UConn officials recommend closing Torrington campus at the end of the semester

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TORRINGTON —  The mayor of Torrington says she doesn’t believe UConn can close its satellite campus in the city without going to court.

Mayor Elinor Carbone told the school’s Board of Trustees on Wednesday that because the campus was a gift, the school has legal obligations to the trust of Julia Brooker Thompson. Carbone is seeking a legal opinion from Attorney General George Jepsen.

UConn attorney Richard Orr says there are no legal impediments to closing the campus, but acknowledges the school would lose ownership of the property if it’s not used for educational purposes.

UConn’s smallest satellite campus has only 88 full-time students and just 136 total undergraduates this spring, which is a drop of more than 13 percent in the last five years. Also, the Waterbury campus is just 30 minutes away.The board plans to vote on the closure next month as a way to cut costs amid plans by the state to cut UConn’s budget by more than $31 million.

According to the school, the insufficient enrollment prevents it from offering the range and quality of academic programs the University provides on its other campuses. The University said in this time of scarce financial resources, it’s not prudent to operate and maintain the campus.

If the committee agrees with the recommendation to close the Torrington location, the full board will vote on it in April. Then, if approved, the campus will close after final exams in May.

If approved, the University plans to accommodate all enrolled students at other regional campus locations, including Storrs.

It also plans to hold meetings for students, faculty and staff leading up to the transition.

The university also recommended that the school replace the Co-op with either of two finalists, Follett and Barnes and Noble. Officials said both companies have aggressive strategies to provide lower-cost alternatives to students as well as price-matching programs. They said language will also be included in the contracts restricting the ability of the chosen company to increase the cost of academic materials.