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  July 19, 2004

New Budget Includes Funds To Replace Retirees

The University's Board of Trustees on June 22 approved a budget for 2004-05 that is designed to maintain service levels by replacing many of the faculty and staff who participated in the state's Early Retirement Incentive Program (ERIP) last year.

"Thanks to careful planning and the contributions of faculty, staff, administrators, and students, we coped with a severely constrained operating budget last year without sacrificing the quality of the University's academic programs," said President Philip E. Austin. "Our goals for the 2005 fiscal year will help maintain our momentum, focus resources on institutional priorities, and provide a foundation for ongoing implementation of a strategic planning process."

The budget approved by the trustees for 2004-05 includes $750.1 million for the Storrs-based programs and $595 million at the Health Center.

The Storrs-based budget also includes additional revenue from an increase in the cost to students of $305 for the 2004-05 school year above the increases approved by the board last year. In-state undergraduate tuition will now be $5,772. With increases in board and other fees, in-state undergraduate students will pay a total of $14,894. Out-of-state students will pay $26,726.

"The most important thing we offer our students is quality. Students and parents are making choices in a very competitive environment, and they have made it clear to us that they have chosen UConn for its excellent programs," said Lorraine M. Aronson, vice president and chief financial officer. "While we are sensitive to the impact of increases in tuition, board, and fees, there are costs associated with providing high quality services, and we have an obligation to balance the budget."

Additional financial aid has also been budgeted to continue to ensure that access is maintained for all qualified students.

Even with the tuition increases, UConn - rated the best public university in New England by U.S. News & World Report - is very competitively priced. It is less expensive than the in-state cost of Rutgers, Penn State, and the Universities of Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Maryland, and about a third of the price of such private schools as Boston University, Boston College, Northeastern University, Providence College, and Syracuse University.

"In a dynamic college marketplace, UConn remains a tremendous value in comparison to our competitors," Aronson said. "But we must maintain quality or we will quickly lose our competitive edge. Affordability without quality is no value at all."

Under the ERIP program, the state retained about 50 percent of the dollar value of the salaries of the personnel who took the early retirement, Aronson said, but the University determined that to maintain the appropriate level and quality of services, it needed to spend 70 percent of that amount. To date, UConn has hired 59 new faculty, who will begin work in August, and has ongoing searches for another 32. A number of other replacements have already been hired to compensate for the 82 faculty, 98 professional staff, 104 maintenance staff, and 81 others who retired last year under the state's special incentive program. Although the size of the freshman class at Storrs has been capped at about 3,200, the coming year represents the first time that all classes -freshman through senior - will be that large. As a result, the total student body will be at an all-time high this fall.

Later this month, the trustees will begin considering a proposal to add a further 150 faculty over the next five years. The new faculty are intended to enhance undergraduate instruction and increase research productivity; they would also lower the faculty-stude nt ratio from 18-to-1 to 15-to-1. Since fall 1995, the University's undergraduate enrollment at Storrs and the regional campuses has grown from 14,454 to 20,259, but the number of teaching faculty has grown only from 1,068 to 1,082, Aronson said.

The enrollment growth has been accruing at a time when the portion of the UConn budget supported by state funding has been steadily declining. In 1991, the state supported 50 percent of the budget for the Storrs-based programs and nearly 20 percent of the Health Center's budget. This year, state support will provide 35 percent of the Storrs-based budget and 16 percent of the Health Center budget.

Budget resources at both Storrs and the Health Center are being directed again this year to support priority programs. For example, this year, additional funding is being directed to the Storrs-based programs to enhance academic quality, including nearly $1 million to continue the in-residence faculty program, which provides coverage for high-demand courses. Another $245,000 will support innovation in general education courses; and the Honors Programs will receive an additional $100,000, in an effort to ensure UConn's best faculty will be engaged in honors offerings.

Additionally, the School of Business will be allocated an extra $500,000 to implement its strategic plan and provide funds for the finance and management programs; the School of Law will receive $150,000 to create a new merit-based scholarship program; and the School of Pharmacy will receive $241,000 to support a new faculty position and a new department head position.

Other programs that will receive additional investments include the Human Rights Institute, the Division of Multicultural Affairs, and the Provost's Academic Plan Grant Competition for innovative interdisciplinary programs.

At the Health Center, there will be a $1.5 million investment in the Signature Programs: Genetics/Immunology and Cancer, Brain and Human Behavior, Bone Biology and Musculoskeletal Disease, and Connecticut Health; funding for information technology and campus planning; and funds to support the opening of the Farmington Surgery Center.