- While Maryland legislators were recently discussing a full merger of the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore, complete with an option to shift to a single president, the state assembly has approved a more limited partnership.
- The Baltimore Sun reports the legislation strengthens the partnership between the two institutions in hopes of raising both their profiles by linking the research capabilities of one with the professional schools of the other.
- The bill, which includes additional funding for Towson University and University of Maryland, Baltimore County, would cost $4.5 million next year, and it is unclear whether Gov. Larry Hogan will actually sign it — though if that is the case, legislators could rally enough support to override his veto.
The question of who would lead a merged institution was a sticking point on the latest round of negotiations in Maryland and one of the key reasons such a discussion broke down about five years ago. Neither campus wanted to run with an absentee president, of sorts. While the legislature was mulling the plan, UMB President Jay Perman said he was concerned a merger would limit his campus’ autonomy as well as its impact on Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods.
Georgia has been a leader in merging state higher education institutions. In 2013, eight schools became four new ones, all with new names and new presidents. Last year the board of regents approved two more mergers. North Carolina and Arkansas also have been exploring mergers more seriously as state systems across the country continue to deal with the realities of limited funding.