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Regents OK Collaboration Plan For Md. Universities

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- The University System of Maryland regents approved a plan Thursday to allow two of the state's universities to share resources and combine programs.

System Chancellor William Kirwan said the collaboration between the University of Maryland, Baltimore and the system's flagship campus in College Park will attract new research funding and create jobs in Maryland.

"I think this is a very important moment for the University System of Maryland and, indeed, the entire state," Kirwan said. "Today with your approval, we are unleashing a collaboration between two research and academic powerhouses that will have a profound effect on our state and the nation."

A plan drafted by Kirwan, UMB president Jay Perman and UMCP president Wallace Loh outlines how the universities will work together to oversee joint programs and develop new educational offerings.

The College Park campus has more than 37,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The Baltimore campus has more than 6,000 students and is home to seven professional and graduate schools.

"It has been so easy to get this going. I think people think it's the right thing to do between two universities," Perman said. "There is obviously enthusiasm at the top. Wallace and I are working very well together and that is effused through the organization."

A steering committee appointed by Perman and Loh will oversee the collaboration. Kirwan said he expects the program to require a $45 million operating budget, which he expects will be supplemented by generous grant funding and private fundraising.

His proposal also calls for combining research efforts in bioscience and biotechnology with academic programs in health, law, human services, science, technology and math, and social sciences at a University System campus in Montgomery County.

It also calls for combining the two schools' master of public health programs and allowing students to easily enroll in classes on both campuses.

The plan was originally floated as a complete merger of the schools by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller as a means of elevating the schools in national standing. Regents rejected that idea in December.

"We need to collaborate and President Miller saw that. Maryland's economy is an innovation economy," Gov. Martin O'Malley said at a press briefing following the regents' meeting. "The talents, the skills, the ingenuity, the education of our people, these things are all the prime ingredients of that innovation economy."

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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