Regents' proposal to cut costs would end UM programs Mergers expected to save about $25 million

December 12, 1992|By Melody Simmons and Thomas W. Waldron | Melody Simmons and Thomas W. Waldron,Staff Writers

COLLEGE PARK — A chart in Dec. 12 editions of The Sun suggested that all graduate programs in management and accounting at the University of Baltimore would be eliminated by the University of Maryland Board of Regents. In fact, only the post-baccalaureate certificate programs in those fields will be discontinued.

The Sun regrets the errors.

COLLEGE PARK -- The University of Maryland Board of Regents yesterday unveiled a landmark cost-cutting proposal that would eliminate or restructure nearly 100 academic programs at campuses across the state, ranging from computer sciences to nursing and philosophy.

The 31-page proposal would generate the layoffs of an undetermined number of faculty and staff, and it immediately sparked protests.

The plan in effect is an attempt to downsize the University of Maryland system by eliminating or consolidating lesser-priority programs at its 10 main campuses, beginning next fall. The goal, officials said, is to free money so that essential programs can flourish.


The proposed cuts and mergers, as well as savings envisioned through administrative efficiencies, would free an estimated $25 million from the system's annual operating budget of roughly $1.5 billion.

The plan was drafted by Chancellor Donald N. Langenberg and a six-member special regents committee after suggestions were sought from the campus presidents.

Dr. Langenberg initiated the restructuring effort earlier this fall, saying the system -- which has absorbed a $123 million loss in state funding since 1990 -- had to be streamlined.

Dr. Langenberg said yesterday that the money saved through the plan would be used for established priorities, including building the flagship College Park campus to national eminence, enhancing the historically black institutions and improving salaries.

But faculty members yesterday objected to the fast pace of the controversial plan -- which is expected to be approved by the 17-member board at a special meeting at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

"This is bound to be viewed by many as an attack on tenure," said Arthur Johnson, a UMBC professor and representative of the system's Faculty Council, referring to the likely layoffs of tenured staff.

"We are not questioning the need for change, but we want to share it with you," he continued. "You can expect sharper and more focused questions as to why. There are also questions of timing. Why was this presented at the end of the semester? Why with so much speed?"

Robert W. Lissitz, chairman of the Campus Senate at College Park, asked the regents to delay next week's vote, while Towson State University President Hoke L. Smith left yesterday's meeting to attend a gathering of his faculty and explain the proposal.

Among the majors and academic programs designated to be eliminated are:

* The undergraduate major in computer science at Coppin State College.

* The undergraduate theater major, accounting program and chemical physics program at UMBC.

* The music and art education and journalism programs at Bowie State University.

* The master's program in criminal justice and the applied statistics programs at University of Baltimore.

Campuses could appeal the elimination of programs through Feb. 15, 1993, the report said.

On March 1, 1993, each campus president would be expected to submit a report to Dr. Langenberg that detailed a timetable for phasing out the programs.

Over the past three years, the regents have used layoffs, furloughs and tuition increases to cope with the repeated cuts to higher education forced by the state's budget crisis.

Students on average are paying tuition bills that are 11 percent higher this fall than last year, and an additional tuition hike of 6 percent to 12 percent was approved by the regents in October.It takes effect nextmonth.

Most programs targeted in the restructuring plan were identified in a study last spring that looked at utilization by students.

The study found that only one person in the past three years has majored in French at Salisbury State, and only two majored in Spanish. Both majors would be eliminated under the proposal.

Similarly, Bowie State University has awarded only three degrees in speech and linguistics in the past five years. That major, too, would be eliminated.

Some regents and Dr. Langenberg predicted that more academic cuts and mergers would be made after further study by the board.

"I don't think that the plan goes far enough," said Regent Albert N. Whiting.

"This won't be the last redeployment," said Regent Richard O. Berndt. "The simplest thing is to do nothing, to wait and see if state revenues return," he said. "But this $123 million [already cut] is not coming back."

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