Growth, Quality Emphasized
Budget Initiatives Okayed
The Board of Trustees last week gave final approval to an operating budget for the 2000-01 academic year, and agreed to a budget plan for the 2001-2003 biennium that officials say will allow the University to continue its transformation into one of the top public universities in the nation.
The budgets - for 2000-2001 and the 2001-03 biennial budget plan, which will be considered by the General Assembly during the legislative session that begins next February - would provide the University with a stable financial base and provide the funding necessary to provide quality programs to a growing number of students.
The budgets also significantly increase the financial aid pool to allow access for qualified students, provide additional funding to enhance student diversity, and include funding requests for strategic initiatives that will boost the University's research efforts.
"Two years ago I presented to the board a set of specific objectives in the context of our goals and the board endorsed the basic agenda. Those objectives have guided much of our work this year and I am pleased to report we are moving strongly in the right direction," said President Philip E. Austin during the board meeting.
"Student applications have so increased in number, academic strength and diversity," he said, "that our key enrollment challenge is ensuring that we appropriately accommodate the highly qualified students who want to come to UConn."
Austin and Lorraine M. Aronson, vice president for financial planning and management, said the budget is designed to meet that challenge and plan for UConn's future.
"This budget reflects the tremendous growth we've seen at UConn during the past three years,"Aronson told the trustees. "To maintain and build on that growth, we must have resources."
Aronson said funding would be provided through a variety of sources, with the state legislature being asked to shoulder the largest share, about 43 percent of each year's budget. She said increased revenue is expected in the tuition and fee accounts - the University's second largest pool of revenue - through enrollment growth and tuition increases of 3 percent in 2000-01 and a proposed 3.9 percent in each of the two following years.
Smaller revenue increases are expected from auxiliary enterprises, including charges for housing and dining services, athletic ticket sales, and income from rental properties; earnings from technology transfer; and grants and contracts.
Aronson told the board that existing resources would also be reallocated to help fund strategic priorities in 2000-01.
"The University has repositioned itself in many ways - in its population, its programming, and its popularity," Aronson said. "Our market position has changed; we are attracting a more talented and diverse student population than ever before. The vast improvement in physical infrastructure has made us increasingly attractive and more students and their families now see UConn as an exceptional educational value."
With student growth come costs, however, including the need to add course sections to accommodate the larger demand. Budget increases to address that demand are included in each of the next three years, including $945,000 for the upcoming 2000-01 academic year.
State funding in 2000-01 has been set at $180.3 million, plus $57.9 million for employee fringe benefits. Overall, the operating budget is $550.5 million, an amount that includes tuition, grants and contracts, auxiliary enterprises, sales and services and private gifts, in addition to state support.
The 2000-01 budget includes increases for the regional campuses, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (an additional $1.5 million), and the schools of engineering ($550,000) education ($225,000), fine arts ($335,000), law ($175,000), and family studies ($50,000).
In the 2001-03 biennial, similar enhancements are being sought to help continue UConn's efforts in strategic areas including, Aronson said, $1.5 million to continue improving the undergraduate experience and to support retention efforts. Maintaining the University's active partnership with the state also is a priority of the biennial budget, Aronson said. To that end, $4.5 million is targeted for the schools of business, engineering, and education, to prepare students for the state's future workforce, particularly in high demand fields such as information technology, engineering, and teaching.
Another $2 million is being sought to fund public health-related programs in the School of Family Studies and for a Center for Information Law and Policy at the School of Law in Hartford.
Additional support for each of the regional campuses also is being requested in the biennial budget.
Overall, the University will ask state legislators to support biennial funding requests of $196.1 million in 2001-02, and $200.1 million in 2002-03, which will fund current services and more than $15 million in new initiatives. The amount of state support will also increase once contracts are negotiated with the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association (UCPEA). Contract negotiations between the University and the unions are expected to take place this fall and winter.
Strategic initiatives in the biennial budget include: