Page 211 - American_Higher_Education_V4

Basic HTML Version

211
faculty council. “At my institution, inmy department, there’s
nobody who makes the average salary at the institutions we
consider our peers,” like the State University of New York at
Binghamton.
In an effort to move students toward earlier degree
completion, the systemnow requires them to earn at least 12
credits outside the traditional classroom—through online
courses, study abroad programs, internships or Advanced
Placement credits. Because capacity on some UM campuses
is limited, first-time freshmen sometimes enroll in the spring
instead of the fall. They are encouraged to earn at least 12
credits before arriving on campus, either through USM’s
largely online University College or at a Maryland community
college.
The Maryland system expects an enrollment increase of 20
percent by the end of this decade, hence the urgency to save
money, increase faculty productivity and encourage students
to graduate sooner. Not only is Maryland experiencing the
“baby boom echo,” but more students are preparing themselves
for postsecondary
education, Kirwan
said in an interview.
Towson University
and Salisbury
State, across the
Chesapeake Bay on
Maryland’s Eastern
Shore, will absorb
much of the new
growth. Towson,
with a current enrollment of 17,867, is expected to add another
3,000 by 2010, and 4,300 more by 2015.
For the first time ever, Governor Ehrlich includedmoney
in this year’s budget for enrollment growth, allowing the
system to accept almost 3,400 additional students. “We had
said that we would take 700 students over the next three
years without any additional money, but beyond that the state
would have to provide more support,” Kirwan said. “I cannot
overstate the importance of that ‘but.’ Maryland has never
funded enrollment growth. As a result, there was no incentive
for campuses to grow.” USMmade this a centerpiece of its
budget request this year, and the governor and the General
Assembly agreed. Going forward, Maryland will recognize
and fund enrollment growth, the chancellor said, although he
added, “It’s not written into law.”
“We are very conscious of the fact that we have a surge of
students coming and we need to prepare for them,” said Regent
Cliff Kendall. Re-examining the budget “gave everybody a
chance to think differently” about how the systemwas going
to do that.
As president of UM-College Park from 1988 to 1998,
Kirwan was opposed to creating the system, fearing too
much centralization. But he lost that argument, and the new
systemwas knit together from four University of Maryland
institutions (College Park, UM-Baltimore, the University of
Baltimore and UM-Baltimore County) and six former state
colleges (Frostburg State, Salisbury State, Towson State and
three historically black schools—Bowie State, Coppin State
and UM-Eastern Shore). There are also two research centers,
two education centers and University College, which offers
distance education courses largely, but not entirely, online.
Over time, major changes were made, and now “it’s a
different system, one of the most decentralized systems in
the states,” Kirwan said. “There is an appropriate degree of
autonomy vested in the presidents. I don’t think there is a
perfect way to organize higher education. If there were, we
would have all done that.”
Kirwan feels strongly about the urgency of increasing
student financial aid, and he has been backed by the regents
and the governor. American universities have been shifting to
financial aid basedmore onmerit than on need, the chancellor
said, as they sought to improve the quality of their students.
That was in part to look better in the influential
U.S. News &
World Report
ratings, which Kirwan thinks “quite frankly, have
done enormous harm to higher education.” In the early ’90s,
Kirwan added, “90 percent of our aid had a need component.
Now that’s only about 60 percent.”
In June 2004, Kirwan appointed a financial aid task force
of legislators and business people, with Nancy Kopp, the
state treasurer, as chair. “The guiding principle was providing
affordable access to higher education for all qualified students
and securing ample state support to enable us to achieve that
end,” the chancellor said. The task force urged that more of the
money raised through tuition increases be directed toward
decreasing undergraduate student loan debt and to helping
those students with the greatest need.
The students worst off economically are graduating with
25 percent more debt
than other students,
Kirwan said. “That’s not
the way it’s supposed
to work. It’s a powerful
disincentive for going
to college if you’re going
to come out with all
this debt. We have to
step back and look at
what’s good for society.
It is that we provide
access to students
of economically
disadvantaged
backgrounds because
higher education has
become the primary
means to move up the
economic ladder and
enjoy a better life.”
USMhas set as
a goal that by 2009,
the lowest-income
students must graduate
with 25 percent less
debt. Toward that end,
Governor Ehrlich has
doubled need-based
aid since taking office,
this year putting $87
Governor Ehrlich has
doubled need-based
aid since taking office,
this year putting $87
million into that pot.
Susan Woda, a former student member of the Board of
Regents, says the university system now receives more
state money because its “effectiveness and efficiency”
campaign has won support from Governor Robert Ehrlich Jr.