When Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer began talking last year about revamping the state's college system, he said one of his main goals was eliminating wasteful overlaps of academic programs at neighboring campuses.
But on the eve of the first major legislative hearing on Schaefer's plan, the state agency responsible for approving new academic programs has analyzed its track record and concluded that little duplication exists.
The State Board of Higher Education has just finished a study of the number of duplicated programs at schools within the state's five regions.
The greatest duplication, it found, exists in the Baltimore area, which has 15 colleges and universities, the state's greatest concentration, and a 30 percent overlap of academic specialties. Among the five colleges in the Washington suburbs, 12 percent of the academic programs were offered at more than one campus, the study found.
"I think we've done great," said Sheldon H. Knorr, Maryland's higher education commissioner. He said that many schools clamor for permission to start popular majors, such as business and computer science. But in the dozen years of the state board's existence, he said, it has managed to prevent much overlap among nearby colleges, aside from undergraduate, liberal arts programs that form the core of most curriculums.
Under Schaefer's plan, the higher education board would be replaced with a statewide commission with the authority to eliminate academic programs in certain instances -- a power the present board does not have.