This is an archived article. For the latest news, go to the Advance Homepage.
For more archives, go to the Advance Archive/Search Page

UConn grads make state's economy competitive, Austin tells Chamber

The University is going through a period of drastic change, President Philip E. Austin told the Willimantic Chamber of Commerce at a breakfast meeting at the Willimantic Country Club Tuesday.

He said his greatest source of optimism is the construction on campus that will provide new buildings under the UConn 2000 program. But new buildings, while they are necessary for a great university, do not create a great university, he said. A number of other actions, including a new budgeting approach, and taking advantage of the retirement program to reallocate resources, will result in a "transformed institution 10 years from now.

"A billion dollars are now on the table and they are a manifestation that this economy can be rejuvenated on the platform of this state's only public research university," he said.

Austin noted that Yale, although a great university, sends its graduates out of state. UConn graduates provide the talent that "renders Connecticut's economy competitive."

Touching on a number of topics, Austin said:

§ On the football stadium: Funds for the stadium must come from a source outside the University, he said. The 35,000-seat stadium that Division I-A football requires cannot be built at the expense of academic programs or UConn 2000.

§ On student recruitment: "We need to ratchet up our admissions standards so the very best students think of UConn first. But no student with the intellectual capacity must ever be denied access because of the ability to pay," he said. So before tighter standards are put in place, private funds must be secured for a "safety net of scholarships."

§ On fund raising: "Our program is mature far beyond the number of years it has been in place," he said. This year, more than $19 million has been raised and next year $30 million will be raised "and we hope to stabilize that." Once that happens, he said, the University will begin a $250 to $300 million capital campaign to focus on scholarships and professorships.

§ On administrative costs: A recent survey of 25 land grant universities shows that UConn's administrative costs are lower than 22 other land grant institutions. UConn ranked 23rd out of 25.

Karen Grava Williams