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Trustees approve bonding for UConn 2000 (Released: 11/10/95)

by Thomas Becher, Office of University Communications.

STORRS, Conn. -- UConn 2000 took a significant step forward when the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees today (Nov. 10) approved a legal document authorizing the bonding and the first allocation of the 10-year project to rebuild, renew and enhance the University's campuses.

Trustees also approved a list of projects to be completed under the four-year, $382 million first phase and the six-year, $580 million second phase. The $962 million will come from bonding guaranteed by the state. The rest of the $1.25 billion program signed into law in June will be raised through matching grants and fund raising.

University administrators, trustees and the state treasurer's office have been preparing Wall Street bond rating agencies for the issuance of UConn 2000 bonds, which is expected in January pending approval from the State Bond Commission Dec. 15.

The legal document trustees approved today, called the master indenture, is required before any bonds can be issued. It is a contract between the University and the banking and trust company providing services for bondholders. It authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds and assures that the state will pay principal.

Earlier this month, trustees Chair Lewis B. Rome and an assistant state treasurer met in New York City with representatives of three financial rating services -- Fitch Investors Service, Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's -- that will set ratings for UConn 2000 bonds. They said UConn 2000 will help the University be a partner in the state's economic revival by attracting and retaining high-achieving students, improving continuing education for adults, and better competing for research grants.

Several changes have been made to the original UConn 2000 lists, which include 63 projects. Academic and student facilities received priority over earlier plans to renovate administrative buildings. Renovations of existing buildings also were given priority over new construction.

Although some projects backed by state bonding have been eliminated, no project has been deleted from the UConn 2000 legislation. These items, including a visitor's center, could be funded by cost savings or other sources, University officials said.

The first bonding allocation will help pay for part of the Stamford campus relocation to downtown, a new chemistry building and equipment and deferred maintenance.

It also includes $150,000 -- reduced by trustees today from $500,000 - - for a feasibility study on the possible relocation of the West Hartford campus to downtown Hartford. A final decision on the West Hartford campus move is contingent upon the feasibility study and Board of Trustees action.

Students who jammed the meeting room complained that they had not been apprised of changes. "I'm frugal with $20. I think the University should be frugal with $1 billion," said Brian Collins, president of the Undergraduate Student Government. In support, student-elected trustees Barnaby Horton and Kingsley Stewart voted against the project list.

But trustees emphasized that students will be an important part of the process as the first bonds are issued.

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