The question IS NOT whether UConn has a major impact on Connecticut’s economy.
An additional issue is whether voters fully understand how UConn spends its public funds. For example, UConn uses student and public funds to subsidize the school’s big-time athletic programs to the tune of about $19 million a year.
Yesterday, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy and UConn President Susan Herbst released a $50,000 study, produced by an out-of-state company that reported that that the University of Connecticut “had a $3.4 billion impact on the state’s economy in 2013.”
The University of Connecticut is a public institution of higher education that is dedicated to research, teaching and public service. UConn’s total budget is in excess of $1 billion a year, about 27% of which comes from state funds. It wasn’t that long ago that the state funded almost half of UConn’s budget. UConn is part of the nation’s network of land-grant universities. The concept of land-grant universities originated in the 1860s as a way to target public funds to promote “agricultural and technical educational institutions.”
Putting aside the obvious issue that this publicly-funded study was timed to showcase Malloy during the 2014 gubernatorial election, the bigger question is the governor’s double-standard when it comes to UConn and Connecticut’s other public colleges and universities.
At yesterday’s press conference, Malloy proclaimed,
“It’s important for the people of Connecticut to understand just how vital the University of Connecticut is to economic activity.”
Of course, this statement comes from the very same governor who pushed through the deepest budget cuts in state history to Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education.
Since becoming governor, Malloy has reduced state support for the University of Connecticut by well over $100 million. (The same pattern of budget cuts has taken place at the Connecticut State Universities and Community Colleges).
As a direct result of Malloy’s budget cuts to UConn and the other public colleges and universities, the schools have been forced to shift the costs onto the backs of Connecticut’s students and their parents.
Since Malloy took office, the cost of going to UConn has skyrocketed by 20% for students living on campus. As a result of Malloy’s budget cuts, students who commute to UConn or can’t afford to live on campus have seen their tuition and mandatory fees jump by an incredible 28%.
Compounding the problem is the lack of transparency and honesty coming from the Malloy administration and UConn’s Board of Trustees.
The public subsidy of UConn’s athletic programs is just such an example.
When the State of Connecticut built a new stadium in East Hartford and UConn moved to 1-A football, state officials claimed that the move would be lucrative and that within a few years UConn football would be paying for the entire cost of UConn’s athletic programs.
However, according to a 2013 financial report provided to the NCAA, the State of Connecticut and UConn students continue to provide a massive subsidy to UConn’s big-time athletic programs.
Last year, UConn’s athletics program cost in excess of $63.3 million. Incredibly, 29.7% of that money comes from UConn’s Operating Fund which is primarily made up of tax dollars, as well as, UConn student tuition and fees.
While “big time” athletics are certainly part of almost every major university, Connecticut taxpayers, students and parents deserve to know that they are subsiding UConn athletics to the tune of about $19 million a year.
And while having top tier coaches is a vital part of any successful major athletic program, most Connecticut taxpayers, students and parents probably don’t know that UConn’s top four coaches collected in excess of $7.1 million in compensation in 2013 and that nearly a third of that money came directly from students, parents and taxpayers.
The truth is that Connecticut should be proud of the University of Connecticut and the impact UConn has on the state.
And Governor Malloy certainly has the right to highlight the fact that he has put nearly $2 billion on the state’s credit card to build even more new buildings for the University.
But for Governor Malloy to hold a press conference about UConn, without explaining that he implemented historic cuts to UConn’s operating fund, is extremely inappropriate and misleading.
As a direct result of Malloy’s policies, UConn has become more expensive for Connecticut families.
That is certainly something he shouldn’t be proud about.
You can read more about the new study and Malloy’s press conference at:
CTNewsJunkie: New Report Touts UConn’s Impact On State Economy