UM faculty protest planned cuts to Senate panel Savings inflated, protesters insist STATE HOUSE REPORT

January 20, 1993|By John W. Frece | John W. Frece,Staff Writer

Frustrated faculty from four University of Maryland schools paraded before a Senate committee yesterday to trash a Board of Regents' plan to eliminate or restructure nearly 100 academic programs at campuses across the state.

They claimed estimated savings from the plan -- designed to yield $25 million that would be "reinvested" in other programs in the 11-campus University of Maryland System -- were inflated, and that potential costs created by the plan were never calculated.

Moreover, they complained that courses appeared to have been chosen for the hit list to meet some arbitrary budget goal, but without consideration of their quality or their importance to students.

Faculty members said they were appealing to legislators because no one within the university system would listen to their concerns or complaints.

"We're so extremely frustrated because we haven't had the opportunity to address the chancellor or the Board of Regents," said Jerry Miller of the Philosophy Department at Salisbury State University. "Our advice has never been solicited. And when we've given it, it hasn't been listened to."

University of Maryland Chancellor Donald N. Langenberg countered that if faculty members were not consulted, they should complain to their campus presidents, who he said were asked to give his office feedback on the plan.

The cutbacks criticized yesterday included those eliminating the theater program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, the physics and chemistry majors at Towson State and a medical technology program at Salisbury State, which trains many of the hospital and other laboratory technicians who work on the Eastern Shore.

In a testy exchange with several professors after yesterday's hearing before a Budget and Taxation subcommittee, Dr. Langenberg reminded them that each school has until March 1 to appeal any part of the plan they do not like.

"I stayed behind to have a two-way exchange of views," said the chancellor, who was sharply criticized at the hearing for failing to do that before.

"I hope it will help them, and it will help me in understanding what their point of view is. I expect my colleagues and I will spend a great deal of our time communicating, listening and talking."

The regents' plan, unveiled in December, is entitled "Achieving the Vision [for higher education] in Hard Times," and Dr. Langenberg said it was an attempt to streamline the university system for the lean economic realities of the 1990s.

But Dr. William Rothstein of UMBC's Sociology Department was typical of yesterday's faculty testimony when he said: "There was no intelligent planning. This isn't a 'vision.' It's a hodgepodge of miscellaneous cuts."

Because the university operates almost autonomously, subcommittee Chairwoman Barbara A. Hoffman, a Baltimore Democrat, warned the complaining faculty members early on that while legislators may be sympathetic, there was little they could or would do.

After the hearing, however, she said if university officials and individual campuses agree to work together to iron out their differences, the legislature would not object if the March 1 deadline was extended.

"If some of the presidents did not fully involve their faculty, then they've got to answer to their faculty for that," she said.

"And, if they are going to persist with some of these actions, they do need to cost them out. If they need more time, I would hope they would take it."

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