Q&A Archives

President's Q&A, February 2014

February 04, 2014

Dr. Perman’s quarterly group Q&A session was held on Feb. 4 at the Francis King Carey School of Law. Dr. Perman and members of his leadership team began the Q&A with presentations on the Middle States reaccreditation and the University’s financial outlook.

Middle States

Presented by Roger J. Ward, EdD, JD, MPA, chief accountability officer and vice president of academic affairs.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) is scheduled for a reaccreditation visit by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. It happens once every 10 years. We were last accredited in 2006 and we had a very successful site visit at that time. 

Most of you know that each of our six professional schools is accredited on a more regular cycle so oftentimes the faculty, staff, and students are focused on reaccreditations of our individual schools. The Middle States reaccreditation, however, reaccredits the University, and is actually the reaccreditation that is used by the federal government to determine whether the institution is eligible to continue to receive federal support, including federal financial aid and research grants and contracts. 

Without the Middle States accreditation the programs in the schools would be in jeopardy because we wouldn’t be able to receive federal funding. So it’s a very important reaccreditation process that was recently launched when President Perman named me and Natalie Eddington, dean of the School of Pharmacy, as co-chairs of the Middle States Steering Committee. The full Steering Committee will be comprised of 27 members who will be formally charged next week by the president. Shortly after that, there will be a flurry of activity launching the self-study process. 

But it’s a Universitywide undertaking, and therefore it’s not the responsibility of any one person or one group. So we will be asking for your involvement and support throughout the two-year self-study process. 

Our first major activity where I would encourage your attendance is March 20 when we will have a visit from our Middle States liaison, Dr. Debra Klinman, vice president of Middle States. She’s visiting the campus on that day and will meet with Dr. Perman and will meet with University System of Maryland Board of Regents representative Louise Michaux Gonzales, who is an attorney and an alumna of the Carey School of Law. As part of Dr. Klinman’s visit, we will be hosting an open town hall session for the greater University community. I think it’s very important that we as a University come to that session and ask questions of Dr. Klinman about the accreditation process and hear from her what Middle States’ expectations are with respect to how we conduct this self-study.

In the next couple of weeks, we begin our communication plan, starting with a message from President Perman and then a follow-up from the co-chairs asking for you to become engaged in the process. There are a number of people in the audience who are already active in the process and I thank them for their engagement thus far. We really will depend on you, the entire University community, to help us get through this self-study process.‌

Financial Outlook

Roger Ward

Presented by Peter N. Gilbert, MSF, chief operating officer and senior vice president, and Bruce Jarrell, MD, FACS, chief academic and research officer and senior vice president  

Pete Gilbert

Mr. Gilbert: During the last few years we have pursued several strategic initiatives at the University, including the strategic plan; MPowering the State, which is our relationship with College Park; enhancing commercialization tech transfer from the research that our faculty do; and very specific things like our agreement with MedImmune to bring in new kinds of research funding and collaboration.‌

Those have all been very strategic decisions to position the University to keep moving forward. At the same time, the University has been facing financial challenges. The state budget has been changing. The federal budget has been challenging. There are other, more unique challenges. We happen to be sitting in the law school, which has seen a drop in applications, following a national trend. The law school is responding to this challenge very well, but it also puts pressure on the parent university. 

Without question Dr. Jarrell and I will tell you that these financial challenges can be daunting. But they also represent opportunity — to look at how we are structured and how we   can be better.

Dr. Jarrell: When you look at research funding across the board for this institution the prior year it was down 9 percent. This year it is flat to date. That is encouraging. We’re expending a lot of energy to identify new relationships, new sources of funding, new opportunities to compete for things that we couldn’t compete for in the past. It’s been a very active strategic effort on our part.   

Mr. Gilbert: Let’s talk a little about the immediate financial situation. In Fiscal Year 2014, we received a $2 million reduction to our state budget. All the schools took about half of that reduction and central administration took about half of that reduction. Dr. Jarrell and I made the decision that we weren’t going to just portion that out. We decided to look at it as a whole, and decided that we would have a hiring review to assist in doing that. 

We’re going to look at all the vacant positions and the positions people want to post. We think the hiring review will last just for FY14, but we’re trying to use that opportunity to re-set the table a little bit. Simply stated, we’re taking a $2 million cut this year but getting $18.5 million more next year from the state. Almost the entirety of that $18.5 million goes to the COLAs and merit [raises].‌

Bruce Jarrell

Among our challenges? Our expense base is growing a little bit bigger than our revenue base grew. The $18.5 million increase in the governor’s budget won’t become official until April 10, the last day of the General Assembly session. 

Any questions before we move on? 


Q: Hi, I work for Campus Life Services and as for the positions that you’re going to be reviewing, do you have any goals in mind for how much you’re hoping to save? How long will the jobs be frozen? How will this all impact us?

Mr. Gilbert: Great question. We have to save $986,000 for the central administrative and academic unit between now and the end of the year. That’s out of a pool of open and vacant positions in the area of $2.7 million. They are all in various stages of not being posted to being posted and about to offer a job. We have been meeting regularly to review everything that has been coming in. We move through them fairly quickly so we hope it will not create any undue delay. 

Dr. Jarrell: It’s not just a financial review. It’s also how strategic is this particular position to our agenda moving forward. 

Mr. Gilbert: So as Dr. Jarrell said we’re trying to be strategic in the review, we’re trying to make sure we set things up so we’re supporting our critical core missions, we’re looking to be efficient and avoid duplicating services, and we’re trying to do all that with an eye on what makes the most sense going forward. The logical question would be, ‘Well, how do you two know all that?’ and the answer is we don’t. So we’re going to be engaging people in the schools and the central  administrative units to help us with some of this. Who knows where the next great idea will come from? Our goal is to get ahead of the curve and that’s what we’re trying to do.

Community Promise

President Perman believes in keeping his promises, which is why he’s happy to see early progress on UMB’s Community Promise, an initiative that will bring meaningful improvement to the quality of life in the West Baltimore community, one of his goals since becoming president in 2010. University advocates will address health care disparities, provide improvements in education for children, attend to basic needs, provide opportunities for access to careers, promote physical redevelopment, and look to attract retailers and residents.

“We have a responsibility to the people and to the environment around us,” Perman said in his Feb. 4 Q&A. “Anyone who thinks that we can be an island — getting our work done on this campus with our backs to downtown and West Baltimore — is in my estimation sorely mistaken. If we don’t make the environment around us and the community around us better, this University will suffer.”

UMB has literally hundreds of outreach programs. By harnessing the power of all of them, Community Promise will see that groups and initiatives such as Promise Heights, CLUB UMB, and the Local Community-Based Learning and Programs (formerly the Center for Community Engagement) have the greatest impact, eliminating duplicative efforts in what Perman called “our zeal to do good things.” 

Coordinating this effort will be an executive director of community initiatives and engagement. A search committee has taken 65 applicants for the new position down to a final four with a job offer expected to be extended in late March.

The executive director will face a full agenda. Among the items in Community Promise are focusing the University’s efforts in specific schools to enhance and multiply the positive impact of the work UMB does there, addressing health disparities in the West Baltimore community in areas such as obesity, asthma, and heart disease, providing access to career opportunities and creating workforce development activities for community residents, building on the BioPark’s planning and development efforts, and working with the office of Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to develop and implement a property development plan.

Glenn Rabut“This University is insufficiently appreciated in this city and the state for what we already do,” Perman said at the Q&A. “We have done a lot of wonderful things, but we haven’t quite packaged them in a way that makes the rest of the world say, ‘Look at what UMB is doing.’ There is no reason why we should not get credit for what we are doing. Because,  very practically speaking, if we project ourselves well, we will get the additional resources from the public and private community to do more. I will need everyone’s engagement as we continue to define this initiative, so look forward to hearing about this in the months to come.”


Q: Hi, I work for Campus Life Services and as for the positions that you’re going to be reviewing, do you have any goals in mind for how much you’re hoping to save? How long will the jobs be frozen? How will this all impact us?

Pete Gilbert, chief operating officer and senior vice president: Great question. We have to save $986,000 for the central administrative and academic unit between now and the end of the year. That’s out of a pool of open and vacant positions in the area of $2.7 million. They are all in various stages of not being posted to being posted and about to offer a job. We have been meeting regularly to review everything that has been coming in. We move through them fairly quickly so we hope it will not create any undue delay. 

Dr. Jarrell: It’s not just a financial review. It’s also how strategic is this particular position to our agenda moving forward. 

Mr. Gilbert: So as Dr. Jarrell said we’re trying to be strategic in the review, we’re trying to make sure we set things up so we’re supporting our critical core missions, we’re looking to be efficient and avoid duplicating services, and we’re trying to do all that with an eye on what makes the most sense going forward. The logical question would be, ‘Well, how do you two know all that?’ and the answer is we don’t. So we’re going to be engaging people in the schools and the central  administrative units to help us with some of this. Who knows where the next great idea will come from? Our goal is to get ahead of the curve and that’s what we’re trying to do.


Q: I’m with Local 1839 of AFSCME [American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees] representing the bargaining unit here at the University. I was wondering if there is any way we can be supportive of the University in budget hearings in Annapolis this year?

Dr. Perman: I very much appreciate that question. I’m sure the answer is yes. The universities themselves engage in the process of the University System of Maryland, of which we’re a part, during the legislative session. This is largely focused on testimony to the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee and the House Appropriations Committee and we as a University alternate years with other universities. So this is our year and we will be giving testimony, which I am preparing. 

Dr. PermanAt the System level, our testimony will be very much in support of the governor’s budget. The governor has been fair to higher education, particularly to what is my highest priority, which is to continue to push the compensation issue. I don’t need to remind anybody in this room that there were a lot of years that you and we tolerated no increase in compensation. We’re in a position now, fortunately, where we can push ahead as we discussed earlier with the COLAs and the merit pool in April and hopefully another COLA in January. So we’re going to be supporting the governor’s budget. Pete [Gilbert] told you we won’t know for sure how we fall out until the end of the session because in Maryland the legislature cannot add to the budget but they certainly can draw lines through what the governor proposes. So we have to defend the budget. I’m also going to be talking about our capital plans. As we develop the testimony, I will remember your offer, OK?


Q: I brought this up at the chancellors council meeting and just want to make sure it is known to senior leadership that when we can release the merit guidelines, please do it as soon as possible because it is creating angst among the staff not hearing anything only seven weeks out.  

Mr. Gilbert: All of the schools and Dr. Jarrell and I for the central unit have turned in our merit plans. Those have been reviewed and we’re getting comments back on a number of items. Dr. Perman should get them at the end of next week at the latest and then the approved language will go out.


Q: Do you want to comment on IPE Day in a couple of weeks [Feb. 19]?  

Thank you for the question. As passionate as I am about community engagement I’m equally passionate recognizing the opportunity UMB has because of its constituencies. The delivery of health care is increasingly in need of an appreciation for and the execution of care by teams. 

When you and I see our provider for a sore throat or a laceration, we don’t need a team to treat it. But ours is a population that is increasingly burdened by chronic illness, whether it’s diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, cancer — I could go on and on. 

The population is growing and with the Affordable Care Act, no matter what you think of it, that begins to address the fact that everyone is entitled to health care. 

So we have to teach the people who are going to take care of us in the future, which are the very people being educated in this institution, how to work as a team. It’s no longer rugged individualists. You know this is Tuesday. And on Tuesday afternoons about an hour and a half from now I will have the privilege of caring for patients at the President’s Clinic. There will be a single student or more from every one of the schools with me so I can play my part in showing our students why they need to appreciate one another and how they need to prepare to work as a team.

I say this with apology to the law school colleagues in attendance but when I discuss this around the country and I explain that I have law students in the clinic with me, the usual response I get is ‘OK, Perman. We get it. But what do you do with the law students?’ 

The fact of the matter is there are many conditions in which a lawyer is probably the most effective member of that health care team. I use this illustration with the students. Some of you know I’m a pediatrician. If a child is lead poisoned in an old Baltimore house because there is lead in the paint and they come for treatment, we doctors are very good at getting the lead out.

But the child needs to go home to an environment where he can’t get lead poisoned again. Now I was not trained, nor was anyone in the health care professions trained, to get the landlord to obey the law. But the lawyers were! So that is one example of a lawyer on a health care team.

This leads me to IPE Day on Feb. 19. We need to rally as a university at least once each year and give an opportunity for all of our students to come together. We did it last year for the first time and there were 425 students participating from each and every one of the schools. It was not a time-wasting day. There were scenarios that were put together by the faculty and students who broke up into nine or 10 groups and solved problems together. 

Allow me to recall one of my favorite moments if I may. So the 425 students came back to the School of Nursing auditorium and I stood in the front with a microphone and I said ‘OK, tell me what you learned.’  And a master’s student in nursing raised her hand and said, ‘Here’s what I learned, Dr. Perman. The pharmacy students know everything.’ That’s what we’re after here. Thanks for bringing it up. I want the students there.

A recap of IPE Day 2014 is available here


Q: I’m not a clinical person but you piqued my interest about whether there would be a future for degree programs where there would be more interdisciplinary work done. Is that something the University might want to think about in the future?

Thank you for that question. One of the things I charged Jane Kirschling, dean of our nursing school who is also leading our IPE effort with the help of many, is to break down some of the impediments that have existed for years in this and other places that again reflect our silos. It’s very hard to get over the hump of the following kind of conversation: ‘If I teach your students, who’s going to get the tuition?’ I understand that’s a practical question. But we have to overcome it. So we have people working on this.

Maureen KotlasThe students are always ahead of the rest of us. That’s always the case and we should acknowledge it and celebrate it. The students understand what I’m talking about when we talk about IPE and they manage themselves accordingly. When I talk to the pharmacy students who come to my clinic, what I often hear is ‘I came to this pharmacy school because there is a law school here.’ So they are pharmacists who are going to do regulatory work. They need a law degree, too. So if the customer wants it, we have to deliver. And maybe it’s not always going to require ‘well we go to pharmacy school during the day and law school at night.’ Maybe we can be a little more imaginative than that. 


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