EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy proposed on Thursday a $1.5 billion 10-year plan to boost science, technology and engineering at the University of Connecticut and bring in hundreds of millions in federal grants.
The program, which Malloy, UConn President Susan Herbst and top lawmakers announced at jet engine maker Pratt & Whitney, is intended to boost high-wage science, technology, engineering and math jobs and patents and licenses. It would increase student enrollment and faculty at UConn's Storrs and Stamford campuses and increase enrollment by 70 percent at the School of Engineering.
Officials say the effort is expected to attract $270 million in research grants.
"The president knows I'm driving her to raise more money," Malloy said. "It's part of the overall plan for the university."
State Sen. Gary LeBeau, vice chairman of the legislature's Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee, said he's concerned about how much would be borrowed and if it would reduce money available to borrow for other needs. The plan calls for $1.54 billion in bonding to build new labs and refurbish others, upgrade information technology and renovate and build housing and parking.
"Does it crowd out other future needs?" asked LeBeau, an East Hartford Democrat. "I don't believe it does, but I want to make sure."
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk, said the cost is excessive.
"What are we thinking? How are we going to pay for this?" he asked. "It is beyond comprehension."
"Herbst won a tuition increase from the Board of Trustees in 2011 to hire 290 faculty members. The newest proposal calls for hiring 259 faculty members, which will allow UConn "to do more and do it faster," she said.
"The more faculty, the better," Herbst said. "The more you have, the more you bring in federal grants."
The initiative also calls for $137 million in state money to support a 30 percent increase in enrollment at UConn, adding 6,580 students and the faculty at UConn's Storrs and Stamford campuses. It also would expand the School of Engineering with a 70 percent increase in enrollment.
And it would expand by 47 percent the number of science, technology, engineering and math graduates, add 50 doctoral fellowships in those fields and establish an honors program.