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USM institutions make plea for capital funds

Without a new facility in which to house the program, the School of Pharmacy at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore could lose its accreditation, the university’s president said Monday.

So President Juliette B. Bell asked the University System of Maryland Board of Regents Monday to fast-track funding for the new building; the university was previously projected to receive more than $50 million for the construction of the new building in 2024.

Leadership of the other institutions in the university system also briefed the board on their priorities for the fiscal 2017 to fiscal 2026 capital budget plan. Each institution’s requests will be considered during the development of the capital improvement plan that will go before state lawmakers in next year’s General Assembly session.

An evaluation team recently reported that since the UMES School of Pharmacy occupied space in six buildings and two temporary trailers, it didn’t allow faculty and students enough interaction outside of class and might not be able to accommodate new faculty.

Bell asked that the board provide planning funds for the new building in fiscal 2017 and construction funding in fiscal 2018 and fiscal 2019.

The school currently admits about 60 students per class, but a new building would allow the university to increase that number, Bell said.

University of Maryland, College Park President Wallace D. Loh joked to the regents that he wasn’t asking for more money, he was just wanted the board to accelerate funding from fiscal 2018 to 2017. Loh asked for his campus to be given a total of $68.7 million in 2017 and another $5 million in fiscal 2018 rather than 2019, as previously planned, so the construction of two new buildings could be kept on a schedule agreed to by key donors to those projects.

The new A. James Clark Hall, projected to open in 2017, will house expanded biomedical facilities within the university’s school of engineering; the Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Innovation will include space for 3D printing and robotics as well as the development of virtual reality applications, from which a number of new startup ventures are expected to emerge, Loh said.

Towson University Interim President Timothy J.L. Chandler asked the board to continue funding for a new science facility, expected to cost a total of $189.2 million. The allocation of those funds is currently expected to be spread out over four years, from fiscal 2017 to fiscal 2020.

“We are simply out of space for the demand we now have for the sciences at Towson,” Chandler said.

Undergraduate enrollment in Towson’s Fisher College of Science and Mathematics has increased by 130 percent over the past 20 years, but the college’s existing science building hasn’t change, according to the university.

Towson also asked for continued funding of a $156.4 million health professions building, projected to be completed in the fall of 2021, and a three-year, $108.7 million renovation of its visual and communications technology facilities to be completed in the fall of 2023.

Renovation and improvement of the campus’s electrical infrastructure was the highest priority for the University of Maryland, Baltimore, said President Jay A. Perman.

The university is requesting $82 million over the next 10 years to construct a new central substation and make other electrical improvements and is also asking for $10 million per year during that period for other campus-wide infrastructure improvements, according to board documents.