- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 23, 2003

University of Maryland officials defended the university system against charges that high administrative costs are responsible for big tuition increases.

“This notion that our staff is overpaid or we are overburdened with staff is simply untrue,” said Clifford Kendall, chairman of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents.

“We have less administrators than almost everybody in our peer group,” Mr. Kendall said Thursday. “As for salaries, our salaries are competitive with the people we compete with to get good people in their fields.”

Mr. Kendall’s comments came at the first meeting of a committee created by House Speaker Michael E. Busch, Anne Arundel Democrat, to study problems with affordability and access to public colleges in Maryland. Tuition has increased sharply in the past two years, and another increase is planned for next year as a result of reductions in state aid for higher education.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who has been criticized for cutting aid to colleges in this year’s budget, has challenged college administrators to take a closer look at salaries and workloads as a way of cutting costs.

As committee members arrived for the hearing on the College Park campus, they were greeted by students who agreed with those critics who say the university system spends too much money on administration.

“The real problem here is the oversized bureaucracy,” junior Bryan Shuy said. University officials have acted irresponsibly in approving huge salary increases for some in administration, he said.

One salary that caught the eye of some committee members in a chart handed out by Mr. Shuy was the 126 percent increase between 1998 and 2003 in the compensation paid to the president of the University of Maryland University College.

William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the university system, attributed the increase to the hiring of a new president and the necessity of paying a competitive salary to attract the best possible candidate for the job.

C. Daniel Mote, president of the University of Maryland at College Park, told the committee that the state’s flagship campus has made great strides in national rankings in recent years. The College Park campus moved up from 30th among public universities in 1998 to 17th today, he said.

But officials said the university system’s growing national reputation will suffer unless the state increases support.

“We are in a very highly competitive market. We’ve been cut a lot more than anybody else,” Mr. Mote said.

• Recycling recycled

The future of the District’s recycling program is in doubt.

The D.C. Council says it might not renew its contract with Waste Management — just weeks before the current agreement is set to expire.

Council members said they have been flooded with complaints about the company, saying it routinely misses pickups and comes on the wrong day. They also expressed concern about the proposed $6.4 million price tag for a new deal, which is about twice the cost of the current contract.

Instead, the council wants the city’s Public Works Department to take over operations. But the department’s director said narrow alleys and high density in some areas could make collecting difficult for city trucks.

The District trails other jurisdictions with only 14 percent of all waste recycled, compared with about 37 percent in Montgomery County.

• Talking trash

Not everyone in Charles County government is agreeing to pitch in during the county’s shortage of custodians.

Circuit Judge Robert Nalley has flatly refused to participate. He has written a memo to his staff instructing them not to empty their wastebaskets, saying employees need to maintain “a little decorum.” And the county’s director of community services said cutting out daily cleaning may be a violation of state heath regulations. She also said employees should not have to empty trash from their desks.

Faced with a budget squeeze, county officials imposed a hiring freeze this summer that left them unable to fill six custodial positions. The reduction in services was approved this month and began in some government buildings last week.

County officials asked county employees to help out by emptying their own trash, sweeping up dirt and replacing empty toilet paper rolls themselves.

• No endorsement

Katherine K. Hanley dropped out of the race to challenge Northern Virginia’s veteran congressman, but that doesn’t mean she is willing to support him.

Mrs. Hanley said on WTOP Radio last week that she has supported Rep. James P. Moran, a Democrat, in the past but isn’t willing to do so now, unless he does a better job of bringing people together.

The outgoing chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors was alluding, in part, to Mr. Moran’s comments earlier this year suggesting that Jews were pushing the country into war with Iraq.

Mrs. Hanley believes Mr. Moran remains vulnerable and said she wouldn’t be surprised if other candidates decide to enter the race. But she stopped short of saying who she would like to see take on the seven-term incumbent.

Mrs. Hanley announced two weeks ago that she was dropping out of the Democratic primary for personal reasons.

• Interparty partying

A prominent Republican told WAMU-FM last week that he was hosting a fund-raiser for the Democratic chairman of the D.C. Council’s education committee because Kevin Chavous has been “enormously supportive of school choice.”

Former White House counsel C. Boyden Gray has been a leading advocate of school vouchers for the District, which the Bush administration wants to make the centerpiece for its school-choice initiative. The idea has been opposed by many of the city’s Democratic leaders, who argue it will take money away from public schools.

D.C. Democratic Party Chairman Scott Bolden called the fund-raiser “disappointing” and said he doesn’t understand why Mr. Chavous would risk offending his own party.

The treasurer of Mr. Chavous’ re-election committee, meantime, said those donors at Thursday’s fund-raiser in Georgetown would be voucher supporters — not Republican activists.

This column is based in part on wire service reports.

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