The UConn Board of Trustees has approved a $1.18 billion budget for 2014-15 that adds dozens of new faculty positions to help reduce class sizes, increases financial aid, and incorporates projects that are critical to the new Next Generation Connecticut initiative.
The budget, which trustees adopted unanimously Wednesday, focuses on spending at the Storrs and regional campuses to promote student success; research and economic development; and raising the University’s profile among top public research universities.
The FY ’15 budget also represents the first year that includes expansions, construction projects, and other initiatives related to the Next Gen program.
That $1.5 billion, 10-year capital plan involves increasing UConn’s enrollment, faculty hiring, research and economic development initiatives with a particular focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) to bolster Connecticut’s job creation, and retention.
The FY ’15 operating budget supports high-quality academic programs for the anticipated enrollment of about 30,000 students, including almost 23,000 undergraduates.
It also includes funding to add 61 new faculty positions, including 35 in STEM. UConn has added almost 190 new faculty positions since July 2012 to reduce its student-to-faculty ratio. The lower ratio is crucial in helping students complete their degrees more quickly by having greater access to classes; reducing their costs; and helping them launch their careers sooner.
The expansion in faculty has made a noticeable difference in UConn’s faculty-to-student ratio, which was as high as 18.3 to 1 before the hiring program began in 2012-13. This year, it’s down to about 15.9 to 1.
“We’ve made strides in the past few years, and this is an indication of how committed we are to doing this,” said Lysa Teal, UConn’s associate vice president of finance and budget. “Even in an unstable budget environment, we are still moving forward to lower the faculty-to-student ratio.”
Affordability is another priority built into the budget. To help achieve that objective, the budget includes $91.9 million in University-funded financial aid, with the best packages provided to in-state, low-income students. That’s up from $42.6 million in FY ’08.
The aid comes in addition to tuition waivers, federal aid, privately funded scholarships, and other assistance available to qualified students. In fact, more than 86 percent of UConn students receive financial aid, which has helped UConn place in the Top 25 on Kiplinger’s Personal Finance’s list of best values among public colleges.
The new budget includes revenue and expenses for all campuses except UConn Health, whose $947 million FY ’15 spending plan was adopted Wednesday by trustees in a separate vote.
About $205 million for Next Gen capital projects is envisioned in the $315.5 million capital budget that trustees also approved Wednesday, including money to support creating the downtown Hartford campus, build a new engineering complex at Storrs, and remove an obsolete structure in the midst of the Avery Point campus.
The additional $110.5 million in the FY ’15 capital projects budget goes to support the Bioscience Connecticut initiative at UConn Health, including renovations at John Dempsey Hospital and construction of a new tower with 169 additional patient beds.
The budget workshop materials reviewed Wednesday, including highlights and detailed charts, can be found here.