Henry Koffler was chancellor of the University of Massachusetts when he was selected to become the 16th president of the University of Arizona. Earlier positions held by Koffler include vice president of academic affairs at the University of Minneapolis from 1975 to 1979, and several positions, including department head of biological sciences, at Purdue University from 1947 to 1974.
Born in Vienna on Sept. 17, 1922, Koffler became a naturalized citizen. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona in 1943, a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1944 and a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin in 1947. Koffler is a distinguished microbiologist and biochemist who has earned numerous awards and recognitions, including the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Eli Lilly Award in Bacteriology and Immunology. He is the first UA graduate to also serve as president.
Koffler led the University during a time of significant growth and helped to establish one of the first offices of academic development in the nation. The University’s role has gone beyond the community and now reaches to international commerce with ties to Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom and elsewhere. Koffler also is recognized for his contributions to undergraduate education, including the expansion of the general education and honors programs, a 30 percent increase in student enrollment, the implementation of the first online student information system, the improvement of academic connections with community colleges, and efforts to improve the enrollment rates and success of minority students.
During Koffler’s tenure, several new teaching and research buildings were constructed, including the Chemistry and Biological Sciences Building (which was renamed the Henry Koffler Building in 2000), the Gould-Simpson building, a new Center for Creative Photography, the Karl Eller Center (now the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship) and a renovated Centennial Hall.
In 1991, the Arizona Board of Regents designated him President Emeritus and presented him with the Regents' Medallion.
He later conceived of and helped develop Academy Village, a retirement community in Tucson designed to meet the physical needs of its members and provide a stimulating environment in which residents can lead intellectually satisfying, creative and healthy lives.