The Universities of Maryland

In an effort to save money many state are contemplating merging similar or geographically near higher education institutions. But the universities often reject such mergers. Maryland is the latest state where such a merger has been rejected.

According to a press release by the University System of Maryland:

The University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents today endorsed the concept of creating the University of Maryland Strategic Alliance, an innovative and structured collaboration between the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP). The alliance will leverage the resources of the two universities to help position USM to serve students and the State of Maryland better.

In assessing the advantages and disadvantages of a UMB-UMCP merger, the board concluded that the disadvantages of a merger outweighed the advantages. Board members also concluded that the strategic alliance would capitalize on the advantages while minimizing the risks associated with a merger.

To someone outside of Maryland such a distinction (“strategic alliance” vs. merger) seems a little ridiculous. The two schools are already component parts of the same institution (the University of Maryland) and share the same board of regents.

But such features are common to state university systems. The schools seem more alike than different to outsiders, yet are too distinct to merge, according to the individual institutions.

This is somewhat complicated by the particularly odd nature of the Maryland system, and its bizarre naming structure. The two institutions contemplating a merger are state’s flagship public institution, the University of Maryland, College Park, and its oldest professional school, the University of Maryland, Baltimore. The university system also consists of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, the University of Maryland University College, and the University of Baltimore.

Apparently one of the disadvantages of a merger was “the cultural and operational differences of the two institutions,” though, frankly, just keeping all of these schools straight is pretty difficult.

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer