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Highlights of the 2016 Maryland General Assembly

Dear University of Maryland College Park Campus community,

The 2016 Maryland General Assembly adjourned last night after approving measures that greatly benefit our campus—students, faculty, and staff—and Maryland higher education generally.

The State operating budget includes:

  • Funding to limit the tuition increase for in-state undergraduate students to 2% next year.
  • Merit-based salary increase pool for faculty and staff averaging 2.5%. (The state economy has improved since the Great Recession, when there were several years of no salary increases.)
  • Funding of the State's share of the increased costs for health and pension benefits. (In some recent years, the State funded only part of these mandatory cost increases, so we had to make budget reallocations to make up the difference.)

The separate State capital budget covered all of our requests. Significant private donations leveraged the State funding for new teaching, research, and innovation facilities to sustain our academic excellence: St. John Learning and Teaching Center; Clark Hall (Engineering) which includes the Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices; Iribe Computer Science and Innovation Center; and Cole Field House renovation.

A new law authorizes the State Retirement and Pension System to invest—consistent with its fiduciary duties—a modest amount of its funds in venture capital in the State, with 50% of such investment in the commercialization of technology of a university in the State.

The "University of Maryland Strategic Partnership Act of 2016" (http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2016RS/bills/sb/sb1052E.pdf) defines the "University of Maryland" as "a strategic partnership between two distinct campuses within the University System": "The University of Maryland, College Park Campus" and "The University of Maryland, Baltimore Campus."

This new legislation formalizes and strengthens the alliance between the two institutions—known as "MPowering the State"—that was begun four years ago and has exceeded expectations in collaborative education, research, and innovation across different but complementary disciplines.

This law directs the presidents of both campus to build upon Mpower to advance (1) "academic programs and experiences for students," (2) "research and technology commercialization for economic development," and (3) "public service and commitment to community development."

It establishes and provides funding for the "University of Maryland Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Development," located on the College Park Campus, to advance education and research in neuroscience, virtual and augmented reality, biomedical devices, data analytics, and cybersecurity.

It also establishes and provides funding for the "University of Maryland Center for Advanced Ventures," located on the Baltimore Campus, to promote tech commercialization.

Thus, the Strategic Partnership law raises the research and innovation profile of both campuses that attract, in the aggregate, $1 billion annually in grants and contracts.

I thank Governor Larry Hogan and the General Assembly and for their strong support of public higher education in the State of Maryland, including for the University of Maryland.

I express my appreciation to the USM Board of Regents and to Chancellor Robert Caret for their leadership and support.

My thanks, also, to many colleagues—faculty, staff, student government leaders, UMCP Foundation trustees, and our state legislative director, Ross Stern—for telling so ably in Annapolis the story about our institution's needs and contributions to the State.

And, thanks to all of you for your dedication and efforts that propel the University of Maryland, College Park Campus, to become "equal to the best" public research universities in the nation, as the General Assembly intended in designating us the flagship institution.

Sincerely,

Wallace D. Loh
President