UMCP-UMB Merger Study

Statement fom USM Board of Regents  

USM Board of Regents Endorses Creation of University of Maryland Strategic Alliance

December 9, 2011—The University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents today endorsed the concept of creating the University of Maryland Strategic Alliance, an innovative and structured collaboration between the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP). The alliance will leverage the resources of the two universities to better position USM to serve students and the State of Maryland.

The board action resulted from a comprehensive and inclusive six-month study of the advantages and disadvantages of merging the two USM universities in response to a Maryland General Assembly Joint Chairmen’s request. The study involved work groups comprising faculty, staff, and students from UMB and UMCP and from all 12 USM institutions. The board also solicited input from higher education merger experts, elected officials, business and community leaders, and other interested individuals.

Also at today’s meeting, the board charged USM Chancellor William E. Kirwan, PhD, UMCP President Wallace D. Loh, PhD, and UMB President Jay A. Perman, MD, to develop a detailed plan for creating the alliance. They will submit the plan to the board by the end of March 2012.

In assessing the advantages and disadvantages of a UMB-UMCP merger, the board concluded that the disadvantages of a merger outweighed the advantages. Board members also concluded that the strategic alliance would capitalize on the advantages while minimizing the risks associated with a merger.

As envisioned by the board, the alliance will leverage the combined resources of each institution, enabling USM to:

  • better prepare students to fill the region’s workforce needs through joint academic programs.
  • attract more research funding to the state.
  • create more opportunities for innovation, technology transfer, and commercialization.
  • develop capacity to better implement joint appointments between the two campuses.
  • create more opportunities to compete even more successfully for star faculty and researchers.

The board views the University of Maryland Strategic Alliance as a giant step toward paving the way for more collaboration among all institutions within USM. While its primary focus will be to strengthen the collaboration between UMB and UMCP, it will serve as a model for furthering collaborations systemwide.

Among the disadvantages identified for a merger were lack of unified, collective agreement; the cultural and operational differences of the two institutions; required funding enhancements; and threats to achieving the goals of the USM strategic plan.

The identified benefits of the alliance were many—committed leadership, significantly fewer challenges regarding campus cultural differences, avoiding some of the costs identified for a merger, its potential to move USM strategic goals forward, and others.

Among the goals articulated in Powering Maryland Forward, USM’s strategic plan, are advancing the state toward its established goal of having 55 percent of its young adult population hold a college degree and enhancing the state’s competitiveness.