Budget options presented to UM board

January 29, 1992|By Patricia Meisol ZBB

The chancellor of the University of Maryland said yesterday he had no short-term solutions to preserve quality in a university system beset by budget cuts.

In a long-awaited document commissioned by the regents to deal with the budget crunch, Chancellor Donald N. Langenberg suggested that the solutions may lie in better management, more narrowly defined campus missions and substantially higher tuition for students.

He made these proposals in a set of questions for the university's governing board. The questions were:

* Whether to raise tuition.

* Whether to parcel out some services to private companies and require others, such as health care for students, to be self-supporting.

* Whether to allow University College, the continuing education campus, to become independent, possibly making it eligible for state funds as private Maryland colleges are now.

The chancellor also asked the university's governing board to require campuses to find revenue from other non-state sources besides tuition -- including entrepreneurial activity by faculty; research and development funds; and philanthropic support.

A periodic report on the financial health of the university showed many of its campuses' current revenues lower than expected because of drops in research funds, enrollment, and interest earnings, as well as state aid. On the positive side, the chancellor said private giving continued to increase.

Ann Hull, who chairs the finance committee of the governing board, said the report raised important points, "most of which suggested the regents ought to do something."

The document will have no impact on the immediate budget crisis facing the university system, which has triggered the departure of some top faculty, particularly from the College Park campus, and protests from students over class shortages and raised tuition. Some campuses, including College Park, are cutting academic programs and scrimping on such fundamentals as English to balance their books.

The chancellor's document stayed away from more radical measures such as closing campuses, wider structural changes within the university system, or closing the university's central 00 administration offices in Adelphi in favor of possibly cheaper oversight from Annapolis.

"Most of you will find nothing dramatic or shocking about it. It proposes no simple quick fixes for our problems, for I believe none exists," the chancellor said in his report.

Dr. Langenberg said the regents should lead a public debate about tuition pricing and develop a broadly accepted policy. He said the state should choose between a heavily state-aided public university system with low tuition and a system with little state aid and high tuition.

"Tuition is a topic for serious public debate," he said.

Scott Palmer, a College Park senior and head of an advisory group of students from all public campuses, said students were willing to pay more "but only if they get more."

The chancellor said regents could act on his report at its Feb. 28 meeting.

Yesterday, the chancellor also presented the recommendations of a $900,000 personnel management study by William M. Mercer Inc. It calls for a system of merit pay and a $5.8 million program to bring salaries of employees whose job titles would be changed to the minimum range for their jobs. The study found that average university salaries are competitive, but that some jobs need to be reclassified at higher pay grades. A written report on the study was not made public yesterday.

Sally Davies, president of the College Park chapter of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, representing employees on five campuses, said merit pay would lead to immediate workplace discrimination because some departments have money for merit pay and others don't.

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