GBC seeks to retain permanent full-time president at University of Maryland, Baltimore if strategic partnership advances

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In a statement filed with the Senate Budget & Taxation Committee, the Greater Baltimore Committee recognized the importance of collaboration and cooperation in a strategic partnership proposal between the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore, but expressed a number of concerns and proposed amendments to protect the authority and autonomy of the President of University of Maryland, Baltimore.

Senate Bill 1052 – the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership Act of 2016 – would change the relationship between the University of Maryland, College Park – the University System of Maryland’s flagship institution – and University of Maryland, Baltimore.

The bill was scheduled to be heard before the Senate Budget & Taxation Committee on March 22.

The legislation proposes a unified University of Maryland that consists of a University of Maryland, College Park campus and a University of Maryland, Baltimore campus, resulting in one less higher education institution in the University System of Maryland. The legislation defines this relationship as a strategic partnership rather than a merger.

Advocates contend that forming a strategic partnership would allow for joint reporting of research expenditures and federal research dollars for national ranking purposes.

Without question, the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore each have strong research components and the ability to present a cumulative approach to national research rankings would improve the State of Maryland rankings.

The GBC also noted the following benefits contained in the legislation:

  • The creation of a Center for Maryland Advanced Ventures at the University of Maryland in Baltimore City. The center would pursue grant funding and develop and implement guidelines for the transfer of technology developed by the University of Maryland to the private sector. It would also be responsible for facilitating the transfer of technology to commercial industries.
  • The creation of the University of Maryland Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Development in College Park. The center would advance the education of students in virtual reality, neurosciences, data analytics, and cybersecurity.
  • The relocation of the University System of Maryland headquarters from Prince George’s County to Baltimore City.

The Greater Baltimore Committee is chiefly concerned about the potential for diminishing the autonomy and authority of the president of University of Maryland, Baltimore, as the legislation is written. The GBC is adamant that the role of president at the University of Maryland, Baltimore and the authority and autonomy granted to the president shall not be diminished. The GBC maintains that the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore shall each retain permanent full-time presidents with the power of two co-equals.

Other concerns expressed include the blending of the different cultures of the two institutions – a predominately-undergraduate liberal arts institution and a professional school – into a single personnel system and the effect a strategic partnership between the two large institutions will have on the smaller institutions and the University System of Maryland as a whole.

Five years ago a similar proposal was considered, which resulted in the Maryland General Assembly directing the University System of Maryland Board of Regents to examine the advantages and disadvantages of merging the two institutions into a single University of Maryland.

At that time the Greater Baltimore Committee testified before the Board of Regents in opposition to a merger because of the potential loss of a president at the University of Maryland, Baltimore and that the goals of creating better collaboration and teamwork between the two universities could be achieved without a merger.

Ultimately the Board of Regents did not recommend a merger; however, they did note that additional collaboration and partnership could be achieved between the two institutions.

As of the time of the writing of this update, no action has been taken by the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. A committee meeting to consider amendments will likely be held next week.

Read the bill here.

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