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Familiar face returns as leader at UConn Health

Dr. Andrew Agwunobi
Paul Horton
/
UConn
Dr. Andrew Agwunobi

A national search for a new leader at UConn Health culminated with the announcement of a familiar face Wednesday.

Dr. Andrew Agwunobi, who led the health system from 2014 to 2022 before taking a job in the private sector, will begin as new CEO starting Friday.

Agwunobi is a pediatrician with an MBA from Stanford Business School who also served as interim president of the University of Connecticut in 2021 and 2022.

“I feel like I’ve been on a two-year sabbatical and I’m back again,” he said.

In 2022, Agwunobi announced he was leaving the school to take a position with health insurer Humana Inc. On Wednesday, he said he was “honored to return to an organization that I deeply care for” and that he looks forward to working with “stakeholders here at UConn Health, the university and the state” to advance UConn Health’s mission.

“I believe in the clinical care we provide to the people of Connecticut,” Agwunobi said. “I believe in the research, I believe in the education.”

UConn officials initially selected a pool of 20 candidates for the position before narrowing the search to four people. All of those candidates interviewed with Gov. Ned Lamont and other state officials, UConn President Radenka Maric said.

“I’m thrilled that Andy was available and that he was interested,” Maric said. “His deep knowledge of UConn Health and the broader university makes him the perfect leader.”

Agwunobi was interim president of the University of Connecticut following the resignation of the school’s previous president, Thomas Katsouleas, in 2021.

Agwunobi returns amid declining federal pandemic aid and questions about the financial stability of UConn Health.

While officials say clinical care revenues are up and state aid has declined over the last decade, earlier this year, UConn leadership cited potential budget shortfalls as they asked the state for more money.

The state and UConn have also hired a consultant to review the system’s finances in order to help ensure its fiscal sustainability.

Officials said the review by Cain Brothers, an advising firm, was not yet finalized, but Lamont referenced the report Wednesday.

“They’ve come, taken a little look about UConn and they have a report,” Lamont said. “That’s going to be up to Andy and the team, in terms of how they want to proceed.”

The health system’s interim CEO, Dr. Bruce Liang, will continue as dean of the School of Medicine, the school said in a statement.

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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