Members of the University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents moved to protect the accreditation of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s School of Pharmacy Thursday by making a new building the campus’s top capital priority.
The change makes it more likely that the institution will receive funds for a new building in the fiscal 2017 capital budget, officials said.
Juliette B. Bell, president of UMES, asked the regents in May to fast-track funding for the new building, which was previously scheduled to receive $50 million in construction funds in 2024.
An evaluation recently reported that the school, currently spread out over several buildings, was in danger of losing its accreditation if it wasn’t given its own facility to encourage more student and faculty interaction and allow for growth of the program, Bell said.
Funding for the school of pharmacy will replace money previously slated for the construction of a new library building, which has been pushed back three years, according to budget documents.
The board’s finance committee voted Thursday to move up the $50 million allotment to 2019; the change must now be approved by the full board before being submitted to Gov. Larry Hogan for consideration when he submits his fiscal 2017 budget proposal to lawmakers next year, said Joseph F. Vivona, the university system’s chief operating officer and vice chancellor for administration and finance.
The school of pharmacy was a “dynamic” program that needed to be prepared for growth, said Gary L. Attman, the board’s treasurer. “Demand tremendously exceeds supply,” he said
The spending plan approved by the committee also includes funds to begin upgrading the electrical system at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, which officials say is outdated and lacks the redundancies needed to prevent an outage from shutting down the campus.
While the committee was able to make the change for the UMES, it did not grant a request from the University of Maryland, College Park to advance funding for two new buildings for its schools of engineering and computer science, officials said.
UMCP President Wallace D. Loh asked the regents in May for his campus to be given a total of $68.7 million in fiscal 2017 rather than fiscal 2018 and another $5 million in fiscal 2018 rather than 2019.
But granting that request would likely have meant removing another project from the capital budget list, and dipping into a fund balance to pay for the request have had a “serious but temporary” impact on the system’s credit rating and overall financial strength, Vivona said.