Politically Connected Regents will decide fate of USM
This isn’t a small deal for taxpayers in the state of Maryland. The 2015 University System Budget shows that the System is a $5.1 billion enterprise that employs almost 29,000 people. The USM budget constitutes 13% of the operating budget, and is responsible for the biggest of our state institutions of higher education. 168,000 students are part of the University System. Everybody either knows somebody who attends a USM school or has their degree from a USM school.
Let’s just say that the selection of Chancellor is a big deal.
An article in Thursday’s Sun highlighted the challenges that face the Board of Regents in selecting a candidate. It is an unenviable task to be sure. It would appear the the candidate that everybody wants is Freeman Hrabowski, President of UMBC, and he wants nothing to do with the position:
Hrabowski, who has led UMBC to national prominence in his 22 years as president, said he would not be considered as a candidate for the chancellor’s job.
He said he has been wooed over the years by “public and private institutions” with “invitations to discuss possibilities” but that he has long been happy to stay at UMBC, where he earned a salary of $428,800 last year.
“My decision to not be considered has more to do with my commitment to UMBC than anything else. I think the chancellor’s position is a great opportunity,” Hrabowski said. “Each person has to decide what’s important to him or her. … It’s simply a personal choice.”
The position of Regent is one of the sexier sinecures that a Governor can hand out to influential supporters. Governor O’Malley is no exception. Members of the Board include donors who have given almost $150,000 to O’Malley, Brown and other Democrats (click here to see a chart of all of the donations). It also includes a former Congressman, a former State Senator, O’Malley’s former Deputy Chief of Staff, and prominent Baltimore minister Frank Reid. That fact is of great concern to me, as it opens up the likelihood that the Regents will select somebody who is an ill-prepared Democratic functionary instead of a qualified educator or qualified business leader.