The University of Connecticut Board of Trustees met Wednesday morning to address budget concerns, new leadership positions, food security on all campuses and the president’s report on admissions.
As usual, the meeting began with public participation. The majority of comments in this particular meeting were unique in that they corresponded with students’ concerns regarding potential budget cuts and possible increases to tuition.
Ben Keilty, the Undergraduate Senate Government’s comptroller, led the conversation with a speech on behalf of students concerned about the future of the university.
“I, like my peers & constituents, rely on UConn,” Keilty began. “There’s been talk of tuition increases of up to $3,000 per year if the governor’s budget is passed as is. And while the university tells us that might not actually be the plan, we also don’t know of any other options. We’re concerned about what might happen next.”
Keilty then quoted University President Radenka Maric’s “students first” phrase, asking that the Board use it as a reference for their discussions and decisions.
“As President Maric always says, put the students first,” Keilty continued. “I encourage you all to follow her lead.”
Several other students with USG leadership positions shared their thoughts with the Board, bringing further attention to financial and budget-related concerns regarding students’ education at the university in the coming years.
USG Student Services Director Sydney Collins spoke at the meeting as well, asking if the UConn administration could confirm that efforts are being made to meet its goals in sustainability. She cited “carbon neutrality by 2030” and “zero carbon by 2040” as specific goals the university has implemented in the past.
“We call on the Board of Trustees to release a statement [that the University will work to achieve] carbon neutrality by 2030 and zero carbon by 2040,” Collins said.
After all public comments were made, the Board announced new leadership positions to the university.
The university recently appointed Jeffrey Geoghegan as the new chief financial officer. For the past several years, UConn’s Interim Vice President for Finance Lloyd Blanchard held the position as the interim CFO.
In regard to the Board itself, two new members were announced: Alexandra Daum for economic and community development and Jonathan Dach as the governor’s appointed chief of staff.
The Board then acknowledged the students’ speeches at the start of the meeting and thanked them for showing support for UConn and UConn Health.
Anne D’Alleva, the Provost for Academic Affairs, presented her report and clarified that all regional campuses have reached the point of having “food security” with efforts such as the newly established food pantry.
“At this point all of our regional campuses have food security,” D’Alleva said. “There’s clearly a need at Waterbury, they’re expanding space for the food pantry already.”
D’Alleva then added that a food pantry is expected to open at the Storrs campus after spring break, an initiative that Dining Services Executive Director Michael White and his team are working on.
Next, Maric presented statistics and numbers in the president’s report. Twenty-four thousand seventy-six undergraduate students are currently enrolled at the university, 71% of which are Connecticut residents, representing all 169 towns of the state.
Maric supported the claim that the university’s first-year student class is “highly competitive,” with a 342% increase in applications since 1996 and 66% increase since 2011. The incoming 2023 freshman class consisted of more than 47,000 applications, 173 of them graduating their high school as valedictorian or salutatorian.