Alumni-funded scholarships, donations should be a priority for UConn

The UConn School of Business is now offering a new alumnus-backed scholarship to help students in financial need from Hartford. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

On September 8, the University of Connecticut announced the addition of a $1 million scholarship fund for the UConn School of Business. According to the University, John Kim, an alumnus who earned his MBA from the School of Business in 1987, is funding the scholarship along with his wife, Diane.

The “Kim Family Scholarship Fund” will go toward funding students in financial need from Hartford. In coming years, the university should seek private donations earmarked for scholarship funding. As a public research university, donations earmarked for scholarships, grants and the improvement of research facilities must be prioritized.

In recent years, UConn’s athletic facilities have received substantial renovations and new construction. Much of this has been raised via private individuals through the UConn Foundation. In 2012, UConn announced a $24 million round of private fundraising going toward the construction of the Werth Family UConn Basketball Champions Center.

While these donations, and the new construction add to the prestige and capability of UConn athletics, they also prove the existence of an extremely generous community of alumni. Given the rising cost of college tuition and UConn’s budgetary issues, the university should seek donations for academics on the same scale as those for athletics.

Though it might be difficult to attract the financial commitment for academics, as compared to the construction of a physical structure, UConn’s ability to attract the highest caliber students and faculty depends, in part, on these donations. Elite research universities often receive multi-million dollar donations from alumni, either for scholarships, grants or the construction of academic and research facilities. As UConn continues to rise in world rankings, and as expansion outpaces financial capabilities, alumni donations will become an increasingly vital aspect of UConn’s success.

The UConn Foundation reported a total of $78 million raised in 2015-16 for UConn. While $16.3 million of this was earmarked for scholarship and student support, there was a combined $7.4 million raised for Morrone Stadium and the completion of the Werth Center.

John Kim and his family have earned the thanks of the UConn community with their generous support of future students. Moving forward, the university must continue to seek donations for research, academics and scholarships from our most successful alumni.  The university does not have to sacrifice donations to athletic programs in this effort, but should seek to use all resources possible to create an elite public research university. That cannot happen without the support of notable alumni for scholarships, grants and research.