Sen. Witkos Applauds Senate Passage of Bill to Increase Transparency at the UConn Foundation

April 21, 2016

Hartford – Senate Minority Leader Pro Tempore Kevin Witkos (R-Canton) applauds the Senate’s passage of a bill that will increase transparency at the UConn Foundation, a nonprofit entity separate from the university that acts as the school’s fundraising branch and manages the university endowment. The legislation, Senate Bill 333, was passed with bipartisan support in the state Senate late Wednesday evening.

“Transparency is extremely important in state government. When it comes to the UConn Foundation, a large and accomplished branch of our state’s flagship university, we have to better balance the need for transparency and openness while also ensuring that we don’t inhibit the university’s successful fundraising efforts. This bill strikes that balance,” said Sen. Witkos, who played a major role in crafting this legislation with input from transparency advocates and the University of Connecticut.

“This is a product that we can all be proud of. These changes will help answer questions of how the university raises and spends its money for our public university, including on scholarships, support for professional development, and robust growth of education potential. Implementing a three pronged approach through increased reporting, benchmarking and protection of financial independence, we can empower the University to continue doing the great work that they do while also promoting openness and information sharing with the public. Connecticut should take great pride in all that our state university has accomplished. They’ve been able to take $8 million in state funding and turn it into $80 million in private fundraising. We should not be doing anything to harm those fundraising efforts, but we should be more aware of how that money is attained, spent, and grown,” said Witkos.

Under current law, the UConn Foundation is completely exempt from the state’s Freedom of Information law.

The bill aims to enhance reporting and openness of the foundation’s records through the following changes:

  • Implementation of new reporting and benchmarking requirements.
  • Requiring the foundation to submit a detailed annual financial report to the General Assembly for public record. This report will include audited financial statements as well as information about the total and average size of fund disbursements.
  • Consolidation of reported information about the Foundation currently available on different websites, scattered throughout multiple sites online.

This legislation applies to the UConn Foundation only and under this legislation, donor names will remain protected if donors do not want their names disclosed.

The bill now awaits final approval in the House of Representatives.

“With the passage and support of this legislation our flagship university, the university ranked 19th in the country of public universities will have the strongest laws in the nation when it comes to foundation transparency and we would strike the right balance for the foundation to continue its work unimpeded,” said Witkos.