WILLIMANTIC, Conn. (WTNH) — Eastern Connecticut State University’s president for 18 years, announced her retirement on Thursday.

Elsa M. Nunez, was the sixth president of Eastern Connecticut State University. She was president for 18 years, starting in 2006.

In a letter to the University, Nunez wrote: “Eighteen years ago, I visited Eastern for the first time and I fell in love! I encountered a beautiful campus, inspiring students, dedicated faculty and staff, and engaged alumni. From that very first visit, I knew that Eastern was more than where I wanted to be. Eastern was where I was destined to be. I was honored and humbled to be selected as your sixth president, and, to this day, I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to serve all of you! However, no amount of love can stop the passage of time, and, for me, the time has come to embrace the next phase of my life.”

Nunez was the first Latina to serve as a university president in New England and she is credited with many significant accomplishments during her 18 years at Eastern Connecticut State University.

Under her leadership:

  • Nunez helped Eastern climb steadily in U.S. News and World Report’s annual Best Colleges
  • Nunez helped realize gains in student GPAs, SAT scores for incoming first-year students and four/six-year graduation rates.
  • Nunez submitted balanced budgets for 18 consecutive years and built the University’s reserves from $0 in 2006 to $32 million today.

According to Eastern State, Nunez also expanded on the campus’s construction, remodeling a Student Center and enhancing student life programs; construction of a 174,000-square foot Science Building in 2008; the creation of the Center for Community Engagement in 2009; and the opening of the 118,000-square foot Fine Arts Instructional Center in 2016, and a modernized Communication Building in 2018, and a renovated Goddard and Shafer Halls in 2019.

Other accomplishments under Nunez’s leadership include creation of Eastern’s first Climate Action Plan in 2009, as well as creating a “Dual College Program” in partnership with Hartford Public Schools and Quinebaug Valley Community College, to help students from Hartford High School transition to college.

According to a statement from Eastern Connecticut State University, Nunez thanked the students, colleagues, and alumni of the school for welcoming her and noted that she will be working with Eastern to find her replacement.

Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) President Terrence Cheng released the following statement on Dr. Elsa Núñez’s announcement:

“Elsa Núñez will leave a strong legacy at Eastern Connecticut State University, having served with distinction for 18 years,” President Cheng said. “Under her able leadership, the university has grown stronger, cementing itself as the state’s public liberal arts institution. She has also been an invaluable asset to the system in her role as vice president for universities. On a personal note, I have appreciated her guidance, expertise, and support over the past two years. While her retirement is certainly well-deserved, I am sad to see her go, and I know that she will continue to touch lives in whatever the next chapter holds for her.”