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Tuition hike again held to inflation

A 3 percent tuition increase for academic year 1998-99 was approved by the Board of Trustees last week, at its first meeting with Roger Gelfenbien as chair.

Trustees said the increase will help the University balance the budget while keeping the increase at less than the rate of inflation.

The increase would raise in-state undergraduate tuition by $124 to $4,282 a year, and the out-of-state undergraduate rate by $380 to $13,056. The in-state graduate rate would be raised by $154 to $5,272 and the out-of-state graduate rate by $398 to $13,696.

Chancellor and Provost for University Affairs Mark Emmert told the board that a 3 percent increase in tuition will generate $2.1 million in revenue for the institution - money that is necessary to balance the budget.

He said nearly a quarter of student tuition is funneled back into student financial aid. In addition, more help will be available for those who are unable to pay: the General Assembly has appropriated an additional $1.2 million in need-based financial aid through the Connecticut Aid for Public College Students (CAPCS) program, and development efforts have significantly increased the number of scholarships available.

Student trustee Brian Collins, sitting on the board for the first time, proposed that tuition be held level in 1998-99.

Michael Bellafiore, also a student trustee, made a separate proposal for an increase of 1.5 percent and suggested a number of alternative ways to make-up the budget shortfall, including taking money from reserves.

Emmert said either proposal could harm the University's ability to pursue strategic initiatives.

Gary English, head of the drama department and one of two new faculty representatives on the academic and financial affairs committee, said "It is in students' interest to have basic services," adding that students do not necessarily benefit from reducing tuition. "You can't aspire to a 'getting-by' solution at a great university."

Trustee John Downey said the University has succeeded in meeting the budgetary goals established by the board. "We gave you a mission to balance the budget; you've met the goals," he said. "Part of that process incorporated a plan to have a tuition increase approved by the board. We should not change the process."

Trustee William Berkley, speaking by phone, strongly opposed any suggestion of drawing from the reserve fund. "Taking from the future is what got the University into the problem it was in," he said.

The board passed the 3 percent increase by a vote of 8 to 5. It also agreed to schedule a meeting to explore different options for tuition and a variety of approaches to developing the University's budget in the future.

The board also discussed and tabled a proposal for the Health Center to participate with three other hospitals in a center for reproductive health in Avon. Les Cutler, chancellor and provost for health affairs, explained that the center offers an opportunity for collaboration with area hospitals.

Cutler added that the Health Center's budget is driven by clinical and research revenues, with tuition representing only 2 percent of the budget. "If we don't participate, there will likely be a substantial negative impact on our budget." The board heard testimony from a number of individuals opposed to the University's participation in the center. They said the involvement of St. Francis Hospital in the cooperative would result in restrictions on reproductive services for women. Cutler said a full range of such services would continue to be available at the Health Center.

Fund raising up
In his report to the board, President Austin announced that the University's 1996-97 fund-raising activities netted $19.7 million, up from about $2 million just three years ago. He described the investment that has been made in development staff as a stunning success.

Austin also told the board that the University received an excellent reaccreditation report from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the regional accrediting body. The University will submit a five-year interim report to NEASC, which will, among other things, outline the University's plans for increasing the diversity of faculty and staff, an area Austin said is a high priority of the administration and the board and which was a concern raised during the reaccreditation process.

The board also discussed the planned establishment of a university cafe at Storrs, in the Student Union Building. Lorraine Aronson, special assistant to the chancellor, who chaired the committee that developed the proposal, said the cafe will be supported by a combination of capital funds, operating funds, and a $100,000 donation from the AAUP.

In other business, the board approved:

  • A new master's degree program in insurance law;
  • A tuition waiver for managerial and confidential exempt staff, similar to that established in the most recent collective bargaining agreement for members of UCPEA;
  • A 99-year lease of land located between Alumni House and the admissions building to the UCONN Foundation for $1 a year;
  • The sale of the Scofieldtown Road campus to the City of Stamford for $2 million;
  • A change of name from ConnTech Road to North Hillside Road;
  • And the appointment of John Sutherland, professor of history emeritus at Manchester Community Technical College, as interim state historian for the 1997-98 academic year during the sabbatic leave of UConn history professor Christopher Collier, the state historian. EOO