Letter to the USMH Community Regarding the Budget Cuts
A Message to the USMH Community
Please allow me to share with you our recent budget situation, including where we are today. The University System of Maryland (USM) was told in December 2014 to expect a mid-year budget cut totaling approximately $8.5 million. So all institutions, including the regional higher ed centers, knew an imminent budget cut would be necessary at their respective institutions. However, on January 7th, the Board of Public Works (chaired by now former governor O’Malley) approved an actual cut to the overall USM budget of $40 million from its Fiscal Year 2015 (July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015) appropriation – a five-fold increase over what was expected!
On Friday, January 16th, the USM Board of Regents voted to permit USM institutions to raise tuition rates by 2%, and gave College Park additional approval to impose a one-time surcharge. This represents the first midyear tuition increase for USM institutions in 12 years. Thus far, four of the 12 USM institutions have taken advantage of this permission: College Park, Towson, Frostburg State and Salisbury. This list represents four of USMH’s six partner universities, and well more than 90% of USMH’s enrollment.
USMH’s budget was cut proportional to the total cut to the USM headquarters’ budget, to which it reports. Our partner institutions receive all tuition from students enrolled in their programs at USMH. USMH does not receive tuition or any funding from tuition. Simply put, our funding is an appropriation from the state and we have no ability to increase any revenues to counter the cut. We have taken, and will continue to undertake, budget tightening, while not intending to reduce any services to our students.
Finally, I’m sure that you have noticed our new video wall. Beginning in early February, we will begin broadcasting General Assembly hearings and other events relevant to higher education and to the local region, along with relevant C-SPAN broadcasts, as a means of helping our student community stay abreast of policy debates in our state. The video wall was purchased in early Fall and long before any thought of a midyear budget cut. It was paid for with funds that are reserved for capital expenses and cannot be used for ongoing operations. We would not have been able to use these funds to offset any of the budget cuts.
USMH is celebrating our 10th Anniversary during 2015. You are part of that celebration, and I thank you for undertaking your educational pursuits at USMH, and for your enthusiasm. Please spread the word about the good things happening here, and look for several announcements about our growth later in the Spring semester.
All the best,
Mark C. Halsey