UConn has had a week of mixed news. After achieving the rank of 18th top public university by U.S. News & World, it has come to realization that UConn will most likely not be able to maintain its academic success in the coming years.
For anyone who received President Susan Herbst’s email this past Saturday, September 16, the reality of an unprecedented budget cut passed by state legislature, House and Senate, is sobering. The Republican-lead, Democrat-approved, budget plans to gut funding for the Connecticut State College and University system including community colleges and regional universities. The biggest cuts, however, come to the state’s flagship university, UConn, with an astounding $309 million over the next two years.
In a letter to the UConn community, President Herbst says that such a cut would result in the closure of regional campuses, elimination of majors and potentially entire colleges, closure of UConn Health, elimination of international programs, elimination of Division 1 Athletic programs and cuts to scientific and medical research. While these cuts represent a worst-case-scenario, the fiscal belt will undoubtedly need to be tightened.
UConn’s 2015 budget deficit of $40 million saw a four-year tuition hike to balance the budget. Tuition hikes to eliminate a $300 million cut would not be feasible. Cuts would have to be made elsewhere.
While Governor Malloy vowed to veto this bill, citing harm to higher education, the solution will not be permanent. Unless serious negotiations occur in the proposals to follow, budgets at all state colleges will eventually be slashed.
This should be viewed as unacceptable by Connecticut residents. The university system brings wealth and value to a state that has seen many large companies, including GE and Aetna, leave in the past few years. Without strong universities that draw students from across the country, the state, and most notably small businesses, would see decreased revenue and the potential consequences far outweighs the money saved by the state by cutting higher education.
Connecticut must reassess what is important. Cuts undoubtedly need to be made to balance the budget, but the sheer scale and harm of the sudden cut to the university system would bring far more harm than good.
David Csordas is a staff columnist for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.