Details Emerge in $1.5B Plan to Create Connecticut's Next Generation Workforce

February 13, 2013

Revolutionizing STEM facilities, hiring new faculty, increasing undergraduate enrollment and even planning new dorms to house the anticipated influx of new students are part of Gov. Dan Malloy's proposed $1.5 billion expansion and investment in the University of Connecticut (UConn).

The plan is somewhat reminiscent of similar ambitious proposals from East Coast governors in Massachusetts and Maryland seeking to transform their states into specialized, high-tech hubs, such as Gov. Deval Patrick's 10-year, $1 billion life sciences investment package and Gov. Martin O'Malley's $1.1 billion bioscience initiative — both of which have sustained public and private support over the past five years (see the June 18, 2008 issue of the Digest).

Instead of focusing on one industry sector, Gov. Malloy's approach is built around the creation of a top-notch workforce to fill high-wage STEM jobs that he says will be generated through targeted investments in UConn. Like the aforementioned plans, Connecticut's initiative would be supported over 10 years with the state investing $137 million in operating costs and $1.5 billion in capital investments. UConn would contribute additional funding for operating and capital expenses. With this financial commitment, the goals are:

  • Increasing undergraduate enrollment by 6,580 (about 30 percent) with almost half of the increase in STEM fields, including a 70 percent increase in engineering students;
  • Hiring 259 new faculty, 200 of whom would be STEM instructors;
  • Creation of the nation's premier STEM honors program and state-of-the-art facilities with $1.5 billion in bonding for construction of teaching and research labs and additional housing and parking; and,
  • Relocating the Hartford campus to improve accessibility, strengthen collaboration with regional businesses and provide real-world internships to help students launch careers.

Gov. Malloy is selling the plan as “a good fit” with established research initiatives such as Bioscience Connecticut, Jackson Labs and Storrs Technology Park, citing a major draw for undergraduate and graduate students to apply for grants to conduct innovative STEM research. With the plan in place, the state would attract $270 million in research dollars and $527 million in business activity over the next 10 years, according to a press release.

The initiative was announced as part of Gov. Malloy's FY2014-15 budget proposal, which also includes $200 million to create a fund to invest in the state's bioscience sector (see the Jan 23, 2013 issue of the Digest). Connecticut lawmakers will have to balance new funding requests with a $2.5 billion deficit projected by the Office of Fiscal Analysis for the upcoming two-year state budget.

The governor's FY2014-15 budget is available at: http://www.ct.gov/opm/cwp/view.asp?a=2958&Q=518400&

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