Community reacts to UConns plans to shut down Torrington campus

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TORRINGTON - Connecticut is in a financial crisis and many agencies are taking a hit with the state, causing a number of people to make tough decisions, including leaders at the University of Connecticut. UConn faces more than $31 million in proposed state cuts.

The university is considering closing the Torrington campus. UConn will present its closure plan to the university’s Board of Trustees on Wednesday. The board will vote on the proposal at a meeting in April. If approved, it will close after finals, this summer.

“The rationale for this difficult decision is based on the combination of significantly reduced financial resources and Torrington’s declining enrollment,” UConn Provost Mun Choi wrote in a letter to students and staff.

In the fall, Torrington had 153 undergraduate students. Right now, the campus has 136 undergraduate students for the spring, 88 of whom attend full-time.

In other regional campuses, those numbers multiply five to ten times. The Stamford campus is the regional campus with the most undergraduate students with 1,564. After Torrington, Avery Point has the lowest enrollment with 717.

Other reasons for closing include an inability to provide an experience equivalent to other UConn campuses, the cost of operating and maintaining the campus and it's proximity to the UConn Waterbury campus, according to a university press release.

“My daughter herself is going to Storrs in the fall and she wishes her major was at one of the branches, for financial reasons,” parent Christina Clark said. “Maybe if more majors were offered at some of the branches there would be more attendance.”

While the university said it made efforts to attract students, even offering more financial aid to needy students on regional campuses, numbers continued to drop.

It is anticipated by the university that a number of the Torrington campus current and future enrollees would attend the Waterbury campus, so that is where the bulk of Torrington’s operational expenses would be redirected.

If the campus closes, it will continue the use of the UConn Extension facility.

The building is a meeting point for the Litchfield 4H programs. Each one provides opportunities for kids.

“4H is actually the biggest youth organization in the country,” Clark said. “It’s a positive organization where they learn about things they're interested in. It is also a great social time. They learn to work together, and great life skills.”

While locals said it is sad the Torrington campus may go, Clark is happy it will leave this bit behind.

“This is really important to so many people and so many kids for their clubs, so that is great news,” she said.

If the decision to close the campus is approved by the board of trustees, the university plans to accommodate all the enrolled students at other regional campus locations. It also plans to hold meetings for students, faculty and staff leading up to the transition.