July 23, 2007
Dear USM Faculty and Staff:
As many of you know, to address the State of Maryland's
$1.5 billion "structural deficit," Governor Martin O'Malley proposed, and
the Board of Public Works approved, $213 million in
state budget reductions for the current fiscal year. These budget cuts include
a $12 million decrease in the University System of Maryland's FY 2008
state budget appropriation of $1.04 billion, which translates to a 1.2 percent
decrease in state funding for the current fiscal year.
In determining how to absorb these cuts, we began with the
premise that our key priorities of access, affordability, and quality be
maintained to the greatest extent possible. Therefore, we are not decreasing student financial aid;
we are not decreasing private
fund-raising activities, much of which is targeted to support student financial
aid and faculty excellence; we are not
decreasing funds supporting public safety; and, of course, we are not increasing tuition for in-state,
In addition, in recognition of the fact that faculty and
staff are USM's greatest asset and a driving force behind our rise to national
eminence, there will be no layoffs or furloughs, no salary
reductions, and no postponement of COLA or merit pay increases.
Clearly, however, a reduction of $12 million in state
support will have significant impact, including:
Fewer course sections, resulting in larger class
sizes, but preserving the availability of classes;
Delays in hiring new faculty and jeopardizing
funding for faculty retention;
Constrained ability to acquire new space for
research activities, negatively impacting grant funding;
Postponement of investments in technology
supporting instruction, research, and clinical programs;
Postponement of selected facilities renewal
I certainly understand that these actions will cause
hardships. But given the difficult choices that we had to make, the Board of
Regents, USM office, and campus leaders believe that these steps represent the
most effective way to address the reduction in state funding.
Unfortunately, further cuts-and more difficult choices-could
be on the horizon as state officials work to further reduce the structural
deficit going into the 2008 legislative session and FY 2009.
Fortunately, elected officials across the board have voiced
their strong support for higher education and our university system. In fact, in
negotiations regarding the current budget, USM was able to reduce its overall
budget cut from $20 million to $12 million, thanks in large part to the steps
we have taken to control costs through our Effectiveness and Efficiency
initiative. E&E has enabled USM to reduce spending, enhance quality,
accommodate rising enrollment, and keep tuition stable. I am pleased that this
impact has been noted-and rewarded-by leaders in Annapolis.
Of course, it is your
efforts that have made E&E so successful. Speaking for Board of Regents
Chairman Clifford Kendall and the full board, and the system office, I want to
express our deep appreciation for your commitment and dedication to advancing
the excellence of USM's institutions.
Our reputation as an organization committed to efficiency,
innovation, and cost-effective stewardship strengthens USM's ability to work
with leaders in Annapolis as future
budget negotiations progress. We understand the severity of Maryland's
budget situation and fully recognize the University System of Maryland's obligation
to do its part to address the state's structural deficit. At the same time, we assure
you that we will advocate strongly for investments in USM's priorities of
access, affordability, and academic and research excellence.
The Board of Regents and the system leadership look forward
to working with you through the system-wide councils as we continue to make our
case for ample state funding for the University System of Maryland.
William E. Kirwan,