University of Maryland President Wallace Loh addressed the University Senate about budget concerns and the Trump administration during the group's meeting Wednesday.
Two months ago, Gov. Larry Hogan proposed cutting 41 currently filled positions and 60 vacant ones, but this university did not lay off faculty or staff and "took 40 vacant positions and gave it back to the state," Loh added.
But state funding has been decreasing since 1990, and budget cuts are going to continue, Loh said.
"Long-term, it doesn't look good," Loh said. "The Trump administration has made it clear that they want to repeal Obamacare, and if that occurs, the state of Maryland will take a direct budget hit of $1 billion … they also proposed reducing size of federal work force, which will have an incredible impact in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia."
State funding through the Affordable Care Act includes $1.2 billion from the federal government to cover Medicaid, as well as $200 million for additional services. But if the law is repealed, the state faces a lower budget and "people will get laid off, causing revenues for the state to go down," he said.
In January, Hogan announced his budget proposal for fiscal 2018 and said he planned to cut spending and eliminate a $750 million deficit with "no serious cuts."
Loh ended his statement by citing that the important issue is not money, but instead this university's values.
"What is at stake here — forget the budget, that's just dollars — for the university is dealing with the threat to the fundamental values of the higher education system," he said. "It is an assault on the very notion of academic freedom, of evidence-based thinking."
At the meeting, the senate also passed a revised policy on equal employment opportunity and affirmative action, along with four minor revisions to senate bylaws.
The Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Statement of Policy, which passed 106-3 with two abstentions, was formerly an interim policy this university adopted in spring 2016. The policy, which was first approved in 1991 and updated twice before last spring, says this university cannot discriminate against employees or applicants on the basis of characteristics including gender identity, sexual orientation and race, among others. Once Loh approves of the bill, it becomes permanent.
Policy changes by the Senate Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee eliminate duplicative language, add "genetic information" — which includes family health history, genetic test results and other genetic services — as one of the characteristics this university can't discriminate against.
The four senate bylaw revisions, which needed at least two-thirds of the senate's approval in order to pass, were approved to "either address specific issues that were raised through a proposal or that were raised by [the senate office staff] that were a misunderstanding or clarification problem," Senate Director Reka Montfort said, adding the revisions are "largely technical changes."
One revision added a section to the bylaws establishing a role for the Student Affairs Committee to "support the work of other Senate committees by assessing and communicating the student perspective on a range of issues affecting students," according to supporting documents. Another change adjusted the quorum — the number of present committee members needed in order to vote on issues during a meeting — from 11 members to 10.
As for making the quorum number, committee chair Adam Berger, who submitted this proposal to the senate last semester, noted attendance for Student Affairs Committee meetings has "historically been an issue." At most meetings, attendance has been one person short of the quorum number, he added.
"Committees can't vote on anything until they reach their quorum," Montfort said. "Not reaching it doesn't mean members can't discuss issues during a meeting, but when they need to approve the minutes from the last meeting or vote on recommendations, they aren't able to do that."
When a committee can't vote on proposals because they haven't reached their quorum, the vote gets pushed to the next meeting or is done over email, Montfort said.
"Not having the quorum doesn't inhibit our ability to vote since we can do it over email, but it inhibits the ability to have an engaged discussion of issues with multiple diverse voices," Berger said.
The other three revisions were adding an ombuds officer — someone who investigates complaints that can't be resolved through ordinary channels — to the Faculty Affairs Committee, changing the language of the specifications of the Faculty Affairs Committee and adding the Chief Diversity Officer and the Director of the Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct to the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee.