Once again, the University System of Maryland (USM) has experienced a year marked by both challenges and achievements. While we should all take great pride in the fact that the USM was held out as a worthy funding priority in Annapolis even as the economy sputtered, we must not lose sight of the fact that we were in no way spared from budget action.
USM has been, and continues to be, called upon to help address the state’s fiscal challenges. Since FY 2009, the USM has sustained state funding reductions of $63.3 million, enacted furloughs to achieve savings of $68 million, and will transfer $142 million in fund balance to the state. All said, this comes to a total of $273.3 million.
Our Regents, faculty and staff have stepped up to meet growing demand despite these challenges: The USM is serving more students than ever before, our graduation rates are well above national averages for public universities, time-to-degree across the USM is at its best level ever, and we saw yet another record level of extramural research and development funding of more than $1.2 billion. And, between prestigious national publications such as The Princeton Review, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, Kiplinger’s, and U.S. News and World Report, you will find every one of USM’s degree-granting institutions featured. In addition, despite the struggling economy, our institutions continue to attract major philanthropic giving to support students, research, and facilities. As the University System moves into an era of unprecedented demands paired with scarcer resources, such private support will provide the key to advancing our mission.
The dedication and hard work of the University System of Maryland (USM) Foundation stands out, cementing the Foundation’s role as an ever more important part of the USM success story. The USM Foundation remains committed to managing our institutions’ assets in a manner that maximizes advancing scholarship and understanding and assisting students with much-needed financial support. Moreover, the Foundation has a unique role in advocating for the USM, and—perhaps most important—partnering with member institutions to support and enhance fundraising efforts and celebrate fundraising successes.
This past year, the endowment has experienced solid returns, celebrated fundraising successes, and created a genuine climate of philanthropy across the USM. These achievements underscore the professionalism of the Foundation at every level.
Finally, on a personal note, I was incredibly touched by the celebratory dinner hosted in May in recognition of the Academic Leadership Award I received from the Carnegie Corporation. The Regents, the Foundation, and so many friends and colleagues joined together to make the dinner a truly memorable experience. Even more important, I was moved by the funds the Foundation raised to support the launching of A Matter of Degrees, our focused effort to dramatically increase Maryland's college completion rate.
On behalf of the Board of Regents, the presidents, and the entire USM community, I extend my heartfelt appreciation, congratulations, and thanks to the many men and women who make the USM Foundation so effective. I look forward to our continuing partnership in the years to come.
William E. Kirwan