University of Connecticut president Susan Herbst, Governor Dannel Malloy and state senator Mae Flexer visited UConn’s Avery Point campus on Monday to discuss the proposed $300 million cut in university funding.
Malloy said the Avery Point campus could close if the budget passes, but that he believes UConn should be protected from the cuts.
“We cannot allow this budget to take a gigantic step in destroying the University of Connecticut and rolling back all of the wonderful progress that has been made throughout its history since 1881. This is not the time to take UConn apart, to set it apart and to quite frankly lose all the momentum it has,” Malloy said.
Malloy said one of the things people consistently praise Connecticut for is the quality of its education, specifically its higher education and the state should not destroy that.
Herbst said the budget would greatly affect the university and that it would take a long time to recover from it. She said she hopes the legislature doesn’t kill what she called a pipeline from UConn to industry and healthcare.
“We’re just never going to recover as a state economy if we don’t have the economic engine that is the University of Connecticut and all its students feeding it,” Herbst said.
Herbst spoke on the danger of UConn Health closing, something she has said would likely happen if the proposed budget becomes law.
“UConn Health has a hospital [and] we have clinical services, but it also has an accredited medical school and dental school. The doctors that we train at UConn Health are the backbone of healthcare in the state of Connecticut,” Herbst said.
Herbst said one of the things she is most worried about is the amount of financial aid that would be available to students.
“We want to keep this place accessible and affordable to our students, and keep us competitive to our peers,” Herbst said.
Flexer said she is going to support UConn in every corner of the state, and that the university is going to win its fight against the budget cuts.
“My predecessors in the legislature believed in the state supporting quality, affordable, public higher education. And ten days ago, the majority of my colleagues said no, that is no longer a priority in the state of Connecticut. But UConn nation in these past ten days has said no and stood up right back,” Flexer said.
An itemized budget released by the Connecticut House Republicans shows that the proposed budget would require that UConn take away free tuition for university employees and their dependents, increase professor course loads and require the university and UConn Health Center to pay for fringe benefit expenses for salaries greater than $100,000.
Gabriella Debenedictis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.