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    Thursday, June 13, 2024

    UConn has study; now time to save money

    The University of Connecticut has received its $3.9-million report, the one suggesting ways to cut spending and increase revenues. It projects potential savings of between $39 million to $67 million and increased revenues of $14 million to $30 million over five years.

    The university undertook the study when confronted with the likely scenario that state support will at best be stable, and more likely will drop, in the coming years. It may also indicate, thankfully, that the UConn trustees realize that the institution cannot simply keep jacking up tuition and still serve its function as a state university affordable and available to middle-class students.

    Yet while we welcome the effort to try to save money and find new revenue sources, we still cannot understand why the UConn trustees had to pay an outside firm - McKinsey & Co. - nearly $4 million to come up with the proposals. As an elite university filled with experts in a variety of fields, including business, marketing and economics, one would think UConn would have the internal resources to produce such a plan far less expensively.

    But that is money already out the door. Better to focus on the recommendations, for to ignore those would certainly be an investment wasted.

    There does not appear to be any startling recommendations of the no-one-ever-thought-of-that variety.

    UConn has already begun work on some of the ideas, such as centralizing the management of vendor contracts, administrative reorganization, consolidation of technology services and reducing computer servers.

    The consultants see the potential for lowering purchasing costs for equipment and some staff trimming, though that would have to await attrition since state employees have protection from layoffs as a result of the recent concession deal. McKinsey & Co. also questions whether UConn really has to spend so much on sports - $6.4 million on team travel, for example.

    Revenue ideas include higher ticket prices for sporting events and student parking. The state university can generate more tuition revenue with broader class offerings during the summer and by offering and marketing more online courses.

    And the consultants conclude the UConn Foundation can do a better job fundraising.

    Given the state's generosity and the willingness to impose ever-increasing fees on students, it appeared for a time as if money was no object at UConn. That is certainly no longer the case. With the new leadership of President Susan Herbst comes the potential that ideas will move from recommendations to reality.

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