Hugh McQuaid photo
At a ceremonial bill signing Monday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said a plan to spend $1.5 billion on the University of Connecticut over the next decade will pay dividends for the state in the future.

“We can be the best. We don’t have to take a backseat to anyone and we certainly should never, ever, ever take a third-row seat to anyone ever again,” Malloy said during the event on the university’s Storrs campus.

The 10-year bonding plan branded as “Next Generation Connecticut” is designed to bolster the school’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics programs. It includes money to hire 259 new faculty members and enroll more than 6,500 new undergraduate students.

The legislature approved the program in June and the governor officially signed off on the bill soon after. At Monday’s ceremonial event, Malloy said the state investment is designed to help the university prepare students to meet the needs of the private sector.

“This has not been a partisan issue, this has not been a regional issue. It’s an understanding of what the possibility of Connecticut is when we put our shoulder to the wheel,” he said.

The state Bond Commission is expected to tackle the first round of bonding for the project in December.