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University System of Maryland Board of Regents adopts new strategic plan

The University System of Maryland Board of Regents has voted to adopt a new strategic plan for the next decade that aims to raise the state’s college completion rate, increase the number of science and technology graduates, and incorporate more technology into student learning.

Developed over the past year, the plan includes goals and possible strategies under five main themes that provide a foundation for more individualized plans the system’s institutions will develop by mid-January.

The difference between the new plan and the old plan, Chancellor William “Brit” Kirwan said, is a strong emphasis on how the system is going to help deal with critical issues facing society, such as the current economic situation.

In a presentation Friday at Coppin State University to the board, Kirwan identified three “emerging themes” in the plan.

One theme focuses on helping the state reach its goal of 55 percent of the population 25 and older having either a 2-year or 4-year college degree, a target reflected in education goals set by the Obama administration.

To raise the state’s college completion rate, the new plan calls for measures including increased enrollment, closing achievement gaps among student groups and accepting more community college transfers.

With 70 percent of the bachelor’s degrees in the state achieved through a University System of Maryland institution, “it falls to the system to make [increased college completion] happen,” Kirwan said.

The plan notes several challenges the system will face as it pursues this goal, including a changing demographic with more minority and part-time students, as well as financial obstacles for students.

The plan not only calls for an increased completion rate, but also “the right mix of degrees” that strengthen the state’s work force. Under this second theme, the plan details a goal to generate 40 percent more graduates in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.

The last emerging theme includes the need to incorporate more technology into teaching methods through measures such as more online courses.

The two remaining themes include goals to continue using the system’s resources effectively and maintaining a high level of quality of education at its institutions.

Clifford M. Kendall, chairman of the board of regents, said he was impressed by how the plan carefully addresses issues such as the economy and the state’s workforce.

“We’re doing the same things that the state needs to have done and we’re doing it through higher education for the benefit of the citizens of the state,” Kendall said.

University of Baltimore President Robert L. Bogomolny joined other university presidents in voicing support for the plan. Though it contains ambitious goals, Bogomolny said the plan “feels right.”