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A clarion call to action

Dear University of Maryland community,

The American public research university is a monument to American civilization. It leads the world in excellence in education, research, and innovation, and in affordable access.

However, over the last 20 years, and especially since the Great Recession, there has been a gradual but steady public disinvestment in the public research university. The trend is national, structural, and—to date—inexorable. UMD has fared better than most of its peers in terms of state support, but we not immune from the larger economic, societal, and political pressures.

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) has produced a 3-minute animated video that explains—simply and lucidly——the reasons and the impacts of the decline in state investment:

AAAS has also published recently five brochures that expand on the subject of the video. They are short, clear, bereft of cant and eye-glazing facts and figures. These brochures are intended to inform the general public and policymakers about the importance of public research universities and the financial challenges they face today:

  1. "Serving the public good."
  2. "Why they matter."
  3. "Changes in state funding."
  4. "Understanding the financial model."
  5. "An educational compact for the 21st century."

The fifth brochure is a clarion call to action. It sets forth what public research universities, state and federal government, and the private sector—all working together—should do to preserve and strengthen the public research university in this century. At stake are the core values of excellence and access in public higher education that are essential for the good of our nation and to the benefit of our students and our state.

Many of the recommended action steps are already included in UMD's "Strategic Plan Update, 2016-22: Equal to the Best," recently approved by the University Senate.

These brochures can be found at the AAAS website:

I hope you find the AAAS video and brochures informative, and share them broadly.


Wallace D. Loh