Dear Members of the Goucher Community:

I am writing to bring you up to date on an important budget matter and ask for your help.

Yesterday Governor Martin O’Malley asked the state’s Board of Public Works (BPW) – composed of State Treasurer Nancy Kopp, Comptroller Peter Franchot, and himself – to reduce the state’s operating budget by $364 million, in light of continuing revenue shortfalls.   As part of his reduction plan, the Governor had planned to ask the BPW to reduce the Sellinger Program, which provides state aid to independent institutions of higher education like Goucher College, by $11 million.  In response to protests from Goucher and other independent colleges, the governor first reduced the proposed cut to $9 million, and then at yesterday’s BPW meeting, at the initiative of Treasurer Kopp, the cut was reduced to $7 million

While this cut is substantially lower than originally contemplated, it is still rather severe.  It means that Goucher will lose an additional $303,000 in operating funds from the state for the current fiscal year.   This is in addition to the approximately $291,000 already cut from Goucher’s share of the Sellinger appropriation during the BPW’s July and August meetings.  Last April, at the end of the 2009 General Assembly session, Goucher’s income from the Sellinger Program for this fiscal year (2010) was supposed to be approximately $2.26 million; now it is down to $1.66 million – a serious drop in one revenue line (over which we have no direct control) in our FY 2010 budget.

Following is an article from today’s Baltimore Sun about yesterday’s BPW cuts:

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/bal-md.budget19nov19,0,7392168.story

It is obvious that the independent higher education sector is one of many Maryland constituencies that is affected by these actions.

It is obvious why this will have an effect on our budget, and those of the other independent institutions in Maryland, this year and possibly beyond.  Tom Phizacklea and I will be working with other members of the senior staff and the faculty and staff leadership to cushion the impact of these cuts on Goucher, and we will keep you informed of our efforts.  Meanwhile, the most important thing that members of our community can do is to strengthen our enrollments – our main source of revenue – through better retention and recruitment of students.  It is also important that we continue our efforts to improve the student/faculty ratio.

At this time, I am asking for your help in two other ways.  First, The Baltimore Sun has posted a poll on its website, which asks "Is it time for the state to end its program of monetary support for private colleges, mainly to help them pay for financial aid?"  Even though this is not a scientific poll, and any results could be easily challenged, we do not want to give our public officials any leverage or excuse to cut the Sellinger program further.  So please take a moment and voteNote: the question is asked in the negative, so the correct vote would be “NO,” it is not time for the State to ends its support. 

The poll can be accessed by going to the following link:

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/

Second, as preparations begin for the 2010 legislative session in Annapolis, I urge you to contact Governor O’Malley and your local legislators now  and ask for their support to protect the Sellinger Program from future budget cuts.  It would be useful to point out that private higher education has been cut much more dramatically than the state system or community colleges.  To find your state legislators, simply visit http://www.mdelect.net/electedofficials/, put in your address, and check the box for House of Delegates and State Senate.  To contact the Governor, call (410) 974-3901 or e-mail governor@gov.state.md.us.  Also, please take a moment to contact the elected officials representing Goucher College: Delegates Susan Aumann, William Frank, and Stephen Lafferty, and Senator Jim Brochin.

If you have any questions about the Sellinger Program or the message we are asking you to deliver to the Governor and Maryland legislators, please don’t hesitate to call or e-mail me or Wendy Belzer Litzke in my office.  If you reach out to legislators and do have contact with them, I would ask that you send an e-mail to Wendy to let her know so she can better coordinate our outreach efforts.

Thank you for your help in preserving the Sellinger Program and the important funds it brings to Goucher College. 

Sandy Ungar
President