An amended version of the Strategic Partnership Act of 2016, which would combine this university with the University of Maryland, Baltimore to create one University of Maryland with two campuses, was voted out of committee Tuesday.
In efforts to appease critics of the proposed bill, the state Senate Budget and Taxation Committee removed a clause that would have allowed for the combined institution to have one president in the future and expanded funding for Towson University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, according to a Baltimore Sun report.
The amended version of the legislation passed 10-3. It is tentatively scheduled to move on to the full Senate on Wednesday.
This university showed its support for the original version of the bill with a Feb. 24 Student Government Association resolution.
In a state Senate hearing on the bill March 1, university officials and student leaders again voiced their strong approval for the potential union.
Still, University System of Maryland officials and the president of UMB expressed reservations over the bill — namely, concerning the effect it could have on other schools in the state and Baltimore City.
SGA President Patrick Ronk said he was pleased the bill made it out of committee and added the amended version made sense, given it would keep stakeholders happy while still moving ahead to the strategic partnership.
“The amendments aren’t surprising to me. There was a big push by UMB to remove the clause about two presidents becoming one president,” Ronk said. “And there had been some conversation about the system becoming imbalanced, so the additional appropriations will please people involved.”
However, Ronk said he was surprised by some of the opposition to the bill from student body presidents at the system’s institutions.
“There seems to be a fear that College Park will get better and leave everyone behind, which is kind of ridiculous to say — that you want to hold back your state’s flagship institution because you don’t want them to be too good,” he said. “I disagreed with a lot of their sentiments.”
University officials said they would continue monitoring the bill as it moves through the legislative process.
“We believe this bill builds on the success of our collaboration with the University of Maryland, Baltimore and would boost the economy of the state of Maryland,” a university spokesperson wrote in an email.