Stamford stands to win

President Susan Herbst speaks at the launch of the Next Generation Connecticut initiative. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

Stamford is going to grow by leaps under this proposal, said one aid to Governor Dannel Malloy on Thursday in unveiling a $1.5 billion investiment into the University of Connecticut to support major expansions to UConn’s science, technology, engineering and math programs.

The effort will include expanding enrollment and faculty, and renovating and adding facilities in both Stamford and Greater Hartford campuses according to university officials.

“Connecticut used to lead the world when it came to innovation—we had more patents, more groundbreaking discoveries than anywhere else in the world. Somewhere along the way the world caught up. This is about to change,” said Malloy in a prepared statement. “By targeting state resources to our flagship university we ensure that our young people have the skills they need to fill the jobs we are so aggressively pursuing. Make no mistake, we are making Connecticut competitive again.”

The proposal calls for:

· $137 million in state funds to support a 30 percent increase in enrollment at UConn—adding 6580 students and 259 faculty to the UConn Storrs and UConn Stamford campuses.

· Expansion of the School of Engineering by increasing enrollment by 70 percent.

· A 47 percent expansion in the total number of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) graduates.

· Addition of 50 STEM doctoral fellowships and creation of the premier STEM honors program in the U.S.

· Relocating the Hartford campus to improve accessibility, strengthen collaboration with regional business, and addition of real-world internships to help students launch careers.

· $1.54 billion in bonding to construct new STEM facilities, build out teaching and research labs, upgrade information technology, and renovate and build additional housing and parking.

The new curriculum includes a new Digital Design and Media degree at Stamford’s School of Fine Arts and Digital Design and Media, and new degrees in the business program. UConn expects to enroll more than 1500 students and 35 faculty across both programs.

UConn President Susan Herbst said the initiative will create and support jobs needed to help the state be economically vibrant and successful.

No word on how the new initiative will be paid for in a state that is running a reported billion deficit or how much this will impact student tuition which is already set to rise over the next four years to cover the hiring of 275 new faculty members. The plan will need to be approved by the state legislature, and then bond commission.

Currently, UConn’s 525 STEM faculty each produce an average of $213,000 in new research funding per year. About $218 million in annual business activity in Connecticut is attributable to research at UConn.Over the next ten years, the curricular expansion and focus on STEM is expected to attract $270 million in research dollars and $527 million in business activity. The proposal will create 30,000 construction jobs and support 4050 permanent jobs, according to the governor’s office.

Linda Lambeck