Malloy Wants To Invest $1.5 Billion In UConn Sciences, Technology
Expected To Announce Plan Thursday; Aimed At Improving State's Economy
By KATHLEEN MEGAN
January 30, 2013
Science, technology, engineering and math programs at the University of Connecticut could get a $1.5 billion boost over the next decade, with the intention of creating a pipeline of talent that will yield substantial returns for the state workforce and economy.
The proposed investment in UConn will be part of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's budget to be introduced next week, according to sources familiar with his plan. The governor is expected to outline the UConn proposal Thursday afternoon.
If approved by state lawmakers and the State Bond Commission, the money — targeted for the Storrs, Greater Hartford and Stamford campuses — would be used to hire faculty, improve facilities and increase overall enrollment by a third. Also, the money would pay for more than 1,400 full scholarships for top students in those fields, create housing and provide startup money for students' business ideas.
"[This is] designed to really tap into the talent of our young people so that they can fill the jobs that we are trying to create … We're creating a talent pipeline," said a source familiar with the plan. "This is really unprecedented in its scope. It's a commitment that reflects the governor's overall development goals. So it's money put into areas that we know are going to grow over the next 50 years."
Those associated with the plan expect a substantial return on the state's investment. They project that business activity resulting from UConn research will more than double from $218 million this year to $527 million by 2024. Additionally, they project that the research would create 4,050 jobs by 2024 and the improvements and the new housing will be responsible for 30,000 construction jobs.
"I think it is terrifically visionary and even more so in today's environment of fiscal constraint," said Howard Gobstein, executive vice president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities in Washington, D.C.
"If you look at any of the figures on job growth, any of the figures related to average salary, average income," those in science, technology, engineering and math "almost invariably are doing better than the average," Gobstein said.
The investment will also help to maintain and keep the best talent in the state, Gobstein said, adding that Ohio, Pennsylvania and California have invested in the same areas.
Jobs in science, technology and engineering have grown three times faster than in other professions in the past decade, according to a source familiar with Malloy's plan. Those jobs are also projected to grow by 17 percent by 2018, compared with a projected 10 percent growth for other professions.
A pipeline of new talent is needed in Connecticut, the source said, because 20 percent of existing science, technology and engineering employees are over 55 and likely to retire in a decade.
More specifics are expected Thursday, but sources said that Next Generation Connecticut, as the plan is called, would:
Increase faculty in science, technology and engineering by 258 at the three campuses, in addition to 290 new faculty the university is in the process of hiring.
Outdated classrooms, laboratories, research space and infrastructure on the Storrs campus would be renovated and new housing would be designed for the students.
The Stamford campus would expand its digital design program, creating a school of fine arts and digital design and media, while also expanding business programs in financial management, international business, global risk management, sports management and other areas. There would be some money for student housing.
In Hartford, the program would help cover the relocation of the Greater Hartford branch from West Hartford to downtown Hartford — a move that is expected to take place within a year — including the construction of laboratories. It also would fuel a collaboration with community colleges and be used to attract "high poverty, but high-potential students," a source said, and will be used to enhance internship opportunities for undergraduates and those in graduate professional programs.
The overall number of undergraduates at UConn — now at 17,000 — is expected to increase by a third by 2024, while the number of students on the Stamford campus — about 1,400 — is expected to double because of the investment.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at