Ctnewsjunkie file photo
Students rallied against a larger budget cut in September. (Ctnewsjunkie file photo)

HARTFORD, CT — It wasn’t as deep as the Republican budget would have gone, but the cuts to the University of Connecticut and the UConn Health Center are around $143 million over the next two years.

Following passage of the two-year, $41.34 billion state budget last week, University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst said that the university would address the reduction by implementing a “strategic” hiring freeze, reducing services, and halting some projects, including renovation of the Gant Science Complex.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has until Wednesday to sign or veto the proposal.

“Managing budget reductions is painful, but straightforward; there is no hidden financial resource we can tap and there is no non-specific ‘fat’ or other low-hanging fruit that can be eliminated to solve our problems,” Herbst said in a letter to the UConn community. “Nor can the university simply turn to philanthropy or external grants to shore up our operating budget. Those funds cannot legally be used for that purpose.”

While it will be painful, Herbst said the $143 million cut over two years, is much better than the $309 million cut the university faced under the Republican budget that passed with the help of eight Democratic legislators. UConn students, faculty, and alumni, rallied at the state Capitol on Sept. 22 in support of the university.

UConn Basketball Coach Geno Auriemma even said he would give up his $2.4 million salary to help end the budget stalemate that lasted for several months before the vote on the Republican budget that was eventually vetoed at the end of September by the governor.

“A two-year cut of $143 million is still a very steep reduction,” Herbst wrote. “It will clearly have a significant negative impact on the university, and will mean difficult decisions.”

However, there’s no specifics yet about what this will mean for the university staff and students.

Herbst wrote that the hiring freeze would still protect “research and meeting teaching needs.”

She also wrote that the university would need to reduce certain services that aren’t “essential to the academic mission.”

The only construction project mentioned in Herbst’s letter was the “Gant renovation and construction of the new Science Complex.”

The Gant Science Complex was expected to be renovated to accommodate growing student enrollment in STEM programs. The improvements to the 285,000 square foot building included classrooms, lecture halls, teaching and research laboratories, faculty offices and support spaces.

The $85 million project was approved by the UConn Board of Trustees in February.