As the 2014 session of the Maryland General Assembly moves forward, I am pleased to update you on Governor Martin O’Malley’s proposed state funding for the University System of Maryland’s (USM’s) operating budget. In addition, Senate President Mike Miller, House Speaker Mike Busch, and their leadership teams have proposed a wide-ranging package of legislation to improve the state of Maryland’s competitiveness, much of which would directly impact USM institutions.
These budget and competitiveness proposals are more evidence of the strong and productive partnership between Governor O’Malley, our legislature, and the USM. Thanks to this partnership, Maryland is viewed as a state that invests in higher education. Thanks to this partnership, we are keeping higher education affordable, meeting growing workforce needs in critical fields, leading in enhancing student success through transformation of course delivery, and strengthening the state’s economy.
Below are some details about the proposals and other news of the USM’s impact statewide and beyond.
A BUDGET FOCUSED ON AFFORDABILTY
Presidents of USM institutions and I are testifying in support of Governor O’Malley’s budget in both the Maryland State Senate and House of Delegates. The governor has proposed $1.25 billion in state funds to support USM’s operating budget for FY 2015. This represents an increase of $92 million, or about 8 percent, over the current fiscal year.
Included in the budget is a 2 percent “tuition buy down,” which would keep our tuition increase for in-state undergraduates to a modest 3 percent and help preserve Maryland’s national leadership in college affordability. As I have noted many times, by making access and affordability twin priorities, the State of Maryland improved from having the seventh highest tuition in the nation down to 27th.
Given the increase in USM’s mandatory costs—including salary increases, fringe benefit increases, and facility maintenance—the governor’s proposal enables the USM to remain “level,” with no additional funds for targeted enhancements. At the same time, we are committed to advancing the priorities we have established with leaders in Annapolis that will propel the state forward economically and socially.
LEVERAGING UNIVERSITIES TO BOLSTER COMPETITIVENESS
The USM’s competitiveness efforts could receive a significant boost thanks to proposed initiatives announced by Senate President Miller and House Speaker Busch to promote growth in Maryland’s innovation economy and support the state’s research universities. Four elements of the legislative proposal are of particular interest:
• a fund to match university funds to recruit top academic talent to the state through endowed chairs;
• tax incentives for start-ups located near universities;
• seed funds specifically for cybersecurity start-ups;
• a blue ribbon commission to study Maryland’s competitiveness and to provide recommendations aimed at making the state a leader in the innovation economy.
I'm pleased to note that USM Regent and former Lockheed Martin CEO Norm Augustine will chair this commission if the legislative proposal is ultimately approved.
I ask for you to voice your support in Annapolis for both Governor O’Malley’s budget and the legislative leaders’ competiveness package. I also invite you to keep up-to-date on USM legislative testimony presented throughout the session HERE.
USM’S ECONOMIC IMPACT IS ON THE RISE
The USM continues to have a profound economic impact on the state. A little more than three years ago, with the approval of a new strategic plan, the USM committed to assisting with the creation of 325 new companies by 2020. We started to track new company formation in July 2011 and now have two fiscal years of data. USM institutions contributed significantly to the creation of 51 start-ups in FY 2012 and 67 new companies in FY 2013. We are on track to achieve our goal of helping to create 325 companies.
We have experienced other success in our competitiveness efforts as well:
• MedImmune—a biotechnology development company located in Gaithersburg—last fall announced a five-year, $6 million strategic collaboration with the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB); the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP); and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).
• Also last fall, Gliknik—a biopharmaceuticals company and UMB start-up—announced a worldwide licensing agreement with Pfizer with an upfront payment to Gliknik of $25 million.
• USM institutions and their start-ups within the past year won 23 Maryland Innovation Initiative grant awards, totaling more than $2.2 million.
• Growth in companies that licensed USM intellectual property in FY 2013 increased 133 percent over FY 2012.
• UM Ventures—a unified licensing, patenting, and marketing effort that is part of the UMCP/UMB collaboration The University of Maryland: MPowering the State—assisted with the formation of 14 companies based on intellectual property developed by UMB, UMBC, and UMCP last year.
And with USM institutions enrolling more than 1,400 additional majors in the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) in FY 14 alone, we are poised to further strengthen our impact on the innovation economy.
MORE RECOGNITION FOR USM EXCELLENCE
The Princeton Review, in partnership with USA Today, has named three USM institutions among the nation’s Top 80 “Best Value” Public Colleges for 2014—Salisbury University, UMBC, and UMCP. Some 30 factors related to academic quality, cost of attendance, and financial aid were considered. For a comprehensive list of current USM institutional rankings, please click HERE.
The Washington Post Magazine's education issue published last fall featured the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) on its cover with a corresponding article that both highlighted UMUC’s cybersecurity programs and cited four other USM institutions as “Centers of Excellence” in information assurance education and research designated by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security: UMCP, UMBC, Bowie State University, and Towson University.
APPLAUSE FOR REGENTS’ HONORS
Congratulations to members of the USM Board of Regents who received recent accolades. CRDF Global, an independent nonprofit organization that promotes international scientific and technical collaboration, honored Regent Norm Augustine with the 2013 George Brown Award for International Scientific Cooperation. (You also might enjoy Regent Augustine’s TEDxUSU talk on innovation, “Survival of the American Dream.”)
Regent Tom McMillen has been elected to the board of directors of the Humane Society of the United States and was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2013. Regent Pat Florestano was honored by the Baltimore Business Journal with an Outstanding Director Award for 2014.
As I mentioned in my fall letter, we are celebrating USM’s 25th anniversary. Throughout this academic year, we are observing this milestone with a look at the positive impact that USM has had—and continues to have—on the quality of life in our state, our nation, and our world. Please visit www.usmd.edu/25 and the USM Facebook page to participate in the celebration (and chances to win some great prizes).
A notable reminder of USM’s tremendous national impact occurred in January. I was called to a White House summit with President and Mrs. Obama, senior administration officials, and college and university leaders to discuss the president’s higher education agenda. The major focus was the importance of increasing college access and success, especially for economically disadvantaged and underrepresented populations. As part of this meeting, three specific USM initiatives were held up as models.
• The Achieving Collegiate Excellence and Success program—or ACES—uniting the Universities at Shady Grove (one of USM’s two regional centers), Montgomery College, and Montgomery County Public Schools. ACES provides students—especially minority and first-generation college students—with a successful pathway and access to high-quality public higher education.
• Way2GoMaryland, the USM’s information campaign aimed at middle school students, with some focus on those from low-income families. Through this program, we motivate and help students to begin preparing for college early.
• The STEM Transfer Success Initiative that brings together UMBC with four community colleges, those in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, and Montgomery counties. The initiative seeks to facilitate successful student transfer from two- to four-year STEM programs by addressing the transition process, which can often present a stumbling block to transfer students.
In addition, the USM’s leadership in the academic transformation movement—using innovative learning techniques and leading-edge technology to improve learning outcomes at the same or reduced costs—was highlighted. By the end of this academic year, the USM will have redesigned 85 courses, enrolling more than 24,000 students.
The impact of these and so many other efforts to enhance access, affordability, completion, and excellence highlights the significance of USM’s 25th anniversary celebration of success and progress.
LET ME HEAR FROM YOU
As always, I very much appreciate hearing from you. If you would like to offer feedback on this letter or any USM news, please write me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.