There is word of an approved state budget that won’t severely affect University of Connecticut tuition or result in staff layoffs, according to Executive Vice President for Administration and Chief Financial Officer Scott Jordan, who met with Undergraduate Student Government senators at the USG Senate meeting Wednesday night.
“I'm hearing that there was a handshake deal today and I'm hearing that UConn won’t be cut that badly,” Jordan said.
While he was hesitant to confirm any deal, Jordan discussed the fact that the initial proposed cut of $300 million won’t be imposed. According to Jordan, the decided cut won’t be extremely detrimental to the university.
Jordan presented the expenditure and revenue of the university, breaking down the percentages of the state budget that go to each expense. He also discussed the potential passing of the budget for UConn.
According to the finance reports, a large percentage of the current budget goes to Personal Services, which includes salaries of the faculty and staff of the university.
In order to reduce the expenses spent on Personal Services, UConn has imposed a selective hiring freeze in which they are not bringing in any new staff members, Jordan said.
This will have little effect on the current semester, but according to Jordan, UConn typically has a turnover of 1,000 faculty or staff every year and those who leave at the end of the school year will not be replaced in order to cut the school’s spending.
In the latest State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) Agreement approved earlier this year, unions representing UConn’s staff agreed upon reduced health care benefits and no pay raises as a way to reduce the budget in exchange for no staff layoffs, according to Jordan.
The majority of the UConn staff is a part of a union, with only 300 individuals choosing to not be a part of one, so this agreement was decided on by a majority of the university's faculty, Jordan said.
Another effort to reduce university spending is being made in every department. UConn ordered each of the departments to cut their spending by three percent, and, so far, this has been achieved, Jordan said.
USG Senators had a chance to ask Jordan about the budget itself and the effect it will have on UConn. The senators focused on tuition, asking how the approved budget cuts would affect the yearly cost of attendance and what the tuition money is used for.
Tuition is expected to rise in the coming years, according to Jordan, although he believes the raise won’t be a “devastating” amount. There is already a plan set in place for the coming years, Jordan said.
“We hope the tuition goes up only a modest amount,” Jordan said.
Jordan confirmed that the majority of tuition goes right to services for students.
“Tuition and state money is mostly used for curricular experience. Fees are used for only that intended purpose,” Jordan said.
One proposed plan is to include the cost of the university's technology such as WiFi into the tuition cost, according to Jordan.
The conversation then turned to how budget cuts would affect UConn’s branch campuses.
“If it was the cut that was suggested a few weeks ago, we’d have to make big decisions about the branches,” Jordan said. “But if the budget I’m hearing (about) passes, we should still evaluate everything we do, but it wouldn’t be as dire.”
Big construction projects, such as the new Recreation Center, were also discussed. According to Jordan, all plans for future construction are still in place and students planning to graduate before the opening of these buildings don’t have to worry about the construction cost for those projects.
“Fees for construction [are] only charged to those who will be able to use it. For example, the new Rec Center isn’t being paid for yet,” Jordan said. “Students will start being charged in 2019.”
The Senate wrapped up with announcements about a Town Hall meeting Monday, Oct. 23 to discuss club funding for this year. The meeting is open to all students.
Molly Desrochers is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.