UM regents agree on $9.4 million cuts Pressure saves academic programs

April 09, 1993|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,Staff Writer

Moving to streamline the University of Maryland system, the Board of Regents yesterday cut an estimated $9.4 million in programs but bowed to pressure and spared academic offerings on several campuses.

Among those saved were physics and chemistry majors at Towson State University, theater and social work at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and computer science at Coppin State College,

Chancellor Donald N. Langenberg initiated the restructuring last fall, saying the system, which has absorbed a $123 million loss in state funding since 1990, needed an overhaul.

The regents tentatively approved the elimination or revamping of roughly 60 programs yesterday. They are expected to give final approval May 7, about the time campus presidents are to give them timetables and implementation plans.

Campuses where programs were spared must also come up with equivalent savings in cuts elsewhere. UMBC, for example, still has to find $255,000 to meet its quota.

The changes apply to all but one of the system's 11 campuses. Only University College -- a continuing education school that receives no state aid -- was unaffected.

Among the casualties were the master's program in African-American studies at UMBC, early childhood education at Coppin State, history at University of Maryland Eastern Shore and art and music education at Frostburg State.

The cuts represent only a fraction of the system's overall budget of $1.5 billion.

"The numbers are not huge, multimillions, but it's a beginning," said regents Chairman George V. McGowan, adding that further academic cuts would be considered in the future.

Money saved will be spent on programs that are viewed as priorities on each campus.

It was not clear how many layoffs, if any, the cuts would bring.

The regents made their initial proposal for cuts in December, sparking an outpouring of anger and criticism. The board mainly targeted programs that had produced few graduates or were deemed superfluous to a campus' main mission.

After intense lobbying, the regents reversed themselves and saved several majors that, despite their relatively low graduation rates, have strong reputations.

Freeman A. Hrabowski 3rd, acting president of UMBC, said the regents, for example, recognized the value of UMBC's theater offerings although that department's budget will be trimmed by $100,000.

"I'm pleased we were able to keep the undergraduate programs for our students," Dr. Hrabowski said.

Towson's physics and chemistry majors were spared, the regents said, because they are a basic part of the undergraduate offerings at a comprehensive campus.

To save such programs, Towson officials proposed $510,000 in alternative spending cuts, all of which were accepted by the regents. For example, Towson will voluntarily phase out a small part of its teacher education major through faculty attrition, eventually freeing $315,000 in annual salaries.

Some of the anticipated savings might not materialize. The regents, for example, voted to eliminate the graduate program in ethnomusicology at UMBC, saving an estimated $235,000 a year. At the same time, the regents directed officials from UMBC to find a way to affiliate the program with a similar department at the University of Maryland College Park.

In other cases, the savings appear to be overstated. Towson officials say that eliminating Towson's master's degree in foreign languages will save only $8,848. The regents estimate the savings at $29,000.

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