Connecticut’s new state budget allows the University of Connecticut to avoid “budgetary Armageddon,” University President Susan Herbst said at the UConn Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday morning.
In the new budget, UConn will lose $143 million in state aid over two years, Herbst said. The original budget the Connecticut Legislature proposed would have cut $309 million from UConn over two years, according to Herbst.
Scott Jordan, Executive Vice President for Administration and Chief Financial Officer, said the cuts were another example of “the larger trend of the continued declining state support for the operating budget of the university.”
According to Herbst, while the budget is a “significant improvement,” the cuts are equal to almost all reductions in state aid since 2010 combined.
In response to the cuts, the university will take counter-measures such as a strategic hiring freeze, restructuring of administrative functions, reduction in non-essential services and postponement of high-cost projects, according to Herbst.
The hiring freeze would be focused on the staff of UConn, not the faculty, Herbst said.
“We must continue to hire faculty in order to meet the teaching needs of the university,” Herbst said. “The moment a university stops hiring faculty is the moment it falls into a very steep decline.”
Downsizing the administrative sector will occur by eliminating positions either currently open or that open up in the near future, Herbst said. She also said services will be merged, closed or streamlined to achieve savings over time.
“It is a painful process and will require difficult decisions,” Herbst said.
The projects postponed include the renovation of the Edward V. Gant Science Complex, which would have begun during the summer of 2018, according to a UConn Today article.
In addition, the STEM Science One project and some high-cost maintenance projects will be delayed, Jordan said at the board’s Financial Affairs Committee meeting Wednesday.
Jordan said he foresees the budget increasing from $200 to $290 million two years from now, which will allow construction of delayed projects to start or continue.
The Board was unable to determine a provisional budget for the university, as it could not be completed until the state confirms the money allocated to the university, according to University Spokesperson Stephanie Reitz.
Reitz also said students will not face a tuition hike for the spring semester.
“If there was one positive benefit to facing budgetary Armageddon back in September, it was that it reawakened UConn Nation,” Herbst said.
Shelby Haydu is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.