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Friday, April 13, 2007

Board of Regents

Chancellor William E. Kirwan

 

Thank you Mr. Chairman and members of the Board of Regents.  Let me add my welcome to our new regents.

With the Faculty Awards, a full agenda, and significant budgetary /legislative information to cover, I will try to keep my comments brief.

I begin by thanking our host this morning: the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) and President Don Boesch.  As you may know, Don and David Nemazie-Assistant to the President-recently served as members of Governor O'Malley's Environment and Natural Resources Transition Work Group.  In addition, Don served as co-chair of the Coordinating Subcommittee, which had the formidable task of merging nine separate reports into a single comprehensive transition document.  Their work was key in establishing the Governor's BayStat initiative to better monitor and coordinate efforts to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay.  Their efforts reflect exceptionally well upon Don, UMCES - the state's primary resource for studying and protecting the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed, and upon the entire University System of Maryland.

In other news across the USM . . . .

Seven members of the USM "family" were listed among the Daily Record's "50 Influential Marylanders for 2007":

  • University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) President Freeman Hrabowski
  • University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) President Dan Mote
  • University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute (UMBI) President Jennie Hunter-Cevera
  • Dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine Albert Reece
  • Dean of the University of Maryland School of Law Karen Rothenberg
  • Director of the Maryland Industrial Partnerships Program at UMCP, Martha Connolly
  • And UMCP Athletic Director, Debbie Yow

Also in the Daily Record, three USM leaders were named among "Maryland's Top 100 Women" for 2007:

  • Dr. Carolyn B. Brooks, Dean of the School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences, University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES)
  • Dr. Janet Dudley-Eshbach, President of Salisbury University (SU)
  • Dr. Jennie Hunter-Cevera, President of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute (UMBI)

Once again, USM institutions did very well in the 2008 edition of U.S. News's rankings of America's Best Graduate Schools. 

U.S. News ranked UMCP's graduate business, education, and engineering programs in the top tiers of their fields.

  • The Robert H. Smith School of Business climbed to 25th among national business schools.
  • The College of Education rose to 21st among graduate education programs.
  • And UMCP's Clark School of Engineering ranked 16th and its aerospace engineering program ranked 11th.

At the University of Maryland, Baltimore:

  • The School of Nursing climbed from 10th to seventh place among all nursing schools in the nation.
  • The School of Medicine rose to 16th in research and 20th in primary care instruction among the nation's public medical schools.
  • And the School of Law advanced from 42nd to 36th among the nation's law schools, placing 15th among all public law schools nationally.

UMB also excelled in the most recent Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) research rankings. In terms of total direct research expenditures, among all 126 public and private medical schools, the UM School of Medicine now ranks 18th overall and 8th among public medical school.  They ranked 3rd among public medical schools in research grants and contracts expenditures per clinical faculty. 

With this success at the medical school, an outstanding new dean, the creation of the new Institute of Genome Sciences under the direction of a recent recruit and one of America's leading genomic scientists - Claire M. Fraser-Liggett, and the move of the Institute of Human Virology into the School of Medicine, UMB's School of Medicine is poised for even greater accomplishments and recognition in the future.  Very fittingly, all these developments occur as the School also celebrates its bicentennial this year.

UMBC has also received significant attention recently.  There was a wonderful feature of President Freeman Hrabowski in the Chronicle of Higher Education earlier this week.  Last month the New York Times profiled UMBC Distinguished Professor Michael F. Summers, Freeman, and the Meyerhoff Program as an example of an institution combining both outstanding science and diversity. 

We have just released our "Listening Tour Report."  You will recall that the three sectors of higher education - two year colleges, four year publics, and the independent institutions came together in an impressive display of collaboration.  We traveled together to 7 locations around the state to listen to business and community leaders as they told us about their higher education needs.  The report, which has been sent to all of you, presents the findings of the listening tour as well as recommendations and action items developed from the discussions at the seven stops.  

In addition to broader themes, the steering committee, of which I am a member, developed three recommendations to be implemented as a result of the listening tour:

  • Create a Clearinghouse for Internship Opportunities to engage both small and large businesses in developing internship opportunities for Maryland's higher education students.
  • Create New and Expand Existing Degree Programs That Address Workforce Shortages Areas discovered during the tour, as well as those outlined in the soon to be released report of the Governor's Workforce Investment Board.
  • Develop Communication And Outreach Strategies aimed at encouraging greater proportions of middle school students to prepare for post-secondary education.

The steering committee will be responsible for implementing these recommendations.  I again want to thank the presidents for their support of this effort and, most especially, Anne Moultrie for her leadership in organizing the tour and for the preparation of the final report.

An issue that has gained a lot of national attention these past few weeks is the inappropriate relationship between financial aid officials on some college campuses and the "preferred" lenders that these officials recommend to their students.  Several embarrassing situations have been uncovered at universities across the nation.   As you know, I asked our presidents to look into this matter immediately and to report back to me on practices at their respective campuses.  While we are still assessing their reports, I am pleased to say that none of the situations that have gained so much notoriety at other campuses have been identified within the USM.  I will make a full report to you on my findings within the next weeks or so.

I'll end my report with a summary of the recently concluded legislative session.  In short, it was a very successful session for the USM and we are indebted to Governor O'Malley and the General Assembly for their strong support of higher education and, in particular, the USM.  

Operating Budget

In the final budget decisions, our operating budget was cut by $2 million off of a $70 million request.  Most state entities received much deeper cuts.  Given what happened to other state agencies, and given that the legislature's budget staff recommended a cut of $15 million, a total reduction of only $2 million has to be viewed as satisfactory outcome. 

Despite this generally favorable outcome, there is a disturbing policy aspect about the cut.  The budget language stipulates that the cut should come from enrollment growth funds and, further, that the USM should not lower its enrollment projections.  This flies in the face of the enrollment growth principle we thought had been established with the state; namely, that the state would provide its share of the cost on a per student basis as we serve more students.  We intend to seek greater clarity on this matter from the General Assembly leadership.  After further consultation with the legislative leadership and the presidents, I will be coming back to the Board to recommend a strategy for addressing this $2 million cut.

I want to emphasize again, however, how well we have been supported by the Governor and the General Assembly.  With the addition of a 2% COLA to our budget, we will receive a General Fund increase of about 9% for FY 08, a level of funding that few university in the nation will be able to match.    Clearly, higher education in general-and the USM in particular-continues to gain prominence in the mind of leaders in Annapolis as a "funding priority".

Capital Budget

The capital budget is also an area where the USM saw some significant successes, coupled with a few disappointments.  On the plus side, our total allocation is $172M, one of the largest allocations to the USM in history.  Also, the Tawes project at College Park was added into the budget.  Although this was accomplished by reducing FY08 funding for the Coppin State Physical Education Building, the reduction will actually not cause any construction delays, as funding for the Coppin project will be added back in FY09 and in time to keep the project on track. 

A major disappointment with the Capital Budget is that planning funds for the Pharmacy Building at UMB, which were not included in the Governor's Budget, were not added by the General Assembly as we had hoped. There is, however, language essentially guaranteeing these funds in FY09.

Legislation

There were two pieces of legislation that were especially important to the USM.  The first was the much discussed program duplication bill.  Significantly different versions of this bill passed in the Senate and the House.  The differences were so great in fact that no agreement could be reached on a final version and so no final bill was enacted.

Also in the "did not pass" category was the collective bargaining "agency fees" bill, which would have allowed for the possibility of dues payment from staff whether or not they were members of a union, and a bill providing for in-state tuition for undocumented resident students.

Many Annapolis veterans agree that this was one of the most difficult sessions ever because of the tightness of funds, the resolve of the General Assembly to cut the Governor's budget, and several pieces of highly contentious legislation. However, my feeling is that we came through the session very, very well.  The reason for our success can be found throughout the USM, with our Regents, Presidents, System and campus officers, faculty and staff, and, of course, our students, engaging elected officials and making the case for support of our institutions so effectively. 

I want to make special note of the work Roz Hamlett and the campus government relations officers.  In a very challenging environment, they came together to work collectively, collaboratively and very effectively on behalf of the system.  We simply could not have been as successful without their hard work.

Mr. Chairman . . . . this completes my report.