December 19, 2008

Dear Colleagues:

            I know the holidays are quickly approaching, but I want to ask for your assistance with an urgent matter.

            As you surely realize, the national (and international) recession is affecting all of us in one way or another, and it could have a serious impact on funding for important programs at the local, state, and federal levels of government.

            Goucher College relies on four primary sources of funding: student tuition and fees, endowment income, gifts and donations, and a Maryland program of state aid to private higher education (the Sellinger Program). The Sellinger Program awards state aid to independent colleges through a formula linked to enrollment and to the per-student appropriation of selected four-year public institutions. The 16 eligible private institutions in Maryland, including Goucher, receive only about three percent of the state’s investment in higher education through this program, but it makes a major difference at the margins of all of our budgets.  I am writing to you now to ask for your help, because the Sellinger Program funds are in serious jeopardy of being cut further this year and possibly even eliminated in the future.

            Unfortunately, due to Maryland’s ongoing fiscal crisis, the Sellinger Program has been underfunded for several years now and underwent yet another cut this past October. In fact, the program has already been cut by 18 percent in FY 2009 alone. The vast majority (75 percent) of the Sellinger funds are designated to provide financial aid to Maryland residents, and most of that aid is distributed based on need.  Fewer state funds exist today to help students pay for college than last year – on a per student basis, we are receiving less money than we did in FY 2002. This has negative consequences for Maryland, for Goucher College, and for the students we serve.  This state needs a strong and vibrant private higher education sector to help serve the needs of its population, to generate jobs and other economic activity, and to attract students from elsewhere who often stay and go on to play a major role in Maryland.

            We understand that yet another cut in the Sellinger funds may be imminent, so that is why the time to act is now.  The only way to try to prevent these cuts – or the eventual elimination of the Sellinger Program – is to convince Maryland legislators that these funds are critical for the health and well-being of the state. We have been told that while writing letters can be effective, the most important way to influence our legislators is through face-to-face contact, whether it is a chance meeting in a grocery store or during a scheduled visit to their offices in Annapolis.

            As we prepare for the 2009 legislative session, I urge you to speak with your legislators about the importance of the Sellinger Program for Goucher College. You could write to them, of course, but even more meaningful would be direct personal contact.  Let them know that the program simply cannot sustain additional cuts. We know that in times of fiscal hardship, these programs are, ironically, the first ones to be cut or eliminated. But now, more than ever, as the country struggles to get back on its feet economically, is the time to invest in higher education. Tell your legislators and other leaders in Annapolis how important the Sellinger Program is to you and to Goucher College.

            To find your state legislators, simply visit http://www.mdelect.net/electedofficials/ and check the box for House of Delegates and State Senate. Again, face-to-face contact is the best way to reach these officials.

            If you have any questions about the Sellinger Program or the message we are asking you to deliver, please don’t hesitate to call or e-mail Wendy Belzer Litzke, our Director of Government and Community Relations, at 410-337-6042 or wendy.litzke@goucher.edu.

            Thank you for helping us to save the Sellinger Program.


Sincerely,

Sandy Ungar

Sanford J. Ungar, President
Goucher College
1021 Dulaney Valley Road
Baltimore, MD  21204
Office: 410-337-6040  Fax: 410-337-6055
sungar@goucher.edu