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Proposed Md. University Merger To Get Town Hall Meeting

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Combining campuses? Many questions and few answers linger from a proposed bill that would merge the University of Maryland College Park and the University of Maryland Baltimore. UMB students and faculty got a chance to pose their concerns at a special town hall meeting.

Gigi Barnett has more.

"Your candor will help me think through our position," said University of Baltimore President Jay Perman.

A plea for help from President Jay Perman to a packed auditorium of students, faculty and staff.

State lawmakers are considering a bill that would merge the UMB with University of Maryland College Park making the two one big institution. Concerns and questions came rolling in at a special town hall.

"Whenever you're talking about a merger, people get concerned about their jobs," said one.

"When a merger happens, what's going to happen to us?" said another.

"Our system is already imbalanced," said one. "There are a ton of institutions struggling with graduation rates. A lot of the funding that's being proposed in this bill could be a lot better utilized.

"We could combine and continue to prosper. If we don't combine, we could perish," said one student. "I want to get your feel, if you really feel it's that dire."

"I don't feel death coming over us," said one man.

But the bill, which has undergone several revisions, would bring deep changes.

Lawmakers believe combining College Park's flagship undergraduate programs with Baltimore's renowned research programs could set Maryland apart from other colleges in the state---or country, for that matter.

Plus, it could flush millions of grant dollars into the one university's coffers---but with a College Park headquarters, UMB students fear the Baltimore campus would forever lose its clout and standing in the community.

"I wonder if a merger with our campus and College Park would devalue our brand and take away our uniqueness," said one woman.

Students and faculty at both campuses agree that the language of the bill is murky and that's why the university chancellor is asking that the bill be reworked over the course of another year.

The bill just passed in the Senate and could be debated in the House as soon as Monday.

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