Kaplan announces plans to leave

University Chancellor, then President, Steven Kaplan. West Haven, 2017.

Photo courtesy of Charger Bulletin

University Chancellor, then President, Steven Kaplan. West Haven, 2017.

Steven H. Kaplan, who served as University of New Haven president from 2004 to 2022 and most recently as chancellor and CEO, announced he is leaving the university sooner than anticipated.

In February, Kaplan announced his new administrative position and appointed former athletic director Sheahon Zenger as the interim president.

However, Charles Pompea, chairman of the Board of Governors, recently wrote in an email, that “After much thought and contemplation, Dr. Kaplan has notified the Board recently that it is his desire to begin his long-deserved and fully earned sabbatical and ensuing retirement at the end of this academic year, in June 2023.”

In the email, Pompea alluded to “university politics” playing a role in Kaplan’s retirement. Initially, Kaplan said he would serve as chancellor and CEO for one year rather than two, but the board asked him to postpone his leavetaking. In his email, Pompea said that, “some [university] faculty did him a favor in helping him decide definitively that one more year of university politics was enough.”

Pompea said these politics include “actions taken and comments made by certain members of the University faculty,” many of whom were faculty “pushing” Kaplan to leave.

The Office of the President, West Haven, Aug. 10, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Lindsay Giovannone)

While Pompea said that the Board of Governors is “somewhat distressed to learn of his desire to leave earlier than expected,” the group accepted the decision “with utmost respect.” The university will continue with its plan to have Zenger serve as interim president for the next two years as they embark on a search for a new president.

According to Pompea, the Board of Governors’ “most important function” is the hiring and oversight of its president, which is “a responsibility we take quite seriously, and one we are careful not to cede to others under any circumstances.”

The letter credits Kaplan for his accomplishments and his initiatives that stabilized finances, advanced academic programs and facilities and increased the student population. Pompea noted his “steady hand” in ensuring the university thrived after the 2008 Great Recession and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pompea asked “the members of the community who care about the University of New Haven – and we believe that most of you do – to continue to make this a place where we are all focused first and foremost on the development of our students, and where working together we can help even more students realize the dream of a Charger education.”