Education Cuts at the University of Maryland

Education cuts by both outgoing Gov. Martin O’Malley and new Gov. Larry Hogan are hitting the University of Maryland. Most of the following information is cribbed from President Wallace Loh’s letter from last month.

State Funding Cuts

Gov. O’Malley made a one-time cut of $15.6 million before leaving office in order to address budget shortfalls. While Gov. Hogan’s budget includes a 1.3% increase for UMD, he has made O’Malley’s one-time cut permanent. Moreover, he further rescinded COLAs of 2% and merit raises of 2.5%

Impact at the University of Maryland

Tuition Hike:
After four years of no increases, UMD made an unusual mid-year tuition hike of 2%. The new tuition levels will be maintained in the upcoming year.

Faculty and Staff Salaries
Taking away the COLA means that faculty and staff will see their remuneration decline in real terms. Moreover, this is now the fourth consecutive year with no merit increases, so faculty have seen no real increases over that period.

will take another bite out of the salaries of faculty and staff who earn more than $60,000 per year:

State-funded employees who earn less than $60K—about 40% of our workforce—will have no furloughs; those who earn $60K+ to $100K will have 1 furlough day; $100K+ to $180K will have 2 furlough days; and those that earn $180K+ will have 3 furlough days.
Eliminate vacant positions
Instead of filling current vacancies, including teaching and research faculty, positions will no longer exist.

Overall Impact

The State of Maryland has made enormous investments in the University of Maryland over the past several decades. Universities, highly labor intensive by nature, cannot attract the best faculty or build new modern facilities without it.

These efforts have paid off–the quality of the students and the faculty at UMD has steadily risen. UMD’s admission to the Big Ten was a sign not just of athletic prowess of but of the university’s desire to take its place among its academic peers.

Gov. O’Malley kept tuition down, which has only increased the attractiveness of the university and helped keep many of the most talented Marylanders in state. It also acknowledged the reality of the barrier of the cost of education for many families.

Tuition increases were bound to begin again at some point, though they are now rising from a lower start point than would have otherwise occurred. And, as already mentioned, universities need money with tuition being a major source. The real impact of these increases will depend on their rate relative to inflation.

However, as UMD is demonstrating, tuition increases alone are unlikely to makeup for cuts of these levels. President Loh expressed concern, rightly, about retaining and attracting top-notch faculty who can go to other high-level research institutions.

In short, we have to be very careful not to allow to crumble what the State and UMD have built painstakingly over many years. Beyond being a waste of past investment, we should leverage UMD more economically as North Carolina has done with UNC. Indeed, the goal should be not just to maintain UMD but to continue its upward trajectory. As a high-income state, educational advantage will be critical to continuing to advance economically.

Next Up: Why Such Big Cuts Now?

Note: Just a reminder that I am a professor of political science at American University in Washington, D.C.