Governor, Legislature Increase Commitment to Higher Education During Legislative Session

ADELPHI, Md. (April 17, 2006) - The University System of Maryland (USM) emerged a big winner from the 2006 General Assembly session, with a record 15 percent increase in state funding for USM institutions in FY 2007.

The session began on a high note for USM, when, in January, Governor Robert E. Ehrlich proposed an increase of 14.5 percent in the state-funded portion of the system's operating budget. When the General Assembly adjourned on April 10, the increase was slightly higher than expected, marking an historic financial commitment to higher education in the state of Maryland.

USM Chancellor William E. Kirwan said, "We are grateful to Governor Ehrlich, Senate President Mike Miller, House Speaker Michael Busch, and all the legislators. They have made an extraordinary investment in our students, in our state's future, and in the entire higher education community. We recognize the tremendous responsibility we have as stewards of public funds, and we will continue to demonstrate our commitment to invest those funds wisely, and maximize the benefits for all Maryland citizens."

Before the session convened in January, representatives from the system's budget office began a process of on-going discussions with key budget officials in Annapolis. The purpose of the meetings was to discuss the goals of USM - to provide affordable, accessible, high-quality education for all students - and align those goals with the state's funding priorities and workforce needs.

In addition, the system took an aggressive approach to cutting costs two years ago, when USM's Board of Regents initiated the Effectiveness and Efficiency effort. By identifying and implementing ways to most effectively use financial resources, and ensure academic quality and access, USM has saved $40 million in costs since 2004. That effort, combined with the proactive approach to addressing the budget, paid off. The state-funded portion of USM's total budget for FY 2007 reached a record high - a $913.9 million operating budget and a $195 million capital budget. And for the first time, the state allocated funding specifically targeted to enrollment growth, an important change in policy from previous years.

Budget highlights include:

  • a tuition freeze at current levels for full-time, in-state, undergraduates, made possible by $18 million supplemental appropriation;
  • $15 million to fund an enrollment growth of almost 3500 students in FY 2007;
  • a 34 percent increase in funding to further enhance USM's Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Bowie State University, Coppin State University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore;
  • a 31 percent increase in need-based financial aid;
  • $8 million to further enhance academic and research programs at the University of Maryland, College Park's, the state's flagship public institution;
  • More than $3 million in seed money for USM's $1.5 billion fund-raising campaign.

In addition to the operating budget, USM's capital budget will fund major construction initiatives, including:

  • $49.5 million for the new Teacher Education and Technology Center at Salisbury University;
  • $43.9 million for the new Fine and Performing Arts Building at Towson University;
  • $13.8 million for the Academic Technology Support Center at the University of Maryland University College;
  • $10.3 million for campus-wide utility improvements at Coppin State University;
  • $10 million for the Journalism Building at the University of Maryland, College Park;
  • $15 million for system-wide facilities renewal.

"It was an extraordinary legislative session for USM," said Chancellor Kirwan. "The approach we developed this year in partnership with Governor Ehrlich and the General Assembly proved to be extremely valuable. If we can replicate in the future the approach to budget development that we've taken this year, and continue our aggressive efforts to control the cost increases, I believe our students, our institutions, and indeed the state of Maryland, will be served very well."

Contact: Liz O'Neill
Phone: 301.445.2719