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UMD-UMB Merger Study

Dear members of the University of Maryland community:

I am writing to update you on the request by the Maryland General Assembly in April 2011 to the University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents (BOR) for a study on "merging" the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) and the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB).

Request of the General Assembly for Study

The state operating and capital budgets report of the General Assembly asked the BOR to "study the advantages and disadvantages of merging UMCP and UMB under a single university and make a determination if such a merger is beneficial to the institutions involved and the USM as a whole."

The General Assembly's explanation of its request is that "The two institutions are complementary and have few if any duplicative programs. Combining the two institutions into one world-class research and medical institution could encourage and facilitate seamless cross-disciplinary cooperation, research, and interaction by removing those barriers that typically exist between institutions."

The due date for the BOR's report is December 15, 2011.

USM Merger Study Plan

USM has designed an excellent study plan that will proceed in two phases. In Phase I (August and September), four USM Task Groups—composed of an even number of UMCP and UMB representatives in each group -- will study the impact of merger on:

(1) Education, research, and national reputation: Capacity of a single (merged) university to enhance academic offerings, expand access to underserved populations, facilitate cross-disciplinary collaborations and external funding, and raise national rankings.

(2) Financial costs and benefits for both institutions, USM as a whole, and the state.

(3) Technology transfer and research commercialization: Capacity of a single university to better promote the state's economic development.

(4) External constituencies: Capacity of a single university to improve the quality of life of surrounding communities, and to increase appeal to alumni, donors, and businesses.

In Phase II, a fifth Task Group will look at the impact of a single university on USM as a whole and on other USM institutions.

UMCP and UMB have each appointed a total of 12 representatives to be distributed among the first four groups. The fifth group will be comprised of senior officers of USM, UMCP, UMB, and other USM institutions.

The expected outcomes of each of the five groups are a summary statement of their consensus and a "white paper" that describes their group's work.

A 3-member Leadership Group comprised of the Chancellor and the presidents of UMCP and UMB will meet regularly to "help ensure an integrated, coherent, and consensus-based merger study." It will also assess whether there are "alternatives to merger or maintaining the status quo."
The work of these groups will be presented to the BOR, which may choose to seek additional information and perspectives to prepare its report to the General Assembly.

UMCP Engagement in the Study

The 12 campus representatives on the first four USM Task Groups were drawn from among the faculty, leadership of the University Senate and student government, vice presidents, deans, and staff.

To broaden campus involvement in this study process, I appointed an additional 17 persons, drawn from these same constituencies, to form parallel UMCP Task Groups. They will meet regularly with our representatives on the USM Task Groups.

More information on this study can be found at www.usmd.edu/regents/UMCP-UMBMergerStudy/. You may offer your input at this website.

I would like the study be as participatory, open, and as transparent as possible to our campus community. To this end, there will be at least one open forum on campus in the fall.

The Study: An Opportunity for Strategic Visioning

I support this study. I look forward to working with our campus community, the Chancellor, the Regents, UMB, and other USM institutions to have an open discussion of this complex issue. It is an issue that is rooted in and shaped by the history, culture, and politics of Maryland.

Whatever the BOR might ultimately decide, I view the study as an opportunity for our campus to envision anew the purposes and possibilities of a great public research university in the globally competitive world of the 21st century.

When President Lincoln signed the Morrill Act in 1862 creating the land-grant university, an innovation that catalyzed 150 years of our nation's progress and prosperity, he wrote: "The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise to the occasion. As our case is new, so must we think anew."

I encourage us to "think anew" on how the flagship university in College Park, and the "founding university" in Baltimore with its health sciences schools and law school, might come together in ways that will catapult both campuses to the top ranks of global universities; in ways that will benefit students; in ways that will be a win for everyone, particularly for the people of Maryland.

Indeed, even before the request for this study, President Perman of UMB and I convened a meeting in Baltimore last spring of the university leadership and deans of both institutions to discuss educational and research collaborations. Provost Wylie and her counterpart at UMB are continuing to explore how to leverage our collective strengths for greater accomplishments and pre-eminence in the areas of health, physical and behavioral sciences, engineering, IT, public policy, education, law, and public service in our respective communities.

To win new opportunities in these tight economic times, we must work together to bridge boundariesacademic, professional, organizational, cultural, and geographic boundaries -- that will propel us in our trajectory of excellence and impact.

In his inaugural address last January, Governor O'Malley declared that "If Maryland is to succeed in this new global economy -- if Maryland's children are going to be winners in this new economy—we must move forward." And one of the ways of moving forward, he said, is "by building world-class institutions of higher learning, research, and innovation." I agree.

Sincerely,
Wallace D. Loh
President, University of Maryland

•University of Maryland Merger Study Task Groups