UMCP/UMB merger will impact TU faculty, staff
The possible merger of the University of Maryland, Baltimore and University of Maryland, College Park could affect everyone involved in higher education, including faculty.
Towson University professor of mathematics Martha Siegel spoke at the Oct. 21 public hearing on the possible merger and said she strongly opposes it.
“I was here before the USM was formed, and at the time, there were two systems: one under the Board of Regents and one under the Board of Trustees, which Towson was under,” Siegel said. “And we were always fighting over resources and we were considered the lesser of the two groups, and I am afraid if the combined mammoth institution would have a level of prestige that would overwhelm the rest of us.”
Siegel said that she felt compelled to speak her mind at the meeting because she was afraid only faculty representing UMCP and UMB would be there.
Student Government Association Director of Legislative Affairs Ryan Fredricksson said at the SGA general meeting on Oct. 25 that the majority of the members of the public that showed up to the hearing were against the merger, although Siegel said she expects more faculty, especially from UMCP, to express their support for the merger. One example of this support came during the Oct. 28 public hearing on the merger at UMCP, when former UMCP President C.D. “Dan” Mote, Jr. said that he was afraid if a merger did not occur, then the two universities could miss out on key opportunities to work together.
“Without a merger, what we see in the historical record — a lack of major collaborations and a number of missed opportunities — is what we’ll get in the future,” he said.
Siegel was not the only faculty member from the Baltimore region to speak at the hearing. Pathology professor and President of the UMB faculty Senate Richard Zhao spoke on behalf of the rest of the faculty Senate, who voted to oppose the merger as a whole, but support further cooperation and collaboration between the two schools.
“We want to enhance collaboration between the two schools because we already have collaboration, and in addition to that, we do not want to single two schools out, but rather collaborate with all of the schools in the University System of Maryland,” he said, “Cooperation is a mutual agreement and not forced by anyone. I collaborate with my colleagues because I want to, not because anyone asked me to.”
While Zhao did not speak on the impact the merger could have on Towson, Siegel said she is concerned about the financial impact the merger will have on the University.
“I think Towson University is working its way toward prestige and we are on a good path, and what concerns me is that the pie is only so big, and if we are trying to fund this larger institution, it could definitely have a negative impact on us,” she said.