USM Advocacy Day Draws Large Turnout in Annapolis

University System of Maryland Faculty, Staff and Students Rally for Budget Support

Adelphi, Md. (Feb. 28, 2017) -- University System of Maryland (USM) leadership councils representing students, faculty, and staff met with members of the Maryland General Assembly today to discuss system-wide priorities as part of USM Advocacy Day in Annapolis.

The Council of University System Faculty (CUSF), Council of University System Staff (CUSS) and USM Student Council (USMSC) met as a group with key legislators in the morning and during a noon luncheon to discuss system-wide priorities, with a primary focus on support for Gov. Larry Hogan's $1.35 billion fiscal year 2018 state budget to the USM.

As advisory councils to the Board of Regents and to the Chancellor, these members represent the academic professionals, technically skilled and managerial group employees, and students-all of whom are so vital to the USM. Council members work diligently to engender a sense of university community and cultivate an ideal environment for teaching, learning and service.

Advocacy Day is an annual event undertaken largely by the USM councils in conjunction with the USM Foundation. The USM Office of Government Relations helps to coordinate the organization process.

USM Chancellor Robert L. Caret addressed the group during the USM Advocacy Day luncheon, attended by several legislators after the various USM councils had met in individual legislators' offices during the morning.

"We are the workforce engine. We are the economic engine of Maryland," Caret told the group. "We need all of us to constantly reinforce the message -- that we're here for the same thing: quality education and a strong quality of life for the citizens of Maryland."

The proposed total state support for the USM of $1.35 billion from the governor would come from the General Fund and the Higher Education Investment Fund. The proposed budget results in an increase from the current fiscal year of $26.6 million-or approximately 2 percent for the USM.

There are three components to the $26.6 million increase in state funds: 1) funding for tuition relief; 2) support to implement SB 1052, the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership Act; and 3) funding for operating expenses for new building openings.

The $16.4 million fund for tuition relief will allow for a "tuition buy-down," enabling the USM to cap resident undergraduate tuition increases at a modest 2 percent.  This annual increase is well below annual increases for in-state, undergraduate tuition that have risen between 5% and 12% from year to year in certain states around the U.S.

The luncheon group also heard from Del. Adrienne A. Jones, an alumna of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) who serves as Maryland Speaker Pro Tem of the House of Delegates.

"We see in you," she told the students who'd gathered, "our future, in terms of what Maryland can be."

With a continued focus on tuition affordability, this is the second consecutive year Governor Hogan has provided tuition relief to make college in Maryland more affordable and accessible.

At this time during the annual legislative session, the legislature is considering the entire state operating budget. The legislature cannot add to the budget. It has the ability only to make reductions in the budget. USM's main priority is to ensure the legislature does not reduce the system's budget and all funding is kept for higher education. 

A critical message during USM Advocacy Day is that an investment in the USM is an investment in the state of Maryland.

CUSF, CUSS, and the USMSC urged legislators to remember that strong budgetary support of the USM helps to ensure the benefits that USM brings to the state. These benefits include continued economic development and improvement in the quality of life for Maryland citizens; advancement of commercialization and technology transfer; and development of groundbreaking research and discovery in such areas as health care, energy, and cybersecurity.

Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719