As we walk around our beautifully manicured campus, it’s hard not to imagine just how far $300 million can go.
Though Governor Dan Malloy has vowed to veto the budget that will cut $300 million in funding from UConn when it arrives at his desk, it would be foolish to imagine that the new budget will be that much more generous to the UConn community.
The fact is, the state of Connecticut does not have any money, and this is nothing new. In 2014, Governor Malloy cut state funding to UConn by a whopping $3.7 million. Despite this hefty rollback of support for the university, UConn has continued advancing the pay of several of its favorite employees.
If you take a look at the Connecticut Government Payroll website, you’ll see that all the top paid government employees in the state are from UConn or UConn Health. While I understand that medical professionals deserve high salaries, I’m not totally convinced as to why the highest paid UConn Health professional- the fifth highest paid government employee in Connecticut- is a dermatologist. Nor am I satisfied with seeing that Kevin Ollie makes $1.5 million in “special payment” after his regular yearly salary of $1.3 million.
But it doesn’t stop there. Richard Orr, who “[provides] strategic legal advice and [coordinates] the delivery of legal services,” for UConn received a pay increase in spite of the budget cut of $55,000, which does not include his annual $25,000 bonus. He is one of three general counsel senior staffers who has been receiving steady pay increases since the detrimental 2014 budget cut. This is all without mentioning, of course, President Susan Herbst, whose salary has steady climbed despite economic hardship to $612,500. That is not including her bonuses, one of which she received in May 2016 for “retention” which cost the state of Connecticut a whopping $230,000.
It still does not stop there. According to the CT Mirror, 18 non unionized university employees received pay increases since the nearly $4 million budget cut of between 5-22% for “various reasons.”
It makes sense from the viewpoint of any logical business person to adequately compensate talented employees for their work, but in a real budget crisis, how does President Herbst have the nerve to email the students of UConn telling them that this impending budget cut is going to potentially close their major programs and D1 athletics? How can she tell us that a budget cut of this size would “decimate the university” and would force the closure of regional campuses? How can she, and the rest of her upper-crust general counsel, stand on the expensively kept grasses of this school and say that there will be no more need and merit-based financial aid for students across the board? It’s egotistical spending at it’s most opulent- and we should realize this before we rally against budget cuts.
Do not waste your time protesting a budget cut. It will come whether we want it, or not. We should, instead, be asking the state agency to pay its employees more reasonable salaries, so that the students of the University of Connecticut, the highest grossing agency in this state, can continue to attend school with financial aid to continue studying in whichever major program they choose.