EXCLUSIVE: UConn President speaks out against new state budget

STORRS -- In a statement released early Saturday morning, UConn President Susan Herbst spoke out against the recent approval of the legislative state budget.

President Herbst called the state budget "appalling" and the budget would cut state funding from the University by more than $300 million over the next two years.

The UConn official then went on to list the various effects that the new budget would have on the program State program. She said that most of the Division 1 sport programs would be cut and the regional campuses would be closed.

President Herbst finished the letter hoping the legislative and governor will come to a far-sighted budget that protects investments in UConn and its students.

The statement went out to every UConn student, employee, and alum.

Read the full statement below.

To the University Community and all the members of UConn Nation:

Last night and early this morning, both houses of the General Assembly approved a state budget that is appalling to us at UConn. The approved budget would cut state funding for the university by more than $300 million over the next two years. That level of cut is unprecedented and would be devastating for UConn, higher education in Connecticut, and the state as a whole.

This would simply decimate the university.

Here is a partial list of what the budget approved by the General Assembly would mean for UConn and Connecticut:

  • The closure of regional campuses and multiple academic departments and potentially even schools and colleges;
  • The closure of UConn Health, or large parts of it;
  • Elimination of scores of majors and graduate programs;
  • Dramatically larger classes and waitlists that will make it challenging for many students to graduate in four years;
  • Major reductions to need- and merit-based financial aid for students across the board;
  • Devastating cuts to scientific and medical research programs;
  • Reduction of UConn police and fire services as well as the elimination of most student health and mental health services, and other student support programs;
  • Elimination of many Division 1 Athletics programs;
  • Elimination of international programs;
  • Dramatic reductions to fundraising efforts and philanthropic giving.

It is difficult to describe how destructive the approved budget would be to UConn and higher education in Connecticut. We thank the governor for his promised veto of this measure, and we thank all of those who believe in higher education for Connecticut and its residents.

Going forward, we are hopeful that the legislature and governor can agree on a far-sighted budget that protects investments in UConn, our students, and the state’s future.

Sincerely,

Susan Herbst

Below is a statement from CSCU President Ojakian regarding the budget passed by the CT General Assembly:

"The cuts to public higher education included in the budget resolution passed yesterday would have a profound impact on CSCU students. Our students are almost entirely from Connecticut and they overwhelmingly stay here after graduation. Our students are not numbers on a budget sheet. They are and will be Connecticut's nurses, teachers, educators, small business owners, corporate leaders, and manufacturers, and the rest of our future workforce. Many are working full time or part time and are already making tremendous sacrifices to attend our schools and get an education. Were it not for the state support for CSCU and programs like the Roberta Willis Scholarship, many of our students would not be able to attend college.

"Our system has continued to absorb cuts year after year and we fully understand that in order to balance the budget we will have to absorb more once again. But our schools are already operating with $66M less than they had in 2015. These cuts have had real and lasting damage to our ability to serve our students. If we continue on this path, any options we consider to sustain our system in the future will include significant increases to tuition and fees that our students don't deserve and cannot afford. It is important to remember that our students and the families that support them are also taxpayers.

"The budget passed by the General Assembly would place dramatic cuts on our system, and would phase out the Roberta Willis Scholarship and the access it provides to higher education for thousands of students across our system and this state. This will pass on higher costs for our students while simultaneously cutting programs and access to financial aid. To remain competitive our state must be making these critical investments in higher education.

"Our system has proactively been pursuing our own structural changes in order to remain sustainable into the future so we can continue providing our students with a high quality education. We're doing everything possible to be responsible stewards of both our students hard earned investment and CT's taxpayers. However we must make sure we don't place the financial burden on our students and that we protect the services they need most to succeed. If we don't, the existing and future workforce in our state will simply not be as the competitive as it needs to be."