UM officials dispute where to make cuts Research centers, colleges at odds

October 04, 1992|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,Staff Writer

University of Maryland officials are challenging Gov. Willia Donald Schaefer over budget cuts, a process that has ended up pitting research institutions against colleges, with millions of dollars at stake.

Mr. Schaefer last week proposed $19.1 million in systemwide cuts that would have left teaching institutions, such as Towson State University and the University of Maryland Baltimore County, with smaller than average reductions.

The governor, though, proposed large cuts -- as high as 15 percent -- on institutions such as the Center for Environmental and Estuarine Studies, which do research but little actual instruction.

The Board of Regents has countered with plans that spread the pain more evenly among the 14 universities and research institutions they oversee.

But some schools make out worse than others under the regents' plan. Towson State, for example, would take a $2.7 million cut under the regents' plan, compared to $1.2 million proposed by the governor. UMBC stands to lose $1.8 million under the regents' proposal, compared to $912,000 under the governor's.

The winner under the regents' plan would be the Maryland Biotechnology Institute, which the board slates for no cut. The governor had proposed a $1.1 million, or 15 percent, reduction in the institute's budget.

"Towson State is apoplectic with anger about the chancellor," said one Towson professor, referring to Chancellor Donald N. Langenberg, the head of the University of Maryland system and the man who guides the regents on budget decisions.

The cuts are expected to cause more than 250 layoffs, furloughs and increases in tuition around the UM system.

The confrontation began when Mr. Schaefer planned the latest round of cuts, the eighth time he has trimmed the state budget in three years. In each of the last seven rounds, the governor gave a lump sum to the regents to allocate themselves.

This time, Mr. Schaefer's staff made it clear he was not happy with the board's cutting style. The regents, according to Schaefer administration officials, had ignored the stated priorities of Maryland higher education, which include beefing up College Park, improving the historically black schools and improving some offerings in the Baltimore area.

"The governor is unhappy that the overall priorities established are not intact," said Shaila R. Aery, secretary of higher education. "The priorities aren't evident."

Dr. Langenberg said the board would listen to advice from "a number of quarters" but said that regents believe that, under state law, "internal allocations within the system are their responsibility."

The latest round of cuts allows each of UM's institutions to remain open and will not cut into instructional offerings, according to guidelines prepared by Dr. Langenberg.

The regents' most recent budget-cutting proposal includes wildly varying cuts for the institutions they control, in response to Mr. Schaefer's objections.

The regents have agreed to reduce the cuts to three historically black schools -- Coppin State College, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Bowie State University. Likewise, College Park, designated by state law to receive special attention as the flagship campus, would be treated roughly the same by both the regents and the governor.

But, Towson State, UMBC, Salisbury State and the University of Baltimore would take larger than average cuts.

The mix of cuts doesn't please one powerful legislator, Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, D-Baltimore, who objects to any plan that hurts teaching schools more than research institutions.

"A university system has as its primary goal, in my mind, undergraduate education," said Senator Hoffman, chairman of a budget subcommittee that oversees higher education. "If you don't do the undergraduate part right, you don't have a university."

The cuts to the UM system are part of $450 million in spending reductions proposed by Mr. Schaefer to head off a projected budget deficit when the fiscal year ends next July 1.

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