In the wake of recent announcements of budget cuts to Connecticut’s Higher Education system, it seems that the state government may be forgetting about the important role our research university plays in the state. The University of Connecticut and other research universities are part of a grand bargain to have a substantial impact on society and the economy. Emerging theories in mathematics, medicine and music pave the way for future industries and opportunities for graduating students.
UConn has become one of the great public universities in the country. Deservedly so. But it is not above the law, including the state’s Freedom of Information Act. Unfortunately, UConn seems to think otherwise.
The staunch advocates for public higher education and stewards of the state’s future – UConn-AAUP- should have a strong role in influencing university decisions that impact the common and public good.
Unfortunately we have witnessed exclusionary praxis from the UConn administration in recent months – dismissing the role of UConn-AAUP and leaving them out of vital decision-making. If this pattern continues where educators don’t have a voice in student learning conditions, scholarly work, or university direction, then the quality of education at the University of Connecticut will suffer immensely.
The University of Connecticut administration attribute the need for another tuition increase to labor contracts with university faculty. This is not the case. We agree with the administration that declines in state appropriations are a primary cause of the UConn budget shortfall, but there is little evidence to support the claim that faculty salaries and benefits alone are driving up expenses.
I have the hard-earned privilege of being a professor at Southern Connecticut State University — a major regional educational institution whose research and teaching provide an immediate and enduring benefit to New Haven and the whole state. I am proud of my students, colleagues, and school; at the same time, I am disappointed with system politics and Connecticut’s willingness to construct a two-tiered system for its students in higher education: The University of Connecticut and everyone else.
I have never believed that the University of Connecticut’s interests in seizing control of the Alumni Association was about its assets. But if this is not the case, why has the university worked so hard in recent days to ask alumni to vote yes when it already has assumed responsibilities for alumni activities?
On May 19, the Connecticut legislature took two important strides in an attempt to achieve educational equity. On that day the Senate passed bill SB 398 and the House passed HB 6844. If these bills pass and are signed by Gov. Dannel Malloy, it would continue to pave the pathway toward educational equity of two disenfranchised groups in Connecticut—undocumented and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) students.
The University of Connecticut provides Connecticut’s knowledge infrastructure. As with our underfunded transportation infrastructure, failing to provide base adequacy funding now will not only have immediate harm but will produce cascading consequences. Deep cuts in the current biennial budget (and perhaps the next) will impair UConn for the next decade. To the taxpayers and General Assembly of Connecticut, I urge: Maintain UConn’s state funding.
How will it be possible to reform the state’s pension system when the people who are supposed to be representing the public share in all the benefits they confer on the unions? A first step would be to freeze benefits for all participants in the plans who are not covered by union contracts, and offer them 401k-type defined contribution plans for future service.
A lifelong UConn Husky basketball fan and taxpayer argues that the since the University of Connecticut’s major football aspirations don’t seem to be panning out, it might make better sense to back down, rejoin the Big East and direct the financial savings toward strengthening the academic programs.
In reaction to a recent incident of fraternity hate speech, University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst has called for “civility” in the community. But civility is no substitute for taking a hard look at fraternity culture and developing plans to address its failings.