The University of Maryland System has been told to cut $24.1 million from its 1992 budget, and that the latest swing of the budget ax could lead to a tuition increase for students in January.
UM Chancellor Donald Langenberg was informed of the new round of higher education cuts last week by the Department of Budget and Fiscal Planning, the governor's budget department. The cuts are part of a statewide $300 million belt-tightening announced earlier this month in response to a revenue shortfall in the state's general fund.
Last year, the system cut $60 million from its operating budget because of the state revenue slide. The cuts produced hiring freezes, halts to equipment purchases and off-campus travel, and part-time faculty layoffs.
Cuts to this year's $1.5 billion UM operating budget are to be discussed at Wednesday's meeting of the UM Board of Regents. At that time, Langenberg said, he plans to ask the board to consider a 15 percent tuition "surcharge" as one way to increase revenues. The surcharge would become effective in January, when the spring semester begins.
The surcharge would mean, for example, that students at Towson State University, who pay about $850 per semester, would be charged an additional $127.50, if the regents approve the plan. Towson State is expected to enroll 15,000 students this fall. The tuition increases would be different at the system's other 10 schools.
It would be the second tuition increase for state students this year. A 4 percent increase for undergraduate state students approved by the regents last fall will take effect next month, Langenberg said.
"It is quite likely we'll have to consider a significant tuition action in response to the cut," Langenberg said. "These are major and significant changes in the system and [they affect] the number of people we can serve and how we can serve them."
In addition to asking for the tuition surcharge, Langenberg is recommending that the regents approve up to five furlough days for system employees at the 11 campuses, which could save about $10 million, the chancellor said. To make up for the latest budget cut, campuses may have to drop some academic programs and lay off some student employees and part-time, non-instructional employees such as secretaries.
"I'm not sure we can do that and run the place," Towson State President Hoke L. Smith said of the proposed layoffs of clerical and student employees that could save an estimated $724,000. "Changes to our instructional quality will be minimal, but library services hours and other services to students may be cut, and it may also mean that some reports to the state will not get in in time."
The UM cuts will be assessed at a different amount for each campus and will come out of the $600 million that the state contributes to the system's operating budget.
Towson State will be assessed a $2.6 million cut out of the latest round. The university was cut $5.5 million over three assessments last year. Smith said he expects more cuts this year.
At Salisbury State University on the Eastern Shore, President Thomas Bellavance said he expects to cut $800,000 from his 1992 budget.
"It hits us pretty hard," said Bellavance, who trimmed $1.5 million from his budget last year. "In terms of fat-trimming, we did that last year."
News of the first higher education budget cuts of 1992 come at a time when many UM presidents and some administrators are lobbying for an overhaul of state taxes, which is expected to be considered by the Maryland General Assembly next January. A new tax system would most likely lead to higher taxes and possibly more revenue for state universities and colleges.