A Message from Chancellor William E. Kirwan
to the USM Community (UPDATED)

December 12, 2008

Given the State of Maryland's serious budget shortfall for both the current fiscal year and FY 2010, I am sorry to report that the University System of Maryland (USM) is facing another round of budget reductions. As we decide how best to handle these reductions, we will continue to be guided by our commitment to protecting the interests of our students, sustaining the quality and integrity of our academic and research programs, and minimizing the impact on faculty and staff.

Earlier this fall, the state cut the USM's FY 2009 operating base budget by approximately $15 million. Working with the Board of Regents and our presidents, we addressed this reduction by implementing hiring freezes, increasing class sizes, and reducing facilities renewal funds.

Governor O'Malley recently announced that, due to the continuing decline in state revenues, his administration is working with the appropriate groups to develop a reduction plan that may include furloughs for state employees. The USM has been asked to reduce its current salary and wage budget by $15.9 million as part of this statewide reduction.

The USM is not part of the state's personnel system, which means that we will develop our own reduction plan, separate from the state's plan. Today, the USM Board of Regents approved a resolution authorizing me to work with the presidents to develop and implement a system-wide furlough proposal. Within some general parameters, each campus has flexibility to propose a plan that best meets its needs. The campus plans must be sent to my office for final approval. As plans are developed, the board resolution requires that campuses consult with the appropriate shared governance organizations and work with any unions representing campus employees.

The board resolution also stipulates that:

  • campus plans must ensure minimal disruptions to classes and student services;
  • the plans must take employee compensation levels into account in establishing the numbers of furlough days;
  • employees cannot be required to work or perform official duties during a furlough period, and there will be no reduction of employment benefits as a result of the plan's implementation.

For information on all of the provisions in the board's action, please access the full resolution here:
http://www.usmd.edu/usm/chancellor/budget/borresolution.doc. These budget reductions are causing real hardships throughout the system. It is especially distressing to implement furlough plans because of the impact they will have on the dedicated and talented faculty and staff who do so much to support and advance the missions of our institutions. Nonetheless, the USM must do its part to help the state get through this difficult period.

Fortunately, Governor O'Malley and our state legislators continue to demonstrate their strong support. They recognize USM's positive impact on the economy and workforce, as well as the quality of life throughout our state. I am confident that higher education, and the USM in particular, will be given high priority by the Governor and the state as they make future budget decisions.

To keep you informed of USM actions related to the state's budget process, we are developing a budget updates page on the system web site. Visit it periodically for the latest information: http://www.usmd.edu/usm/chancellor/budget/.

In closing, let me say that I recognize that this is a difficult time for all of us in the University System of Maryland. As we address our budget situation, I want to assure you that we will do so in the most sensitive way possible, respecting the high quality of the work performed by our faculty and staff and our responsibilities to the students and the state we serve.