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Additional 2 percent of current state appropriation rescinded

by Karen A. Grava - April 6, 2009


Gov. M. Jodi Rell has rescinded another 2 percent from the University’s current state appropriation, bringing this year’s total rescission to 5 percent, the maximum the governor is permitted by law.

The newest cut amounts to about a $6 million reduction in state support for the University, and is in addition to the rescission the governor imposed earlier this year, which reduced state support by $12.1 million.

The 2 percent rescission is calculated based on the state appropriation for the year. Coming at the beginning of the fourth quarter of the fiscal year, it amounts to an 8 percent reduction in the last quarter allotment.

The additional rescission comes after the Board of Trustees set tuition for next fall. The board approved a 6 percent tuition increase rather than the 8.6 percent alternative.

“It will be challenging for the University to adjust to this reduction in state support because it comes so late in the fiscal and academic year, after much of the budget has already been encumbered,” says University President Michael Hogan.

“UConn is not like other executive branch entities, which are primarily administrative agencies,” Hogan says.

“Rather, UConn operates in a competitive environment where our constituencies, including students and faculty, have a choice whether or not to come to UConn. Our services must be provided seven days a week on a 24 hour-a-day basis.”

In addition, the University continues to experience record enrollments and now has 29,400 students, 12,000 of whom reside on campus.

“In the state’s current economic environment, even more Connecticut families are depending on a UConn education,” Hogan says.

While the governor is within her authority to effectuate the additional rescission, the reality on the University’s campuses is that the number of students being provided services will not diminish nor will students’ expectations diminish with respect to the range, quality, and duration of those services, he adds.

“UConn students and their families have already paid tuition and fees, in return for which they have a legitimate expectation that their educational and related services will continue throughout the academic year. These services include instruction, academic support, residential and dining, health care, security, and programming,” he says.

UConn also is responsible for managing what amounts to a moderate-sized municipality in Storrs. This entails operating police and fire departments, water and waste systems, and utilities. None of these responsibilities can be eliminated, or even reduced.

Many steps have already been taken in response to the earlier rescission, including $7 million in reductions and revenue enhancements that will be implemented in the next fiscal year, which begins in July.

Among the savings identified by the president’s Cost, Savings and Revenue Enhancement (CORE) Task Force are those from energy, facilities operations, purchasing, printing, staffing, and voluntary leave reductions.

The University already has cut hours at the Homer Babbidge Library and drastically reduced hours of operation at the Dodd Center and the Benton and Natural History Museums.

In response to the governor’s 2 percent rescission and recommendations for state support in the next fiscal year, the University is considering reducing the size of the incoming freshman class, curtailing student recreational opportunities, and reducing the number of dining halls open during weekends.

CORE is also preparing to present a report on additional savings in June.

In an e-mail to faculty and staff last week, the president said, “The cuts will be very challenging for us to absorb, but I am confident in our ability to generate the needed savings or revenue. We’ve achieved considerable positive results through these efforts and through the innovative and collaborative efforts of department heads, deans, faculty, and staff. I want you to know that I’m very grateful for your efforts and the ideas you’ve shared with me and the CORE Task Force.”

The University will also continue to limit out-of-state travel on state funds, will fill only essential positions, and will limit institutional spending.

“I think it’s important to recognize that we will likely need to take further steps to curtail activities and programs that are less central to our core missions of teaching and research,” Hogan said in the e-mail.

“Each time we must contemplate such actions, it is with sadness and a sense of loss. Every activity adds value to our campus and to our students’ experiences; and I know that many of our faculty and staff have worked hard to develop these programs over many years.”

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