Board of Trustees discuss financial cuts, renaming of Laurel Hall

Laurel Hall is being renamed to Lawrence T. McHugh Hall. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

The University of Connecticut Board of Trustees, headed by newly-appointed board chair Thomas T. Krueger, approved of a revised budget for the university Wednesday morning, in wake of state budget cuts on university funding earlier this year.

The $143 million in budget cuts set by the state for UConn’s 2018 and 2019 financial years mean that, for the first time in the university's history, tuition revenue will surpass state support, according to data provided by UConn Chief Financial Officer Scott Jordan.

The financial plan set forth by Jordan includes several cuts to be implemented. Tuition and fees currently make up over 40 percent of the university’s revenue, while state support only makes up about 25 percent of revenue, Jordan said.

The tuition revenue will also be increased by increasing enrollment numbers, Jordan said.

“We are increasing our revenue by $8.3 million in tuition and fees,” Jordan said. “We have trimmed costs and are continuing to do so.”

In addition to previously-scheduled tuition increases, the board approved of implementing a hiring freeze on university jobs. Pay for personnel jobs, which include administrative, maintenance, management, student payroll and graduate assistant jobs, makeup over 56 percent of the university's costs, Jordan said, with fringe benefits included.

Though layoffs are not allowed by union agreements, Jordan expects that costs for personnel salaries will decrease as higher-paid workers retire, and newer, low-cost personnel are hired to take their place. However, the hiring freeze may cause an increase in class sizes due to fewer faculty available to teach.

“We’re spending less on salary,” Jordan said. “As there continues to be budget pressure, there will be a little more difficulty getting into classes (students) need to graduate. (However,) we’re hoping that the changes will not affect the quality of life for students.”

Though the state has set for state employees to receive a raise in pay in FY20, Jordan said the university will have to examine the costs in order to balance the budget, especially since it will coincide with the conclusion of the four-year tuition plan set in FY16.

“If we want to long-term manage our financial plan… we’ll have to evaluate that,” Jordan said.

Other cuts to the budget include a decrease in spending for capital and construction projects, as well as maintenance, Jordan said.

In addition to financial deliberations, the board voted unanimously to dedicate Laurel Hall to the former chairman Lawrence “Larry” T. McHugh, who stepped down from his position in November.

Laurel will be renamed “Lawrence T. McHugh Hall,” as a reflection to McHugh's service to UConn and the board, UConn President Susan Herbst said.

“Someone who dedicated so much of his life to education…. Larry McHugh matters immensely to us,” Herbst said. “His loyalty to the university never wavered. He was always determined to do what was great for our faculty, staff, our students-- especially our students.”


Marlese Lessing is the news editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at marlese.lessing@uconn.edu. She tweets @marlese_lessing.