also expand the undergraduate honors program.

He restructured administration so the Storrs and Farmington campuses work more closely together and reframed the approach to research to allow grants for work by multi-disciplinary teams.

"It will enable us to increase our research funding and will have an economic impact on the state," Hogan said.

He said UConn has been moving steadily upward and he expects it to continue.

The incoming freshmen class has 250 more students and the highest average college board scores ever. It is also the most diverse class in the university's history.

University of Connecticut

  • Founded in 1881.
  • Fall 2007 enrollment -- 20,846 undergraduates, 7,831 graduate and professional-degree students.
  • Main campus -- Storrs. Five regional campuses with four schools and colleges.

President Michael Hogan Goals

  • Improve from 24th public university in the nation to top 20.
  • Expand some graduate programs, research and grant funds.
  • Expand undergraduate honors program.
  • Expand capacity of university hospital through collaboration with other hospitals.