ANNAPOLIS – Public and private college presidents banded together in an unusual show of camaraderie Thursday to fight additional higher education budget cuts.
University System of Maryland officials have spent weeks lamenting the cuts at public meetings, but they have not joined with officials from other affected institutions — private schools and state community colleges — to draw attention to the issue.
“I know of no other state where public and private colleges can come together and speak with one voice,” said Johns Hopkins University President William Brody.
For the first time, system officials also presented a campus-by-campus breakdown of how state institutions will operate with a $67 million budget reduction in fiscal year 2004.
System officials said they have resigned themselves to working with Gov. Robert Ehrlich’s budget proposal, which freezes spending for the system’s 13 institutions at $800 million next year. But they are objecting to additional cuts of $38 million, proposed recently by analysts in the Department of Legislative Services.
“The proposed reductions are real. They are painful. And they are going to stall the great progress system institutions have made in recent years,” said Catherine Gira, president of Frostburg State University.
The governor’s proposed cuts already are forcing state colleges and universities to alter plans for next year – and that’s without contemplating the effects of the analysts’ recommendations.
At the University of Maryland, College Park, the system’s flagship campus, officials may abandon searches for nearly 50 positions, resulting in fewer classes being taught by core faculty members. The university also would lay off 75 employees and freeze some hiring.
Frostburg State University, which already has announced plans to furlough employees this year, would also have to eliminate 22 vacant positions and trim money for computer labs.
The University of Baltimore would cut 28.5 full-time and vacant positions, including 8.5 this fiscal year.
President David Ramsay said the university also will be without two physicians in its shock trauma unit.
“There’s no doubt whatsoever that the services will be reduced,” he said.
Salisbury State University would lay off between eight and 15 employees and furlough all employees for up to two days, including faculty, under the proposed 2004 budget.
Bowie State University would lay off 30 administrative employees and eliminate 22 new faculty positions needed for enrollment increases.
Community college officials said they, too, are worried because their budgets are based, in part, on a 1997 formula that links their budgets to the dollar amount the University System of Maryland receives each year per full-time student. Because the governor’s budget reduces system spending, community colleges will likely feel the effects.
“There’s no state in the country that links the destinies of (community colleges) more than Maryland,” said Anthony Kinkel, executive director of the Maryland Association of Community Colleges. The time has come, he said, for two- year schools “to stand up and be counted.”
The University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents last month implemented a mid-year tuition increase after Ehrlich announced additional budget cuts for 2003.
The purpose of the gathering was to oppose additional cuts and support the governor’s 2004 budget, said Chancellor William Kirwan. But he stopped short of saying he supported Ehrlich’s proposal to raise money with slot machines.
“We don’t see our role to identify for the state how to collect revenue,” he said.
“The message we want to convey is simple,” Gira said. “We are urging the General Assembly to support the proposed budget for 2004 . . . and make no further cuts.”