The University of Connecticut’s president Friday told the General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee that he is considering a number of cost-cutting initiatives to offset cuts to the state’s higher education budget.
UConn President Michael J. Hogan, speaking during a committee hearing at the Legislative Office Building, said he is considering the closure of two campus museums, reducing the number of dining facilities open to students on weekends, and decreasing the hours of operation for the library and the student recreation facility.
Hogan said he is not enthusiastic about implementing such cuts, but they can be done without serious damage to the university’s teaching and research goals.
“We want to find a middle ground,” Hogan said. “We don’t want to pass the burden of today’s crisis on to students.”
Hogan said he doesn’t just want to increase tuition or decrease enrollment at the university. He said the whole school needs to make sacrifices, including faculty, staff, students, and their families.
“We need to work harder with fewer resources,” Hogan said.
The Connecticut Museum of Natural History and the William Benton Art Museum could be shut down, according to Hogan, who added that although he doesn’t want to see the museums closed, they are not central to the university’s academic mission. They don’t add to the school’s teaching or research, Hogan said.
The university also could face a decrease in its financial aid available to students. UConn uses 17 percent of its “Set Aside Fund” to help out students with their finances. That could be cut back to 15 percent.
Hogan also has proposed several budget reduction options to UConn’s board of trustees, who will choose which alternative they think is best.
“I laid out all the options,” Hogan said. “There’s everything from a zero percent tuition increase, to 6 percent, 8 percent and 13 percent.” Each tuition option comes with a list of additional changes to the university’s budget, and Hogan said the trustees will decide which plan is most beneficial.
Hogan said the school needs to balance all of the “unhappy” options in order to continue to excel. He said he is asking everyone to “step up and make sacrifices.”
For the university to cover its budget shortfall directly through a tuition increase, UConn would have to raise tuition 13.5 percent, an option Hogan said he does not want to implement.
“No one should bear the whole burden,” he said, adding that families shouldn’t go under because of high tuition bills, and neither should there be an abundance of layoffs.
Further, on Tuesday Hogan told the trustees during a meeting in Storrs that he had established the Presidential Challenge Fund, which will raise money for student scholarships. For every dollar donated to the school as an endowed gift, UConn’s existing scholarship funds will match it. For non-endowed gifts, 50 cents will match every dollar. The program’s goal is to raise $100 million in scholarship funds.