Report urges merger of 2 UM campuses Unity would create "major university."

November 01, 1991|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,Evening Sun Staff

A new University of Maryland Baltimore should be created by merging the university's Baltimore and Baltimore County campuses to "improve the quality of education . . . and career opportunities for our students," a task force report says.

The report, to be released today by UM Chancellor Donald Langenberg, recommends merging the two institutions by 1993 to "provide an extraordinary opportunity to create a major university that will be responsive to the future needs of Baltimore and the region."

A copy of the 10-page UMAB/UMBC Task Force on Unification report was obtained yesterday by The Evening Sun.

It concludes that merging the downtown University of Maryland at Baltimore and the University of Maryland Baltimore County in Catonsville would not produce any cost savings for the recession-whipped UM System, but would establish a major research institution with a Carnegie 1 classification, the highest academic status nationally available.

"This classification would enable the larger university to compete more effectively for resources at the federal level while enhancing the state's efforts to attract research-oriented industry to the Baltimore metropolitan region," the report states.

The city campus currently houses the university's law, medical, dental and other professional schools, while UMBC offers broad undergraduate and graduate studies.

The report predicts that "greater administrative efficiency" would result from the merger, which would eliminate one president and a number of other administrators from the UM System.

The task force report is to be presented to the UM Board of Regents this month for consideration. Public hearings on the proposal are scheduled for Nov. 6 at UMBC and Nov. 19 at UMAB.

After that, the matter would go to the Maryland Higher Education Commission for its consideration and would require approval by the General Assembly.

Merging the two institutions was proposed this summer by state Higher Education Secretary Shaila Aery as a way for the UM System to save money in the midst of a state fiscal crisis.

Aery also proposed merging two predominantly black city institutions, Morgan State University and Coppin State College. MHEC is studying that proposal, which has sparked controversy in the black community.

A marriage of UMAB and UMBC -- which are about 10 miles apart -- would weld UMBC's programs of computer and information sciences, engineering, biotechnology, public policy, history and social work with UMAB's professional schools of health sciences, law and social work, the report says.

"Professional students at UMAB would be able to supplement their programs with arts, sciences and engineering courses at UMBC and undergraduates at UMBC will have expanded opportunities for course work in professional programs," the report says.

"Exciting new programs will serve future citizens . . . new careers will be created and new professions will blossom."

If approved, the merger would take one year to orchestrate, the report says, with a three- to five-year transition period beginning July 1, 1993. Concerns over a merger include a loss of federal research recovery costs at the UM School of Medicine, which could have a "destabilizing" impact on faculty recruitment and retention.

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