JUNE 2010

Commencement season is a wonderful time to share the latest news about the University System of Maryland (USM). This academic year, USM institutions will award nearly 30,000 bachelor's, master's and doctoral/professional degrees, a record high. Many of these graduates are starting new jobs in the region, adding their considerable knowledge and skills to our workforce. 

USM's impact on the workforce and the region's economy is tremendous. We award nearly two-thirds of the degrees in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) disciplines granted in Maryland. Our three affiliated research parks foster innovation, create jobs, and pump millions of dollars into the state's economy. And our vibrant partnerships with public school systems and community colleges are providing even more opportunities for qualified students to attend and graduate from one of our 11 universities. After all, it's not only about getting students in; it's about helping them get out with degrees. I hope you will join me in applauding our newest alumni.


Earlier this year, the General Assembly took final action on our FY 2011 budget. Even though there were no cuts to our base budget, transfer of money from our fund balance to the state, funding reductions, and mandated furloughs total $273.1 million in reductions over the past few years. We are concerned by the continuing take down in our fund balance. But given the nearly $560 million in budget reductions and transfers enacted by the General Assembly on Governor Martin O'Malley's FY 2011 budget, we are grateful for the level of support we have received from our leaders in Annapolis.   

The budget also includes the first tuition increase for in-state, undergraduate students in five years, a modest 3 percent. With the tuition freeze, Maryland moved from having the sixth highest tuition in the nation down to 17th and a projected 21st next fall. That is a remarkable change in just five years and is in direct contrast to the dramatic tuition increases in virtually every other state.

On the capital side, the General Assembly approved all of the USM projects included in the Governor's capital budget, committing more than $235 million in FY 2011.  


We welcome three new regents to our governing board this year. In April, Louise Gonzales was sworn in as a member of the USM Board of Regents, succeeding David Nevins. This marks a return for Regent Gonzales, who served on the board 1997-2002. On July 1, Paul Vance, former superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools, and Leslie Hall, a junior at Bowie State University and former student member on the Prince George's County Board of Education, will join the board. They replace Dwight Pettit, a Baltimore attorney, and Sarah Elfreth, who graduated from Towson University last month.

We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Regents Nevins, Pettit, and Elfreth for their many contributions to helping us advance the university system.


In the most recent U.S. News & World Report graduate school rankings, the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) and the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) were well represented. UMCP's computer science, mathematics, and physics programs each ranked in the top 20; the College of Education and Clark School of Engineering both ranked in the top 25. At UMB, among public graduate schools, the School of Medicine is top 30 in primary care and top 20 in research and the School of Law is top 20. 

Our institutions are also leading in environmental sustainability. In the Princeton Review's second annual "Green Rating" of the 286 U.S. colleges and universities that have demonstrated an exemplary commitment to sustainability, five USM universities made the list: Frostburg State University; Salisbury University; Towson University; University of Maryland, Baltimore County; and University of Maryland, College Park.


I am pleased to share with you that the USM Board of Regents launched a campaign to match the $500,000 Academic Leadership Award I received from the Carnegie Corporation earlier this year. To date, the campaign has raised nearly $2.5 million, including the Carnegie award. These funds will be used to support a new initiative, "A Matter of Degrees: USM Leading the Way in College Completion." We created this initiative to help prepare more young people for the rigors of higher education early, increase the odds of student success once they enter college, and provide financial support and counseling to students in danger of running out of money just a few credits shy of graduating.

I also have donated the $20,000 award that accompanied my receipt of the 2010 TIAA-CREF Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence to this initiative. I am deeply honored professionally and personally to have received the Hesburgh and Carnegie awards and can think of no better way to use the grants than contributing them to "A Matter of Degrees." If you'd like to learn more about "A Matter of Degrees," please contact Marianne Horrigan, assistant vice chancellor for advancement, at: mhorrigan@usmd.edu or 301.445.2708. 


With the start of the new fiscal year on July 1, we will have completed the realignment of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute (UMBI) centers. Our Board of Regents in June 2009 approved this year-long restructuring to pave the way for more multidisciplinary and collaborative biotechnology research across the system and increase access to outside funding. The restructuring is also expected to yield more technology transfer, commercialization, and business start-ups, and thereby advance economic development statewide. Once this process concludes, UMBI will no longer exist as a separate entity.  


Nearly 600 middle-school students and parents/guardians got helpful tips on preparing for college at USM's spring Way2GoMaryland event at the Universities at Shady Grove, one of USM's two regional centers. Way2GoMaryland is an information campaign — now in its second year — designed to motivate more students to begin preparing for college early. ATK, a premier aerospace and defense company, is the campaign's lead sponsor.

Offering sound advice at the spring event were current students at USM institutions, representatives from our admissions and financial aid offices, and officials from the Maryland Higher Education Commission's financial aid office and from the College Savings Plans of Maryland. USM has held other Way2GoMaryland events in Baltimore City, Prince George's County, and on the Eastern Shore. To learn more about the campaign, visit: www.way2gomaryland.org.

If you'd like to send feedback on what you've read here or on other matters related to the University System of Maryland, please e-mail: chancellorletter@usmd.edu.

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University System of Maryland
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