STORRS, Conn. (WTNH) — The University of Connecticut’s Board of Trustees removed the interim tag from Radenka Maric’s title on Wednesday, appointing the 56-year-old engineer to be the school’s 17th president.

Maric, who previously served for five years as the school’s vice president for research, innovation, and entrepreneurship, became interim president in February when Dr. Andrew Agwunobi left the interim job to become an executive at Humana Inc.

Maric officially succeeds Thomas Katsouleas who resigned in July 2021 after serving less than two years as UConn’s president. amid reports of tension between him and the board.

A native of the former Yugoslavia, Maric joined UConn’s faculty in 2010 and taught in the departments of chemical and biomolecular engineering and materials science and engineering. She has published more than 300 papers and holds six patents.

Dan Toscano, the chairman of the Board of Trustees, said Maric emerged as the best choice for the job after a national search that included more than 150 candidates.

“She is a force of nature: deeply committed to UConn, determined to get results, and all-in when it comes to leading this institution into a future that will be defined by success and achievement,” Toscano said at the board meeting.

Maric becomes the first internal candidate to be named president since Harry Hartley in 1990 and is the school’s second female president. The first, Susan Herbst, preceded Katouleas and served from 2010 to 2019.

“Being named president of the University of Connecticut is the honor of a lifetime,” she told the board. “I am proud and humbled to have your confidence and your trust.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.