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UConn receives $2 billion dollar investment

By Katherine Tibedo
On June 5, 2013

  • The Daily Campus. Daily Campus

With financial backing from the state congress secured, UConn is preparing to move forward with a $2 billion dollar investment.

Next Generation Connecticut is a 10-year project aimed at expanding science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and research.

The new initiative will be funded through Connecticut legislation passed early Wednesday morning that granted UConn $2 billion over the next decade and will not have an effect on tuition costs. However, there are tuition increases coming in the next two years to support a separate hiring plan that is already underway.

Now that the funding is in place, the coming year will consist of planning, actual construction will begin in the next years. Residential halls and dining facilities must be built before enrollment can be increased, according to UConn Spokeswoman Stephanie Rietz.

In a statement released from the university UConn President Susan Herbst called the initiative "transformational," a sentiment echoed by CLAS Dean Jeremy Teitelbaum.

"I think it's going to have a huge transformative effect on the university," Teitelbaum said.

Tietalbaum said UConn has trouble accommodating the number of students who want to study STEM fields. Money from this initiative will go toward creating new facilities for students and faculty in those fields, including new classrooms, science labs and advanced equipment.

In addition, new dorms and dining facilities will be built to accommodate a 30 percent increase in student enrollment across the UConn campus, with 70 percent increase in the number of engineering students.

Fifty STEM doctorial fellowships and a STEM honors program will be created to entice STEM students to come to UConn. According to Rietz, the STEM honors program will differ from the current honors program and will have a residential component to it. It will also be the first honors program specifically for STEM students. The university will also hire 259 faculty members, 200 of which will be dedicated to STEM fields.

Teitelbaum said he believes the initiative will have a positive effect on students who not studying STEM fields as well as those who do.

"I think it will better the university overall," he said. "If anything, everyone will get a better science and math education."

UConn has consistently been ranked in the top 25 public universities in the US. The Next Generation CT initiative may help UConn move up in the rankings.

"The more we can do with researchers, teaching and class size is all going to help with rankings," Reitz said.

"In an era of lagging state support for public higher education throughout the nation, Connecticut is going in the opposite direction by making extraordinary investments in its research university," Herbst said in the statement released on UConn Today. "It is incredibly bold, far-sighted and virtually unheard of in the current climate and will make UConn one of the most research-productive universities in the world."

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