Proposal to merge U. of Maryland's College Park and Baltimore campuses stirs rivalry
The Washington Post
April 4, 2011
A legislative proposal to merge the flagship University of Maryland campus in College Park with the historic University of Maryland, Baltimore has stirred an ancient rivalry between Baltimore and suburban Washington as to which is the rightful epicenter of higher education in the state.
The Maryland Senate has adopted a budget amendment by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) that asks the board of regents of the state university system to study the potential benefits of a merger and to deliver findings and a timetable by year’s end.
A merger might not mean much in the daily lives of students at either campus. But it would effectively end the era of independent public universities in Baltimore and College Park — with College Park potentially cast as the senior partner.
Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) supports a merger. The presidents of the two institutions have remained neutral, as has university system Chancellor William E. Kirwan.
College Park is unusual for a flagship campus because it has no affiliated law or medical school. The Baltimore campus has both but few undergraduates. The two campuses were one university for much of the previous century. And the trend in higher education is toward more — not less — collaboration across academic disciplines. Only five other flagship state universities have neither law nor medical schools, according to research by Miller’s office.
“I don’t understand the benefit of having the separation,” O’Malley said. “When you put the two together, you really see what a powerhouse we have in Maryland.”