Agency Response

R30B21 University of Maryland, Baltimore

DLS ISSUES

Closing the Achievement Gap

The president should comment on UMB’s Closing the Achievement Gap initiatives and why it seems the achievement gap has grown in the two most recent cohorts. The president should also comment on why the 2006 cohort dropped significantly for both groups of students.

UMB Response:  As of fall 2009 the School of Nursing has undertaken a much more comprehensive evaluation of prospective applicants to undergraduate nursing programs.  Previously an applicant was considered qualified for admission if they possessed a minimum 3.0 grade point average across two years of study.  Under the strengthened admissions process applicants must successfully complete an entrance exam, have a minimum 3.0 grade point average in specific core courses (e.g. basic sciences), patterns of course repeats are scrutinized, and candidates’ files are reviewed by a faculty panel.  As a result of these changes, and the impact of the Student Success Center, we expect to see a positive trend in graduation rates for all students graduating this spring and in the coming years.  

The Student Success Center at the School of Nursing, which is UM’s Closing the Achievement Gap Initiative, started in late 2010 and was not fully implemented until fall 2011.  This initiative seeks to increase the success rate in two “at-risk” courses that are taken by undergraduate nursing students in their first two semesters.  As of early 2012, students who have been engaged by the center are still in the pipeline.  The fall 2008 and earlier cohorts depicted in the analyst’s analysis did not benefit from the initiative.  The reported graduation rates are still “baseline” data and we have not yet seen the impact of the Student Success Center.  Because the number of African American students admitted each year typically ranges between 10 and 20 the variability in graduation rates from year to year is largely a factor of the small size of the cohorts involved. 

Extramural Funding

The president should comment on UMB’s recent successes in extramural funding and how it can continue this success given the state of the national economy.

UMB Response:  UMB expects that its growth in extramural funding will be modest for the next several years.  This is due to several factors.  First and foremost, we are out of available research space.  This sharply limits our ability to recruit well-funded researchers and promising young researchers.  In addition, over 60 percent of our funding comes from the federal government, either directly or through subcontracts from other organizations.  Federal support for research is at best flat and in many cases declining.  In response, we are aggressively pursuing other sources of funds, such as industry and foundations.

Workforce Shortage

The president should comment on UMB’s success in growing in-demand allied health field degrees and whether there is high demand for future growth in these, or related, degree programs at UMB. The president should also comment on what would be necessary to admit all qualified nursing applicants.

UMB Response:  On the downside, with the lagging economy, health care workers are staying in their jobs longer and not retiring and/or working full-time instead of part-time, decreasing the number of jobs available.  Even our pharmacy students are not readily finding jobs.  But this is a short-term phenomenon.

On the upside is the surge of the baby boomers reaching retirement age with increasing health care needs and the major influx of the newly insured beginning in 2014 who will need access to health care, requiring more health care jobs. Access and distribution of the workforce will be a major issue to address.

With respect to nursing, the School of Nursing (SON) strengthened its admission process in the fall of 2009.  Applicants must now complete an entrance exam, grades in specific courses and patterns of course repeats are scrutinized, and candidates’ files are reviewed by a faculty panel.  As a result, the numbers of “qualified applicants denied admission” are fewer than in the past.

More Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) students were scheduled to be admitted at Shady Grove but funds originally allocated in the five year initiative to double BSN enrollment at Shady Grove were not in the state budget for FY11, FY12 or FY13.  If we had received funding, an additional ~90 BSN students could have been admitted during this three year period.

Lack of faculty, a widening gap between academic and clinical nursing salaries, clinical practice sites, and physical space limit the SON from expanding capacity to admit more students, particularly BSN and nurse practitioners, the latter being in greater demand as health care reform is enacted.

NIH Salary Cap

The president should comment on any updates regarding how the NIH rule change will affect UMB, especially the SOM, and if the rule change may jeopardize retention of any critical faculty.

UMB Response:  The lowering of the federal salary cap on sponsored funding from agencies under Health and Human Services, including NIH, is estimated to result in a loss of $2 million in annual federal support to the School of Medicine.  A majority of the financial loss will be in salary support for faculty physician scientists.   This rule change will make it even more difficult to continue translational research currently underway in partnership with our clinical programs. The cap change impacts our most successful and senior research faculty.  Similar to other academic research centers, the research enterprise at the School of Medicine is highly leveraged on externally generated funding.  In order to minimize the new financial burden caused by the change in the cap, the medical school will reduce the size of certain funded research programs, resulting in a loss of faculty and staff and, over time, sponsored funding.   We expect this change will be an opportunity for highly successful faculty and programs to be recruited to academic centers who offer a high level of permanent salary support.  

Affordability of Undergraduate Studies

The president should comment on whether unsubsidized loans will continue increasing faster for students relative to other types of loans and if this may be a concern for students after graduation. The president should also comment on what can be done to promote alternatives to increasing student loans, such as scholarships, work study, or outside employment, while a student pursues higher education, especially for the students with lower Expected Family Contributions (EFCs).

Affordability of Graduate Studies

The president should comment on whether unsubsidized loans are a greater concern for graduate students due to the higher amounts of loans needed for graduate studies at UMB. The president should also comment on what has led to the very high amount of private and Parent PLUS loans taken out.

UMB Response:  Unsubsidized loans are increasing, however, UMB’s financial aid office carefully develops the cost of attendance budget to help students to not borrow more than they need.  This office also reaches out to any student who has borrowed above a loan threshold of two times the projected starting salary for the program and offers financial wellness training.  Students are encouraged to seek scholarship and grant funds and are provided with information on institutional and outside funding sources.  On- and off-campus Federal Work Study programs at for profit agencies is promoted.

Regarding graduate studies, the increase in Graduate PLUS loans allows our graduate/professional students to consolidate all of their federal loans after graduation and allows students to participate in federal repayment programs such as Income Based Repayment and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

Technology Transfer

The president should comment on whether UMB has adequate capacity and funding to manage, let alone grow, existing technology transfer-related resources. Also, the president should comment on what UMB’s share of USM’s strategic goals will be and how it expects to meet them while maintaining superior contributions to university teaching and academic research.

UMB Response:  After several years of decline in UMB’s tech transfer budget, we increased the budget in FY12 by more than $400,000 and provided base operating funds for a $1 million annual technology licensing budget.  The budget request for this year includes an additional $500,000.  While this is still modest compared to our peers, it will make a significant impact on our ability to meet USM’s strategic goals.  UMB is responsible for creating 100 of the 325 new companies that USM will create by 2020.  This goal includes new companies that are founded based on UMB technologies and companies that locate in the University of Maryland BioPark in Baltimore.  Currently we have about 20 companies in each category, for a total of 40. 

We will need continued investments in tech transfer to reach our goals, both for new companies and broader licensing activities.  We also need continued growth in state support for the biotech industry, including the biotech investment tax credit, Invest Maryland, the Maryland Industrial Partnerships program, the Maryland Biotechnology Center, and TEDCO as well as MII, which is discussed below.

Technology Transfer #2

The president should comment on how, if enacted, MII will change the way technology transfer business occurs at UMB. The president should also clarify what the opportunities are for the Strategic Alliance, how technology transfer oversight and funding will be allocated within the alliance, and the potential timeline for accomplishing that administrative transformation. The president should also specifically identify what issues may remain if each institution operates a technology transfer office independently versus a merged USM technology transfer office.

UMB Response:  MII will be a vital new program to help us in reaching our ambitious goals.  Through MII, we will have site miners – senior faculty who will work with our technology transfer office to identify and develop the best technologies.  MII will provide $100,000 to the most promising ideas.  This funding might be used to develop a prototype of a medical device for cardiac surgery.  The prototype and additional research will help in attracting the venture capital necessary to start a company and bring the technology to market.

Technology transfer is a primary focus of our partnership with the University of Maryland, College Park.  We are creating University of Maryland Ventures which will leverage the entrepreneurial programs and resources of both campuses, including our tech transfer offices, our research parks, and our schools.  Led by a steering committee with senior representatives from both campuses, University of Maryland Ventures will:

  • Bring clinicians from Baltimore together with engineers in College Park to create new medical devices and health informatics products and services.  Students and faculty from business, law, and pharmacy will assist with marketing and regulatory analysis and creating new companies.  With additional funding, we will create an intramural seed fund to move the most promising projects forward.
  • Jointly market to industry technologies, corporate funded research, and clinical trials, particularly to Maryland’s biotechnology industry.  With additional funding, we will create a joint University of Maryland Ventures office in Montgomery County that will help grow the universities and the I-270 technology corridor.
  • Adopt common, streamlined tech transfer policies and agreements to make it easier for faculty at both campuses to work together and to work with industry.
  • Most importantly, create an environment where faculty are encouraged and rewarded for being engaged in technology transfer and working with industry.  We want the most entrepreneurial researchers in the country to have the University of Maryland at the top of their list of desirable places to work.

The University of Maryland Ventures will start immediately to make some of these changes by realigning and focusing existing resources.  However, other initiatives such as the intramural seed fund and the joint outreach office in Montgomery County, will require additional funding.