July 03, 1991

University of Maryland Chancellor Donald N. Langenberg was on the job a year before he was inaugurated in Baltimore last week. In a call-to-arms speech, Langenberg said American higher education must engage in a "revolution" to avoid becoming a "historical anachronism" and a "bastion of arrogant irrelevance."

Langenberg vowed that the university he heads will lead that revolution, but he didn't say how. He particularly didn't say how his revolution will occur at a university that has been badly wounded by budget cuts. The University of Maryland system has suffered some $70 million in cuts the past year alone (reducing its spending to the level of 1987), and its 5,262 classified employees, already denied a raise, have had to lengthen their work week to 40 hours. In this atmosphere it's difficult to make higher education the "vital engine of our society" envisioned by Langenberg.

Three years ago, the governor and General Assembly made higher education a top state priority and assigned the Maryland Higher Education Commission to prepare a master plan. Monday, the commission released that plan. It notes that $500 million will be required over the next five years to achieve long-range goals, and additional capital needs over the same period are estimated at $600 million to $700 million.

Most of that spending, of course, would go to the 11 campuses in the university system. If Langenberg hopes to lead a revolution in that system, he'll need first to convince the governor and General Assembly that higher education in 1991 is the top priority it was three years ago.

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