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University of Maryland Strategic Partnership Act of 2016

Dear University of Maryland community:

I would like to let you know of a bill just introduced in the Maryland Senate that could have a positive impact on our campus. If enacted into law, it would create a much stronger partnership between our campus and the University of Maryland, Baltimore, making fuller use of our complementary strengths.

SB 1052, "University of Maryland Strategic Partnership Act of 2016," recognizes a single name and two campuses. It defines "The University of Maryland" as "a strategic partnership" between "The University of Maryland College Park Campus" and "The University of Maryland Baltimore Campus."

Nearly four years ago, we began such a partnership—without the benefit of state law—known as "MPower." It has been successful: joint research centers; joint technology commercialization that increased licensing revenue by 72%; some 60 joint faculty appointments resulting in over $70M in research awards; and new cross-university educational programs that expand opportunities for our students. The potential is even greater.

This bill builds upon and expands MPower. The intent is to empower the two institutions to reach the highest levels of national prominence in education, research, and economic impact on the state. The bill recognizes that (1) research is the "building block of a knowledge-based economy;" (2) federal research funding is "transitioning from single-discipline grants to multi-disciplinary grants;" and (3) the state must invest in research and innovation to catalyze economic vitality.

In terms of governance, the two campuses would each continue to be led by its own president. The two presidents are asked to form a joint steering committee, similar to the existing MPower committee, to promote close alignment of both institutions. When a vacancy occurs in the presidency of either campus, the Board of Regents is authorized—but not required—to determine whether to proceed with one president for both campuses.

Among the bill's other provisions:

  • Creates and funds a "Center for Maryland Advanced Ventures" in Baltimore to seek joint and interdisciplinary grant funds and commercialize the research of both campuses.
  • Creates and funds a "University of Maryland Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Development (UMCEED) in College Park to advance education and research in interdisciplinary fields that are critical to the knowledge-based economy of the future, including neurosciences, virtual reality, data analytics, and cyber-security.
  • Funds the construction of a new Biomedical and Engineering Education building in Shady Grove, and directs the two presidents to develop plans for joint programs that will also contribute to the economic development of the region.
  • Calls for a joint plan by the two presidents to bring the assets of their respective campuses—the professional schools in Baltimore and the colleges in College Park (Education, Business, Social and Behavioral Sciences, etc.) to support job creation and reduce unemployment in Baltimore.
  • Moves USM headquarters from Adelphi to Baltimore City and transfers ownership of the USM building on Metzerott Road to the University of Maryland College Park Campus.

The University of Maryland Strategic Partnership institutionalizes the collaboration between the two institutions and sets the stage for both to eventually become more highly placed among U.S. research universities in terms of combined research expenditures and federal research rankings. Almost all of the funding peers of our campus have a medical school, a law school, or both, which expand interdisciplinary research and educational opportunities.

Provost Rankin and I will be meeting with campus groups in the coming days to discuss this proposed law. We will keep you informed of its progress as it makes its way through the legislative process.

Sincerely,

Wallace D. Loh
President