Summer 2011

As we approach the end of FY 2011, we continue to celebrate the achievements of the thousands of students who recently graduated from the University System of Maryland's 11 universities. Many of these students are entering our region's workforce as health-care workers, teachers, computer scientists and engineers, journalists, government and nonprofit agency staff members, and in other roles. Others are continuing their studies at higher levels. All are living proof of the tremendous impact that the university system has on the state's economy and quality of life.

Our partners in Annapolis—Governor Martin O'Malley and the members of the General Assembly—truly understand that an investment in public higher education is an investment in the state's quality of life. Their rhetorical support was indeed matched by the final support they provided, with the General Assembly cutting the Governor's USM FY 2012 operating budget by a very modest amount. Also thanks to the state's support, the USM Board of Regents approved a modest tuition increase for in-state undergraduates, 3 percent at most of our universities.

Across the country, we're seeing double-digit state funding cuts to higher education, even as high as 40 percent. Clearly, Governor O'Malley and our legislators are very much bucking the national trend of disinvestment in public higher education. This long-term outlook will certainly put Maryland in a position of significant strength as the economy turns around.


In my fall 2010 letter to you, I outlined our new strategic plan:  Powering Maryland Forward—USM's 2020 Plan for More Degrees, A Stronger Innovation Economy, A Higher Quality of Life. The plan has—at its heart-two key goals. The first is advancing the state toward its established goal of having 55 percent of our young adult population holding an associate's or bachelor's degree. This 55 percent college completion rate goal both aligns with the national goal and meets the international standard for competitiveness. The second is enhancing Maryland's competitiveness in the innovation economy. This goal recognizes the imperative of strong R&D, technology transfer, and commercialization to build Maryland's innovation economy; it also underscores the importance of the right degree mix to meet workforce needs to sustain a competitive knowledge-based economy. 

Obviously, the final budget as approved and amended does not include funds to do all we had hoped to launch our strategic plan initiatives. The biggest loss is in our ability to meet the full student enrollment demand and move more aggressively toward the state goal of a 55 percent college completion rate. In addition, our ability to expand programs in critical workforce areas and fully implement STEM initiatives will be compromised, though our campuses are making notable progress in this area with available resources.

Despite the funding difficulties, our commitment to our goals remains strong. We have already integrated the strategic plan into our annual capital planning. We also are positioning the plan as the focus of our legislative agenda for next year.

I have had the opportunity to make presentations about the plan to legislative committees, business and community leaders, and other university system friends. I very much appreciate the positive feedback these presentations have received. I will continue to provide updates and ask for your support and input as we work to advance Powering Maryland Forward. You can access the strategic plan here:


Changes are coming to the USM Board of Regents July 1. We're saying goodbye to Chairman Cliff Kendall and to Student Regent Leslie Hall. Cliff has served two five-year terms, the maximum allowed. For many of those years, he served as chairman. His insight, expertise, and leadership have been of great value to me, the board, the system, and the entire state. Leslie, who will graduate from Bowie State University in December, provided exemplary service as the student regent. He served for one year, as do all of our student regents.

Joining the board July 1 will be Dave Kinkopf, a partner in the Baltimore law firm of Gallagher, Evelius and Jones and Student Regent Collin Wojciechowski, a rising junior at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).

Regents Jim Shea, chairman of the law firm Venable, LLP, and Barry Gossett, chairman and CEO of Acton Mobile Industries, have been reappointed to second terms.


Towson University (TU) President Bob Caret, who will be taking the helm of the University of Massachusetts System on July 1, stepped down as TU president in April. Marcia Welsh, TU's provost and vice president for academic affairs, is serving as interim president while the search process is carried out. In his seven years as president, Bob brought Towson University to new heights, gaining national recognition for, among many other things, closing the achievement gap between minority and white students, attracting an ever-stronger student population, and changing the face of the campus and its ability to address state needs. 

University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) President Thelma Thompson is retiring from her position on August 15 after a nine-year tenure. As president, Thelma focused relentlessly on academic excellence and under her guidance the university solidified its reputation as one of the country's best historically black institutions. Mortimer Neufville, a consultant to the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and a former vice president of academic affairs at UMES, has agreed to serve as interim president.

Search committees for both of these leadership positions are working to identify a strong pool of finalists for my and board consideration.


USM excellence in teaching, research, and service continues to attract outside funding. In fact, external research and development support for FY 2010 totaled $1.37 billion (latest figure available). The total for FY 2009 was $1.29 billion. Recent major grants include the following.

  • University of Maryland, Baltimore's (UMB's) Institute of Human Virology (IHV) has received $16.8 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, $2.2 million from the U.S. Army, and additional support from other sources. The total funding—$23.4 million—will support research for the next phase of the institute's HIV/AIDS preventative vaccine candidate's clinical trials.
  • The U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology has awarded a five-year, $15 million grant to the Maryland Nanocenter at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) to develop and implement a Postdoctoral Researcher and Visiting Fellow Measurement Science and Engineering Program.
  • Bowie State University has received nearly $2 million in support of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) disciplines this fiscal year. This funding includes grants from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

We continue to do well in attracting private support as well. To date, we have achieved more than 95 percent of the system's $1.7 billion federated campaign goal. Among recent private donations is a magnificent $30 million gift from the W.P. Carey Foundation to the University of Maryland School of Law. The gift is the largest in the school's history and one of the largest in the history of the University System of Maryland.


In the U.S. News & World Report graduate school rankings released this spring, the University of Baltimore's College of Public Affairs was recognized as one of the top 100 public administration and public policy programs in the nation. At UMCP the Clark School of Engineering ranked 22nd, the College of Education ranked 23rd, and the Smith School of Business ranked 45th.  At UMB, the School of Medicine ranked 38th; the School of Nursing ranked 11th, and the School of Law improved to 42nd, a jump of six rankings spots.

In addition, four USM institutions—UMCP, UMBC, Towson University, Salisbury University—rank among the nation's 100 best values in public higher education. In determining the rankings, Kiplinger's Personal Finance takes both quality and cost into account.

As always, I very much appreciate hearing from you. If you would like to offer feedback on this letter or any other USM news, please write me at: Also let me know if you'd like a printed copy of our strategic plan Powering Maryland Forward and/or the FY 2011 annual report I presented to the Board of Regents recently.

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