By David J. Ramsay
Maryland is rightly referred to as "the land of pleasant living." We
enjoy a healthy economy that relies on an educated work force
serving many large federal agencies and private companies.
Higher education in Maryland is vital in driving this economy.
From our community colleges to our research universities, higher
education is the wellspring of Maryland's technicians, health care
professionals, engineers, information specialists and biomedical
researchers - to name just a few.
This is why Gov. Martin O'Malley's efforts to increase funding
for higher education are so important.
Maryland boasts of three major research universities: the Johns
Hopkins University, the University of Maryland, College Park, and my
own University of Maryland, Baltimore. Collectively, these
universities generate well over $2.5 billion annually in sponsored
research. These dollars are awarded competitively and come to
Maryland because of the quality of our researchers and faculty. And
that's only the beginning of their economic impact. Both Hopkins and
UM Baltimore support major health care operations. With their
affiliated hospitals and practice plans, these two universities are
No. 1 and No. 5 among the largest employers in Maryland.
In addition, Maryland's three major research universities are
each developing multimillion-dollar research parks that are almost
entirely supported by non-state revenue. Our large research
establishments generate much of the new knowledge that keeps
Maryland's economy strong and healthy. According to research from
the Jacob France Institute at the University of Baltimore, the UM
Baltimore campus alone, not counting its affiliated hospital system,
generates $16.50 in economic activity for every $1 of state general
funds invested - and more than 23,000 jobs.
Why, then, should Marylanders invest more tax dollars in higher
education? Because otherwise, Maryland will lose in the long run.
Already, tuitions are very high, preventing talented students from
pursuing their dreams. Competitor states such as New Jersey,
California, Connecticut and Pennsylvania are investing significantly
in the capital and operating budgets of their universities. This
will make it much more difficult for Maryland to recruit and retain
key faculty who are among the main engines that drive this economy.
And the competition is not restricted to the U.S.; England, Ireland,
India and Singapore are also recruiting our stars.
If Maryland is to build upon its leadership role in the knowledge
economy, higher education in the state - and its research
universities in particular - need enhanced state support.
David Ramsay is president of the University of Maryland,
Baltimore. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.