In addition to urging a merger of University of Maryland at Baltimore and University of Maryland Baltimore County (see above editorial), the Maryland Higher Education Commission's new master plan addresses two other priorities mandated in the 1988 higher education law -- improving the state's "flagship" campus at College Park and enhancing Maryland's historically black colleges and universities. Both recommendations are good ones.
The commission wants College Park protected against future budget cuts. College Park is the state's only comprehensive public research university and deserves special attention at budget time. Depending on the depth of the state's financial problems, it may not be possible to "hold harmless" the College Park budget, as the commission suggests. But when money is tight (or even when it is not), the state needs to make tough decisions based on its priorities. In the last round of budget cuts, all campuses were treated equally. This is not the way to turn College Park into a nationally recognized research university. Nor is it a wise or efficient way to spend limited taxpayer dollars.