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209
By KayMills
Adelphi, Maryland
T
hree years into an “Effectiveness and Efficiency”
campaign, the University System of Maryland has
achieved some successes:
• Costs have been cut by $40 million.
• Faculty workload has been increased by ten percent.
• Need-based student financial aid has risen substantially.
• Steps have been taken to shorten the time it takes a
student to earn a bachelor’s degree.
Cliff Kendall, who chaired the Board of Regents when
the “E and E” initiative was launched in June 2003, said that,
faced with lean budget years and rising enrollments, the board
decided to act. “We could sit and do nothing or we could take
action,” he said. “We elected to do something.”
The system’s efforts have won support fromRepublican
Governor Robert Ehrlich Jr., and from the Maryland General
Assembly. After taking budget cuts of 7.4 percent and 6.8
percent earlier in this decade and boosting the system’s average
tuition by almost 40 percent over the last four fiscal years, the
university system (ten campuses, two research centers and a
largely online college) received a 5.9 percent budget increase
last year and a 14.4 percent hike (including a cost-of-living
adjustment of almost two percent) this year.
Even so, the Board of Regents approved a 4.5 percent
tuition increase for this fall, but Democratic legislators
introduced a measure to eliminate the increase, and the state
Senate passed it. Soon thereafter, Ehrlich, who had previously
labeled the legislation an “election-year gimmick,” included
an additional $17.2 million in a supplemental budget, thereby
freezing tuition at
current levels for full-
time, in-state students.
Other factors helped
to account for the swing
in USM’s financial
fortunes—the state
has a budget surplus of
more than $1 billion
this year, and Governor
Ehrlich is running for
re-election. But the university system’s efforts to become more
efficient andmore effective turned the governor “180 degrees.
He saw how serious this effort was,” ChancellorWilliam
E. “Brit” Kirwan told a group at the American Council on
Education’s annual meeting in Los Angeles in February. “The
governor and the General Assembly are at war in our state. But
one thing they agree on is higher education. So we’re in this
sweet spot. How long we can stay there, I don’t know.”
Ehrlich wanted quality and efficiency inMaryland higher
education, in the midst of what his chief of staff, James C.
Spring 2006
“Effectiveness and Efficiency”
The University System of Maryland’s campaign to control costs and increase student aid
DiPaula, called a “near crisis situation” when he took office.
The state was facing a potential $2 billion deficit when Ehrlich
became governor in 2003. “The regents took that challenge
and ran with it,” DiPaula said.
InMaryland, the governor determines the budget, and the
legislature can only decrease, not increase, his proposals unless
it finds a source of revenue to pay for budget additions, said
Joseph Vivona, USM’s chief operating officer. “You succeed in
this state by having good relationships with the governor and
the legislature. You don’t win by criticizing the governor.”
SusanWoda, a former student member of the Board
of Regents who is writing her doctoral dissertation on
the creation of the system, said, “A lot of people in higher
education want to paint Ehrlich as the devil, but he has done
what every governor has done in similar circumstances. When
he ran, he said he had been left with some tough decisions. He
said, ‘If you won’t do it, I’m going to cut you.’ Kirwan knew that
it was important to see where Ehrlich was coming from and
then give himwhat he wants.”
Kirwan and the regents streamlined some administrative
procedures to provide more money for academic priorities.
For example, the system leveraged its buying power by
purchasing electricity as a group, not campus-by-campus,
with savings estimated at ten to 15 percent, or $5 million
over the three-year life of the contract. Another $5 million
will be saved over five years through a new agreement with
Microsoft. Kirwan and the regents also required each campus
in the system to identify one percent in additional savings that
Regent Cliff Kendall says rising enrollments and declining state support led the
University System of Maryland to change its budgeting approach.
Maryland was facing
a potential $2 billion
deficit when Robert
Ehrlich Jr. became
governor in 2003.
Photos by Dennis Brack, Black Star, for CrossTalk