The Charger Blog

University Celebrates Legacy of Longtime University Leaders

Members of the University community gathered recently to recognize Dr. Steven H. Kaplan and Mrs. Anemone C. Schweizer-Kaplan for their leadership and dedication to the University over the last nearly two decades.

May 30, 2023

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

An aerial view of the celebration.
Members of the University community gathered to celebrate the legacy of the Kaplans.

When Martin O'Connor ’76, M.Div., J.D., first met Steven H. Kaplan, Ph.D., shortly after he joined the University of New Haven as president, Prof. O’Connor saw someone with a bold vision for the University. Over the next nearly 20 years, Prof. O’Connor saw Dr. Kaplan continue to develop – and follow through with – ambitious plans to position the University as a global institution.

Prof. O’Connor shared his memories of Dr. Kaplan’s leadership as part of a celebration held in honor of Dr. Kaplan’s and Mrs. Anemone Schweizer-Kaplan’s distinguished service to the University. Prof. O’Connor described Dr. Kaplan as someone who “always did what was right for the University.

“Steve Kaplan has made us a truly international institution,” said Dr. O’Connor, associate professor of fire science and emergency management and University chaplain. “We’ve been transformed into a place we can all be proud of. He’s helped make us the diverse community that we are. He has helped make us a university in a classic sense, and for that we should all be grateful.”

‘He cared deeply’

Dr. Kaplan joined the University as its sixth president in 2004. After serving in that role for 18 years, he was named the University’s first chancellor in 2022. He led the University through the most prosperous period in its history, expanding the University’s reach well beyond its main campus in West Haven, enabling it to make a global impact.

Under his leadership, the University opened campuses in Orange, Connecticut, in the former world headquarters of Hubbell, as well as in Prato, Italy. He has also helped to grow and increasingly diversify the student body, which includes students from around the world.

Carol Koziatek ’92 MBA, who recently retired as the University’s vice president of human resources and Title IX coordinator, also shared her memories of working with Dr. Kaplan. She credits the vibrancy on campus to his commitment and vision.

“Steve Kaplan promised we’d have fun, work hard, and make a difference,” she said. “He was right. His care – and action – when a student or an employee came upon a hardship was unparalleled. He cared deeply.”

Dr. Steven H. Kaplan thanked members of the University community for their support.
Dr. Steven H. Kaplan thanked members of the University community for their support.
‘Positioned us well for the future’

As part of his dedication to continue to strengthen the University’s position as a top institution in the region, Dr. Kaplan spearheaded The Charger Challenge: The Campaign for the University of New Haven. Launched in 2016, the comprehensive campaign was a precursor to the University’s Centennial in 2020. The ambitious campaign endeavored to raise $100 million. It went on to surpass its goal, raising $167 million, including $32 million in grants and contracts.

The University’s new Bergami Center for Science, Technology, and Innovation was the centerpiece of the campaign. It was one of many new buildings that opened on campus during his tenure as president. Other new facilities included Gehring Hall (home to the renowned Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science), Celentano and Westside Halls, the Peterson Performance Center, and the Beckerman Recreation Center – where the event honoring the Kaplans was held.

“Where we are standing now was, at one time, modular trailers,” recalled George Synodi, MBA, vice president for finance and administration. “So much was added under Steve Kaplan’s watch. So much has happened because of him. He’s positioned us well for the future.”

Dorinda Borer ’92 MBA and Kevin Ryan ’90 M.A., present a citation to the Kaplans.
Dorinda Borer ’92 MBA and Kevin Ryan ’90 M.A., present a citation to the Kaplans.
‘We are so grateful’

As part of the event, the University community watched a video that paid tribute to the Kaplans’ dedication and highlighted the many contributions they’ve made to the University. It included a diverse group of Chargers, from Board of Governors members to faculty and alumni, who discussed the important impact the Kaplans have made, and it featured clips from the address Dr. Kaplan delivered at his inauguration.

Connecticut State Representatives Dorinda Borer ’92 MBA and Kevin Ryan ’90 M.A., both “proud alumni” and adjunct professors, also presented the Kaplans a citation from the Connecticut Governor’s office and the General Assembly.

A champion of the humanities, Dr. Kaplan was passionate about bringing the humanities to individuals outside of those fields. As part of his final major University address, he told the Class of 2023 during his Commencement address that he hopes they will “lead lives that are continuously being enriched by such things as the visual and performing arts, literature and history, and scientific and mathematical inquiry.”

Mrs. Anemone Schweizer-Kaplan addresses members of the University community.
Mrs. Anemone Schweizer-Kaplan addresses members of the University community.

Sheahon Zenger, Ph.D., interim president of the University, has witnessed firsthand Dr. Kaplan’s passion for the humanities – and for sharing that with students – when they taught an Honors literature class together soon after Dr. Zenger’s arrival in 2019.

“I learned why he was an award-winning faculty member in years past,” said Dr. Zenger. “He has accomplished so much at the University. His commitment to the University is unparalleled.

“Anemone has also played an important role in the beautification of our campus,” he continued. “We are so grateful for her contributions to the arts and to our community.”

‘It’s been an incredible 19 years’

Over the last nearly 20 years, Mrs. Schweizer-Kaplan has played a critical role in expanding and deepening relationships with the University’s Board of Governors members. Her relationships with the University’s most generous benefactors have helped create exciting opportunities for students, including scholarships that invest in their success.

An avid supporter of the University’s theater arts program and the Seton Gallery, Mrs. Schweizer-Kaplan has drawn on her own background in art and interior design to enhance the University. A dedicated volunteer in the local and University communities, she assisted with the development of Celentano Hall and the Maxcy Quad.

“I’ve been glad to know the students at the University of New Haven,” she said. “I’m glad to have been a part of the University community.”

“She was always there for me, for the University, and for the students,” added Dr. Kaplan.

Dr. Kaplan will transition to president emeritus at the end of the fiscal year in June. The Kaplans’ legacy will continue to live on at the University. As part of the event, Brian Otis, EMBA, vice president for University Advancement, announced the commissioning of an oil painting of the Kaplans. It will, fittingly, be displayed in Anemone and Steven Kaplan Hall, the home of the University’s admissions office.

“Without the faculty and staff, past and present, who helped us get here, we probably wouldn’t be here,” said Dr. Kaplan as he thanked the many members of the University community who came to toast him and Mrs. Schweizer-Kaplan. “It’s been an incredible 19 years. It’s been very gratifying, and I can’t think of a better way to spend 19 years than with all of you.”