January 23, 2008
Dear USM Faculty and Staff:
As you know, Governor Martin
O'Malley recently submitted his proposed FY 2009 operating and capital budgets
for the University System of Maryland (USM) to the Maryland General Assembly.
Both budgets demonstrate Governor O'Malley's ongoing strong support for higher
Overall, the proposed capital
budget is extremely positive. During the five years covered by the budget, USM
is slated to receive more than $1.1 billion to advance key projects such as the
new Physical Sciences Complex at the University of Maryland, College Park; the
Oyster Cultivation Facility at the University of Maryland Center for
Environmental Science; the College of Liberal Arts at Towson University; the Health
and Human Services facility at Coppin State University; and the University of
Baltimore Law School. Most notably, the School of Pharmacy addition at the
University of Maryland, Baltimore, was advanced by a year.
The Governor's proposed
operating budget supports our shared goal of providing affordable access to
quality programs and services. In addition, it recognizes and supports USM's
critical role in meeting workforce shortages and driving economic development.
The proposal also enables USM to advance vital initiatives, such as our effort
to close the achievement gap between low-income and first-generation students,
and the student body at large.
A major highlight of the
operating budget is the state's first-ever dedicated funding source for higher
education: the Higher Education Investment Fund (HEIF) proposed by the Governor
and enacted by the General Assembly during the fall 2007 legislative special
session. Funding from the HEIF will be used to enable our universities to once
again hold tuition unchanged for in-state, undergraduate students. If the Governor's
proposal is approved, an in-state student who entered a USM institution as a freshman
in fall 2005 and who graduates in spring 2009 will have paid the same tuition
rate for his or her entire undergraduate career.
All told, through general funds
and the HEIF, the Governor's proposed budget increases state support for USM by
9.4 percent. Along with replacing funds needed to hold tuition for in-state,
undergraduate students at current levels and maintain quality, this increase will:
fully cover our
fund an increase of
1,529 students (full-time-equivalent) through the Enrollment Funding
financial aid by approximately $7.2 million; and
development in critical areas and research initiatives aimed at increasing
Maryland's economic competitiveness.
The budget proposal
acknowledges that a productive future for the State of Maryland is tied
directly to a strong public higher education system. It also recognizes USM's
pivotal role in securing Maryland's leadership in the "knowledge" economy
through education, training, research, and discovery.
Of course, it has been
you-the leadership, faculty, and staff of our institutions-who have made this
success possible. Through your hard work and professionalism, you have elevated
our university system to new heights of excellence. Through your dedicated
efforts, we have aligned our priorities with those of the State of Maryland,
creating a true partnership of progress with the state. Through your advocacy,
you have made higher education a true funding priority. I am proud of the
entire University System of Maryland "family" and thank you for all you do on
behalf of the system, the state, and the students we serve.
We are fortunate that Governor
O'Malley and our state legislators are firmly committed to ensuring that the
University System of Maryland, and indeed all of higher education in the state,
is strong. Moving forward in partnership with our elected officials, and with our
many alumni and friends, the University System of Maryland will continue to
make the case for investing in the state's public higher education system.
William E. Kirwan
P.S. If you are in Annapolis during the
legislative session or anytime through November 2008, I encourage you to visit the
wonderful USM exhibit on the second floor of the Miller Senate Office Building.
The exhibit recognizes the system's 20th anniversary and highlights
the remarkable achievements of our campuses.