Consultants offer UConn plan to cut spending, raise revenues

Consultants gave University of Connecticut officials the results of their $4 million study of the school’s operations Thursday: a plan to improve UConn’s finances through a combination of personnel reductions, spending efficiencies and revenue increases.

The final report by McKinsey & Company projects annual savings and revenue increases totaling $7.6 to $12.8 in the current fiscal year, ultimately reaching $53.3 to $96.6 a year.

About 30 percent of the recommendations come from personnel savings and reductions, but the report says they can be achieved through attrition. Most UConn employees are covered by last summer’s labor concession agreement that protects them from layoffs for four years.

Proposed revenue increases–some of which are already under consideration–include increasing parking fees, raising the price of tickets for football and basketball games, and increasing on-campus lodging for high-demand rooms. The report also suggests ramping up fundraising by the University of Connecticut Foundation to add as much as $13.4 million to the school’s resources.

The report also makes a number of suggestions for spending efficiencies. It suggests reexamining spending on the university’s coaching staff and team travel expenses, noting that they are the highest in the Big East.

UConn has already implement a few of the spending recommendations for the current fiscal year, totaling $5 million for reorganizing administrative functions and centralizing contracts with vendors.

When UConn decided last year to pay for this review, some legislators questioned why an independent review was needed to tell the officials the hard decisions that need to be made that they should already know.
But officials blew off those critiques Thursday, saying the consultants came up with several new suggestions.

“I don’t think we could have done this ourselves,” said UConn President Susan Herbst.

“This was a serious effort to take a good long look at how we provide non-academic services to the university… There was little that was not touched,” said Barry Feldman, the chief operating officer of UConn.

Trustees unanimously accepted the report.

“I am very pleased with the outcome,” said chairman Larry McHugh said. He said with the state cutting funding to UConn at record levels, this will help UConn “get out front” of further cuts down the road.

“We are implementing a lot of this,” he said.

Many of the recommendations, Herbst said, will be a struggle to implement.

“Not everyone is wild about change,” she said. “The campus is going to have a lot of difficult decisions ahead.”