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Study considering four stadium sites
President: Football can't affect academic funding
Four possible sites - three of them in Storrs - are under consideration for a football stadium, the Board of Trustees heard last week, at its first meeting of the academic year.
Lorraine Aronson, special assistant to the chancellor, said the sites include a location in downtown Hartford and three in Storrs: an upgrade of Memorial Stadium, the old tech park site, and a site at the old Mansfield Training School, at the junction of Routes 44 and 32. She said the choice is limited by access and size.
Trustee William Berkley urged that a state-owned site at the intersection of Routes 84 and 195 also be considered.
Aronson said a full analysis of each site will be presented to the board at its October 17 meeting. The University has until December 31 to decide whether to accept an invitation to join Division I-A football as a member of the Big East Conference. The NCAA requires a stadium with a minimum capacity of 30,000, nearly twice the current size of Memorial Stadium.
To build a stadium may require legislative action, in a special session that would have to be held during the first three weeks of November.
President Philip E. Austin has pledged that funds for the stadium must come from sources other than academic funds or UConn 2000.
The board approved an extra $800,000 for renovations to the ice rink, for a total of $3.8 million, in order to construct a facility that can be used year-round. Mark Emmert, chancellor and provost for university affairs said "The change was not made because of the change in the status of the hockey program (to Division I), though it may make possible the change. It was made to ensure the ice rink was completed in the most effective way for the student body."
The board also heard a presentation by William Massy, a higher education consultant who four years ago performed a review of the University known as an environmental scan in preparation for the strategic plan. Massy praised UConn's plan and its implementation. "UConn in my judgment - and I've seen a fair number of these now - has the most comprehensive long-range plan going today in higher education, and furthermore it is making a difference. It's informing and influencing decisions at many levels within the administration and academic units."
He cited the University's new decentralized budget model that gives deans control over their budgets. "The new system is a factor in spurring academic improvement," he said. Part of that process is for the officers in charge to have the necessary data for decisions; for this, a pilot data warehouse has been designed and implemented on schedule.
In another presentation to the board Bob Smith, vice provost for research and dean of the graduate school, spoke of the importance of research at the University. He said that of the 205 action items in the strategic plan, 55 relate to research and graduate education. "Whether by design or default you have defined a very important role for graduate education and research at UConn."
Smith said that in implemeting the strategic plan he will stress excellence in selected areas. He said he plans to help faculty be as competitive as possible; improve mentoring for graduate students; and find ways to enhance the competitive edge of graduate students, through programs that will improve their skills in college teaching, research management, and information technology. He said he also plans to integrate outreach with the University's extension mission; and ensure productive federal and state government interactions.
Board chair Roger A. Gelfenbien expressed the board's support for Smith's goals. "This place is about students and faculty and academics," he said. "We'll be there to support you."
John Murphy, general manager of WHUS, the campus radio station, described a proposal to replace the existing radio tower. He said the proposed new 327-foot radio tower would expand the station's broadcasting area and reach more people, including providing expanded service for blind people. He said the station will share the new tower with the police department for its statewide emergency system and use the extra capacity to help the Town of Mansfield. There is also the potential to rent space to commercial firms.
Trustee Richard Treibick, chair of the institutional advancement committee, reported that after a record fund-raising year last year, the UConn Foundation anticipates another record year. Fund-raising totals are about 50 percent ahead of last year. Treibick said the foundation is confident of achieving the year's goal of $25 million, a 25 percent increase over last year.
In other business, the board heard a proposal to increase fees by 3.46 percent. The increase will be subject to public discussion during October, prior to a decision by the board at its November meeting.