- The Washington Times - Monday, December 8, 2008

The president of the University of Maryland College Park said Monday he is considering closing the campus for a day to help the state deal with an estimated $200 million revenue shortfall in fiscal 2009.

“I understand this is not welcome news to UM employees and their families, and it is not an outcome that any of us wanted,” President C. D. Mote Jr. said in an apologetic, campus-wide e-mail.

The closing of the University System of Maryland’s flagship campus would occur if Gov. Martin O’Malley, Democrat, follows through with plans to furlough state employees to save money and if the university can arrange for all employees to take a day of unpaid leave at the same time.

Mr. Mote said he expects specific budget-reduction figures from the O’Malley administration within two weeks and that the furloughs would come shortly after the holidays and not during classes.

A statewide furlough would save the state roughly $40 million, leaving the remaining $160 million shortfall to be covered from yet-to-be-specified sources, according to the e-mail.

Mr. Mote also assured faculty, staff and students that he will lose pay.

“I plan to take five furlough days as expected by the governor’s plan for all non-university state employees earning more than $60,000,” he said.

Mr. Mote expects the number of furloughs to be tied to salaries, with lesser-paid employees taking fewer days than higher-paid employees. The pay cuts would be spread over two pay periods, according to the e-mail.

He also said he is working with the state Senate’s Executive Committee and campus unions to address what impact the furloughs will have on employees.

“Although the current economic times are unsettling, we will weather this period just as we have done so many times in the past,” Mr. Mote said.

The state systems includes 11 universities, two research institutions and two regional centers.

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