- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 4, 2002

ANNAPOLIS - Administrators at Maryland's flagship public university have been told to trim spending and expect less funding next year, even though Gov. Parris N. Glendening said education would be protected from budget cuts when the state's economy soured after September 11.

Colleges and universities were among a handful of agencies to secure increases in state aid this year, and Glendening spokeswoman Raquel Guillory said the governor still expects them to get the money they were promised.

But the bottom line doesn't look good to professors at the University of Maryland at College Park, where administrators are directing departments to tighten their belts aggressively to avoid running out of money in the next 11 months and to brace for a possible 3 percent cut next year.

"If we get a budget cut, it's going to hurt badly," said Stephen Halperin, dean of the university's College of Computer, Mathematical and Physical Sciences and a math professor.

Mr. Halperin said his college is saving wherever it can to ensure that damage to its departments - which stand among the top 15 in public and private schools nationwide and have helped raised the University of Maryland's standing - is neither deep nor permanent.

The computer sciences department at the College Park campus has set a goal of saving $300,000 by not recruiting new faculty, not making renovations, "significantly" restricting equipment and furniture purchases, cutting supply costs by a third and printing by half, and eliminating department travel budgets, according to a memo from the department's director of administration.

Mr. Halperin said most state aid the college receives pays salaries for faculty, staff, and teaching and research assistants, and that savings are intended to protect such "central expenditures."

"We will live in a way that will slow us down but not stop us," Mr. Halperin said.

Faculty sources said similar messages about cutting spending are being sent around other Maryland higher education institutions that receive state support.

But Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend - who is running to succeed the self-proclaimed "education governor" - has said Maryland's economy is "poised to take off," propelled largely by research at its universities and federal laboratories.

In late June, Mrs. Townsend released a plan that called for maintaining state funding at current levels and increasing support for Maryland's historically black colleges. She said she believed such a budget could be funded without raising taxes.

Maryland had to close a budget gap that exceeded $400 million last year and $500 million this year. Income-tax collections are running about 4 percent behind projections made when Maryland lawmakers approved the budget this spring, a spokesman for Comptroller William Donald Schaefer has said.

And revenues are $150 million behind March estimates, according to staff at the Bureau of Revenue Estimates.

"Is now the time to say I told you so?" Senate Minority Leader J. Lowell Stoltzfus said Friday. The lower Eastern Shore Republican has repeatedly called into question the governor's assertions that his budgets have been fiscally sound and socially responsible.

Republicans and Democrats have pointed to the $108 million deficit Mr. Glendening left for Prince George's County when he stepped down as county executive to become governor in 1995. Mr. Glendening said during his 1994 gubernatorial campaign that he was leaving a surplus.

When Mr. Glendening was running for re-election in 1998, Brit Kirwan resigned as president of the University of Maryland at College Park and released a letter complaining that higher education in the state - and at that campus in particular - was suffering because the governor had not fulfilled promises for more state aid.

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