Gov. William Donald Schaefer supports the proposed merger of the University of Maryland's Baltimore and Baltimore County campuses, a spokeswoman said.
The University of Maryland System's governing board voted unanimously yesterday to merge the downtown professional schools with the campus in Catonsville.
The new school, called the University of Maryland Baltimore, would focus on the health and life sciences, technology, social work, law and public policy.
The resolution asks Schaefer and the state legislature to grant the necessary approvals, even though details of the merger are not available yet.
"The governor endorses the idea of the merger because it would be a great boost to higher education in the state. It would be a new and different institution that would complement [the University of Maryland at] College Park," said Page Boinest, Schaefer's assistant press secretary.
Legislation to merge the University of Maryland at Baltimore and the University of Maryland Baltimore County will likely be introduced when the 1992 General Assembly convenes next month, Boinest said.
If ultimately approved, the merger would be implemented July 1, 1993, and would take three to five years to complete.
One administration would oversee more than 15,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students (such as those in law and medicine) at the two locations. UMB would have 2,000 full- and part-time faculty members.
One benefit of the larger school would be its ability to qualify for more research grants, regent Henry R. Lord said. UMB would be almost half the size of the system's flagship campus at College Park.
The merger would not save much money, if any.
"It will be cost-saving over time, but we cannot present this as a cost-saving measure. It would be a mistake to assume that's the driving reason to do this," Lord said.
Other university presidents have expressed concern that UMB would duplicate their functions, rather than complement them. If that were to happen, they said, the new school could drain money from their universities, particularly those in metropolitan Baltimore and College Park.
The board said officials should develop a mission statement that defines the relationships between UMB and other schools in the University of Maryland System to make sure they complement each other.
College Park President William E. Kirwan said the regents were taking pains to make sure UMB did not become another College Park.
"The regents are being very careful to identify the ways this institution [UMB] will be separate," Kirwan said.
The combined annual spending at UMB for instruction, research and other areas would be more than $300 million, based on last year's budgets.