UM regents approve plan for major restructuring 100 programs cut or scaled back

December 17, 1992|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,Staff Writer

In an unprecedented restructuring, the University of Maryland Board of Regents last night approved a plan to eliminate or scale back some 100 academic programs at 10 campuses statewide.

Moving quickly and with little public discussion, the regents voted unanimously to approve the plan just five days after it was unveiled.

The vote came during a sometimes raucous meeting at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Hundreds of students and faculty members from around the state crammed the meeting room, holding signs and chanting opposition to the plan.

Many more rallied outside.

The regents hope to use money saved through the restructuring on higher-priority programs.

Programs targeted for elimination or downsizing have generally attracted few students or produced few graduates. In other cases, the regents determined that there were too many campuses offering similar programs.

"This board takes no great joy in proposing these actions," said George V. McGowan, its chairman. "We don't have much choice. We can continue to plug along as we are, mired in mediocrity. We don't think any of us wants that."

Among the majors being eliminated are such academic staples as French and Spanish at Salisbury State University and physics and chemistry at Towson State University.

In all, the regents hope to free up some $25 million through the changes, which include cutbacks in administration as well as in the classroom.

The proposal has shocked and scared many students and teachers. Some faculty members will lose their jobs, although officials say they have not calculated how many.

"This has demoralized the entire student body and faculty," Salisbury State University physics professor Andrew Pica told system Chancellor Donald N. Langenberg in a heated exchange before the meeting. "That is no way to go into the future."

Carol Hess-Vait, president of the Faculty Senate at UMBC, called the proposed eliminations "staggering."

"They cut deeply into the fiber of our campus," she said, prompting loud applause from the crowd.

Institutions can appeal to the regents for a reprieve for their programs, and the appeals will be considered early next year. It is a matter of speculation how vigorously such appeals will be pressed by campus presidents, who serve at the pleasure of the regents, though students and faculty will be allowed to present evidence as well.

The system will begin implementing the changes next fall. Institutions have been told to stop admitting new students to programs being eliminated after the fall semester next year.

Yesterday's action was easily the regents' most dramatic action in the four-year history of the UM system. It was prompted by the loss of some 20 percent of the system's funding from the state over the last three years.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer last night applauded the board for its action.

"The University of Maryland System is doing what it has to do," Governor Schaefer said.

Several regents have predicted that they will impose further cuts in the future.

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