Further budget cuts may force UM furloughs, chancellor warns

February 12, 1991|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,Evening Sun Staff

University of Maryland Chancellor Donald Langenberg says he may order furloughs for all 15,000 employees of the 11-campus system if further 1991 budget cuts are ordered by Gov. William Donald Schaefer.

Langenberg said the length of the furloughs will be determined by the size of the additional budget cut. A higher education source said the cut could be ordered by early March.

The system already has cut $53 million from this year's budget because of the recession and a drop in state sales and income taxes. Almost $430 million has been trimmed from overall state spending.

"We've managed to respond adequately to the first two cuts without having to turn to furloughs," Langenberg said in Annapolis yesterday after testifying before a subcommittee of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.

"But I think it's widely felt by all the presidents and directors and by me that we could not respond to another round of cuts without having to turn to furloughs."

Langenberg said the UM President's Council, a group of top administrators, has discussed furloughs since September.

If the council approves furloughs, they would take effect immediately and occur in the current spring semester. Langenberg said the administration would try to schedule faculty furloughs so that classes would not be disrupted.

The chancellor, who is paid $175,000 annually, includes himself in the furlough plan. It also would affect emergency-room nurses in Baltimore, computer specialists at the central administration in College Park and police at all campuses.

One day off without pay for the system's work force would result in a savings of $1.6 million, he said.

With 4 1/2 months remaining in the fiscal year, state budget officials are concerned that a drop in tax revenues from sluggish holiday retail sales may force another budget cut.

Last week, Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein released figures that show sales and income taxes are more than $26 million below revised estimates made last December.

Ray Feldman, a Schaefer spokesman, said future cuts are uncertain.

"At this point, we don't know if there will be an additional round of budget cuts," he said. "We don't know what departments or areas would be affected if there were additional cuts. To say the University of Maryland System [would endure more cuts] at this point would be speculation, but it is certainly possible that they could be asked to reduce funds if the current budget situation dictates."

Langenberg said this year's cuts have thwarted some progress the UM System has made since the General Assembly mandated a reorganization of higher education in 1988.

"The cuts we already have had this year in real terms mean a reduction in state support for the system that amounts to 25 percent. That's a major reduction," Langenberg said. "Anything further will add to that. They make staying of course toward national eminence very difficult -- but we're determined to do so."

The bleak economic situation also has dampened the morale of UM administrators.

UM College Park President William E. Kirwan said the first two rounds of cuts have forced a hiring freeze for part-time faculty, closing of the campus health center on weekends and evenings, cuts in library services and elimination of nine campus police positions. The cuts also have prompted certain blue-chip faculty members to defect to wealthier universities, Kirwan said.

"We are determined to hold on to our recent gains and protect our priorities," Kirwan said.

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