The president of the University of Maryland's University College said today a proposal to eliminate the college from the UM System should be ignored and the college should receive the $39 million it is seeking to operate in 1992.
The president, T. Benjamin Massey, issued a statement that offers an alternative recommendation to a proposal by state Higher Education Secretary Shaila Aery to remove his college from the system.
Massey suggested that Aery's proposal be overturned and that the college, which serves adult continuing education students, be allowed to grow and "maintain its position as one of the nation's leading providers of continuing higher education to adults."
Massey yesterday attended a meeting of the Maryland Higher Education Commission in hopes of receiving some answers to his questions about Aery's plan, which was released at noon Monday. However, the commission and its Education Policy Committee deferred discussion about the elimination plan until mid-December.
"No one understood where the recommendation is coming from," said Massey, president of University College since 1978. "The regents were surprised and concerned that there was no consultation with them about it. There's no rhyme or reason to it and I can't make any sense of what's happening."
Aery's recommendation is to merge the University College curriculum into the course offerings of the College Park campus because the cost per credit hour at College Park is cheaper. It costs $190 a credit hour for a Maryland resident and $260 a credit hour for a non-state resident to take graduate courses at University College. Those costs are $128 and $229, respectively, at College Park.
Overall, Aery said, it would save about $30 million to merge the two campuses and would offer more affordable educational options to the 14,600 students who want to take continuing education courses.
But Massey contended that it would cost more to eliminate University College because faculty salaries would go up.
"Not only would it not cost less, it would cost more," he said. "Our faculty salaries are low -- about $4,000 compared to College Park's $10,000 -- and to serve College Park classes, these salaries would go up. The increase in costs has got to come from somewhere -- either the students or the state."
The Educational Policy Committee is to hold a public hearing on the plan about Dec. 10 and the commission is expected to vote on it Dec. 19. If approved by the commission, the issue would move to the General Assembly as legislation.
In another matter yesterday, the commission approved an operating budget request for $893 million for 1992 for all four-year institutions in the state. The request, which will be presented to Gov. William Donald Schaefer, may change after a second round of cost containment reductions are ordered next month by the governor.
The request contains an additional $43.8 million in priorities to be funded in a budget that is "above" the operating request. Many of those priorities were cuts that were mandated this fall by Schaefer in an attempt to reduce a state budget shortfall that could reach $300 million.
The commission also approved a $110.6 million capital budget request for 1992.