UConn’s current student recreation facility is small, inadequate and does not meet the needs and demands of our student population. For a period of years – more than a decade – students have consistently expressed the desire for a modern recreation center that is on par with the facilities that many of UConn’s peer institutions and competitors offer. As we work to recruit and keep the very best students – who have no shortage of options – being able to offer quality student services that are on par with our competitors is essential. It is a “missing piece” on the Storrs campus.
No. If approved, the building will take a period of years to design and build and would likely not open until sometime in 2016. The fee would not be charged to students until the building opens its doors in 2016, meaning many current students would never pay this fee.
It is estimated that the fee would be in the range of $400 - $500 a year for full-time undergraduates and between $300 and $400 for full-time graduate students, including graduate assistants. Part-time students would pay less. This is modeled after the way the General University Fee (GUF) is charged. The existing facilities (including current recreational sports programming) are supported by the GUF.
It is very important to understand that if the university does move ahead with a new recreation center, it will be much more than a large room with exercise equipment in it – which is what the standard gym offers. A new facility could include:
A 50-meter, 8-lane pool and aquatics center
An extensive cardiovascular and strength training space
A Wellness Center; dedicated space for special populations programming, such as weight loss and exercise programs
Seven multipurpose group exercise areas, including space for cycling, yoga, dance, martial arts, spin cycling, etc.
An extensive simulated outdoor recreation area, including bouldering and climbing
Club sports practice and competition space
Extensive recreation space including basketball courts, Multi-purpose Activity Court, racquetball, squash, etc.
Leisure recreation activity areas, such as a game room, ping pong, table tennis, etc.
Synthetic turf field for use by Recreation Services – especially intramurals and club sports for practice and competition
A jogging track
Showers and locker rooms
It could also include lounges, juice bars, event and activity spaces.
Generally, there are three ways a new or renovated facility could be paid for on campus: UConn 2000/21st Century UConn funds, a state appropriation/capital investment or a student fee. All UConn 2000/21st Century UConn funding has already been spent or has been allocated for other purposes. There is little chance that leaders in state government would even consider devoting $100 million, or some part of it, to building a student recreation facility on campus. Particularly in light of the state’s fiscal problems and the fact that a new $1.5 billion-plus investment in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education at UConn has been proposed to add strength to the state’s workforce and fuel economic development. That leaves a student fee.
If the university is going to move forward with a major undertaking such as this, the goal is to do it right the first time rather than downsize and create a building that is too small and obsolete the day it opens, which would not only not solve the problem we face today – an inadequate facility – but it would also leave it to future generations to remedy our shortsightedness.
A bond will be necessary to fund the construction costs, and then be repaid in full over thirty years. To secure the loan, a consistent, reliable source of funding such as a fee is required. Private fundraising is not sufficiently predictable. Receipts derived from pledges of private donations, which are also typically paid over time, might conceivably reduce the amount borrowed or interest expense, depending on timing. Based on our ability to secure private funds for similar facilities such as the Student Union, we believe significant donor support is unlikely. Waiting until even a portion of $100 million is raised would likely guarantee that the project would not move forward for many years, if ever.
An increase in student fees affects all students, not just international students. The ability of international students to attend UConn would be affected only if the total cost of attendance, including fees, exceeded the usual stipends offered to entering graduate students. The university will monitor both the cost of attendance and stipend levels accordingly.
Graduate students stipends will increase by 4% in the fall of 2013. Also, when considering the level of graduate student stipends in future years, the level of fees that graduate students must pay will be taken into consideration.
Most of the costs associated with operating the university are shared by all students; there is not a “fee-for-use” model for facilities and services based on which students use them, as this would be completely unworkable. There are services, facilities and programs that some students will use while others will not, but in order for them to exist at all the cost of supporting them must be shared. For example, a resident of a town could look at their municipal budget and point out many services and facilities the town offers that they as residents do not use, yet their taxes still go to support those services just the same because there is no other practical way to fund them.
If Next Generation Connecticut is passed, the Storrs student population would grow by approximately 5,000 students by 2024. The university would have the option of reducing the fee charged as the population grows, or charging the same fee and paying the bond off earlier than expected and save on interest costs in the long-run. Additionally, operating and programming costs will increase as the population grows and these costs are funded by the fee as well.
There will be two town hall-style meetings held on April 16 and 17 from 4:00 – 6:00pm in the Konover Auditorium in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. All students are welcome to attend to share their views with VP for Administration and Chief Financial Officer Richard Gray, Provost Mun Choi, Master Planner & Chief University Architect Laura Cruickshank and Director of Recreation Services Cynthia Costanzo. Such public meetings are required by university bylaws before any vote to create or adjust student fees is taken.
Yes. At the beginning of each board meeting there is a period devoted to public comment. Anyone who wishes to address the board during its next meeting on April 24 needs to arrive a few minutes before the meeting begins at 11:00am in the Rome Ballroom and sign-up to speak. There is a two minute maximum per speaker to allow for as many speakers as possible during the time allotted. If someone is not able to attend these meetings, they can also share their views by writing to the board at: boardoftrustees.uconn.edu/contact-uconn or to:
UConn Board of Trustees
352 Mansfield Road, Unit 2048
Storrs, CT 06269-1048