UM chancellor says quality is top job More aid or higher tuition needed, Langenberg says.

January 28, 1992|By Patricia Meisol

The University of Maryland chancellor said today the state must choose between more public aid for higher education or substantial tuition increases to achieve the quality envisioned for the system in a 1988 reform law.

Chancellor Donald N. Langenberg also asked the university's governing board to force campuses to bring in revenues from other non-state sources besides tuition -- including entrepreneurial activity by faculty, research and development funds, and philanthropic support.

The suggestions are part of a 41-page vision statement for the 11-campus UM system in which Dr. Langenberg also called for a kind of independence for University College, the continuing education branch at College Park.

The document was presented for review today to a committee of the University of Maryland Board of Regents.

The chancellor's long-awaited plan to govern the UM system in the midst of a prolonged budget crunch is short on specifics. But he said the document, titled "Achieving the Vision in Hard Times," posits questions educators must first "understand clearly and agree upon" before establishing answers.

The document is "not really a plan, a blueprint setting forth immediate actions" to solve the system's problems, he wrote in its preface. The regents asked the chancellor in August to recommend cost-cutting measures and strategies to move around resources to preserve quality.

Among other things, the statement, which Dr. Langenberg read to the regents, calls for:

* Adding improvement of undergraduate education to the priorities set forth in the state's higher education reform act. The act now calls for enhancing the flagship campus at College Park, graduate research in Baltimore and historically black institutions. This change would require legislative action.

* Making enhancing Maryland's budget for higher education a permanent goal. This is a lobbying job for the regents.

* Increased productivity, including rewards for superior performance and the adoption of quality control measures now popular in American businesses. The regents could consider contracting for some services in the private sector and making some non-academic services, such as health care, athletics and fund-raising self-supporting "or more nearly so," the chancellor said.

Dr. Langenberg also called for reducing campus administrative costs to a level below the average for comparable institutions.

The university system was hard hit by the state's budget crisis, which came just as it was promised a massive dose of state funds to make up for years of neglect.

The university system budget is now about 20 percent below where it was 18 months ago. As a result, many campuses have laid off or furloughed employees, cut academic programs and reduced the number of courses. For instance, the University of Maryland College Park said it was short 8,000 seats this semester compared with last year. Also, the regents have passed tuition increases of up to 17 percent.

In his statement, Dr. Langenberg said "maintaining a relatively low state budget priority for public higher education, and maintaining moderate student tuition and fees are mutually incompatible objectives."

He said the state should choose between the example of North Carolina, which provides a high level of state support and maintains low tuition, and Pennsylvania, whose public universities receive relatively low state support and charge higher tuition.

He also advocated "privatizing" University College, the evening school program at College Park. The public college receives no state funds and operates on student fees and military contracts, with the result that its tuition is higher than some private colleges.

At the same time, the state is continuing to provide aid to private colleges in Maryland under a formula pegged to state support for public universities. Roughly, a private college gets 16 cents for every dollar that goes to public universities in the previous year.

Aside from University College and the already approved merger between UM's professional schools in downtown Baltimore and its undergraduate liberal arts campus in Catonsville, the chancellor said he saw no reason to merge or close other campuses.

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