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, undergraduate students.

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 projects.

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,