Good morning. I am Philip Austin, President of the University of Connecticut.
I am proud to be here to represent UConn— high quality, affordable, successful—at
a time when education and research mean so much to our state’s future.
In designating job growth as a key goal for her administration, Governor Rell
has also defined education—beginning in early childhood—as the foundation
of her economic development vision. The state of Connecticut and its municipalities
together invest an average of more than $130,000 in a student in the course of
that child’s education, preschool through grade 12. To allow that investment
to leave the state upon high school graduation undermines sound economic strategy;
simply stated, for every Connecticut student who stays here for college, the state
builds on its prior investment and grows its potential workforce.
The University of Connecticut contributes mightily to our state’s economic
growth. The numbers tell part of the story: the Connecticut Center for Economic
Analysis documents that annually UConn generates nearly 38,000 jobs outside the
University (in addition to the 10,000 people we employ), leverages $800 million
in private and federal investment, and adds $3.1 billion to Connecticut’s
gross state product. UConn also contributes to the state’s well-being by conducting
research that enhances Connecticut’s scientific and technological infrastructure,
and by improving health care, education and the environment—not to mention
cultural and athletic offerings that engage the hearts and minds of citizens statewide.
This is a success story for which you are responsible. Since the enactment of
UCONN 2000, UConn has seen record student enrollment and record academic profiles.
Since 1995, freshman enrollment at the main campus is up 61%, freshman minority
enrollment is up 77%, and SAT scores are up 64 points. Valedictorian/salutatorian
enrollment was 40 in 1995; this year’s entering class included 91 at Storrs.
35% of this year’s freshman class ranked in the top 10% of their high school
class. Today, freshman retention is at 90%, and freshman minority retention at
89%. The 6-year graduation rate for all students, stands at 71% (we are 21 st among
public research universities in the most recent ranking), and 67% for minority
students (12 th in the most recent ranking).
Applications to the main campus have gone from 9,874 in 1995 to 18,467 in 2004,
an increase of 87%. Applications are a measure of the attractiveness of UConn in
terms of quality and affordability. This is the competitive marketplace at work.
You will see more information in a moment about how UConn’s charges compare
to those of our top competitors, those schools to which the bulk of our applicants
also apply. Suffice it to say that for FY 2005 the in-state charge (tuition, fees,
room and board) is $14,894, approximately 50% to 60% of what a Connecticut student
is charged at the public universities on the list, and approximately 37% to 45%
of the charge at the private schools.
Has our price gone up over time? Yes, but so has our financial assistance to
needy students. We estimate that total financial aid expenditures will
reach $208 million in FY ’05. The Department of Higher Education requires us to set
aside 15% of our gross tuition revenue for need-based aid, but UConn in fact devotes
nearly 18%. In total, 37% of our gross tuition revenue is spent on financial aid.
We are spending an additional $5.4 million in aid for FY ’05 over FY ’04.
Approximately 75% of UConn students (undergraduate and graduate) receive
some form of financial support. We remain absolutely committed to ensuring that
no high achieving student is denied a UConn education for financial reasons. Finally,
our price is competitive and our financial aid is substantial, so it should be
no surprise that our students graduate with less debt than their peers. A Connecticut
student graduates from UConn with $2,000 less in debt than the New England public
In fact, for the larger context, I bring to your attention to a national study
conducted by Dr. Thomas G. Mortenson, Senior Scholar at the Pell Institute for
the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education. Dr. Mortenson ranked the 50 state
flagship universities according an “equity index” which is used as
an indicator of institutional commitment to serving low income students. We are
proud to report that UConn ranked 5 th on the list of 50, and showed the greatest
improvement of schools on Dr. Mortenson’s index over the last decade.
We present to you today, as we do every year, a great deal of empirical evidence
demonstrating UConn’s affordability. In addition, we have surveys of students
who were accepted but chose not to attend UConn, as well as students who leave
us prior to graduation. The survey data make clear that cost is not a driving factor
in their decisions. We have a need-blind admissions process. If any student is
being denied a place at UConn now, it is because of academic competition, not price.
Our price is very competitive, but price without quality is no value at all.
The deeper truth of this success story is that our students come to us because
of the value of a UConn education. It is quality that keeps them with us. And,
much as we enjoy having them with us, the extraordinary demand for a UConn acceptance
letter is moving us to focus as never before on seeing to it that they graduate
in four years.
We have recently embarked on an effort called “Finish in Four.” This
initiative will combine increased academic counseling, course and scheduling adjustments
and other support systems to help ensure that our students graduate in four years
as a matter of course. While our students on average graduate in 4.4 years compared
to the national average of 4.7, and our 6 year graduation rate is high among the
nation’s public universities, the goal for almost all of our students should
be completing a degree in four years. Ensuring that students can graduate in four
years will make better use of state operating and capital resources, enable more
students to take advantage of a UConn education—and, not insignificantly,
save parents and students the costs associated with the need for an extra semester
or more. This should make UConn’s already competitive price into an even bigger
bargain for Connecticut parents.
The key to the “Finish in Four” initiative—indeed, the key to
everything we do—is our faculty. While student enrollment has skyrocketed,
over the past decade, our faculty size has increased only 4.5%. Our ability to continue
to enrich the educational experience of our undergraduates and, equally important,
strengthen our research and scholarly activity is dependent upon our having the
financial wherewithal to expand our faculty ranks. Our goals are clear: enhance
the quality of the student experience, further the state’s economic growth
through research and workforce development, solidify the University’s growing
national reputation, and maximize the investment of parents and all taxpayers by
ensuring that students can graduate in four years. We are committed to access and
we are committed to quality. Both require resources.
Another area in which we have made great strides is in private fundraising.
Once again, our success is directly attributable to the encouragement and incentive
you have been providing. The State Matching Grant provides one state dollar for
every two dollars donated to our endowment to support student scholarships, professorships
and program enhancements. Having raised only modest sums prior to the grant’s
inception, today we operate a maturing development program that is establishing
an impressive record of achievement. Since 1995, our endowment has quintupled,
and just last year we raised $75 million with an alumni giving participation rate
of 24%, one of the highest percentages among public universities in the nation.
Our first major capital campaign ended this past summer having secured gifts and
commitments totaling $471 million, greatly surpassing our $300 million goal. Planning
for our next campaign has already begun, and the State Matching Grant has, and
hopefully will continue, to provide us with a critical advantage in the competition
for private philanthropy. This program has been achieving the goals articulated
when you enacted it, and we thank you for honoring your commitment to our donors
and to those of the other public colleges and universities.
The Health Center remains an area of great pride for the University. In an era
when health care is experiencing both unlimited expectations and unprecedented
financial stress, the Health Center has amassed a record of accomplishment in education,
research and clinical care while achieving a remarkable financial turnaround. In
a few minutes, Dr. Peter Deckers, Executive Vice President for Health Affairs,
UConn Health Center, Dean, UConn School of Medicine, will highlight these accomplishments
and the Health Center’s ongoing challenges.
Let me first ask Lorraine Aronson, the University’s Chief Financial Officer,
to discuss information contained in our materials concerning the University’s
projected current services shortfall. After both presentations conclude, we will
be happy to answer questions.