Blair Lee worries {"The College Park Campus Is Under Siege," Close to Home, Sept. 13} that the University of Maryland's College Park campus may be moved to Baltimore. Lee can relax. He is quite right that Baltimore needs a major public research university presence to continue its economic growth. However, he overlooks the fact that the University of Maryland already has such a presence in Baltimore. The university operates two campuses and a major research hospital in the Baltimore area: the professional schools campus and medical system in downtown -- which, by the way, is considerably older than the upstart campus in the D.C. suburbs -- and the university's youngest and fastest growing campus, UMBC, located just southwest of the city line in Catonsville.

UMBC enrolls some 10,000 students in 27 bachelor's, 23 master's and 17 doctoral programs, and includes schools of arts and sciences, engineering, nursing and social work. UMBC's engineering school is affiliated with the engineering school at College Park, and the nursing and social work schools are affiliated with their counterparts at the professional schools campus in downtown Baltimore. In addition, UMBC and the professional schools campus share a merged graduate program, so studentscan easily take courses on both campuses and study in a variety of interdisciplinary fields (health policy, for example).

Lee notes with alarm the possibility that College Park's School of Architecture might be moved to Baltimore. This is not under consideration. What is being discussed, very preliminarily, is the possibility that, like engineering, College Park's architecture program might also be extended to one of the university's campuses in metropolitan Baltimore, if this can be done in cooperation with the existing architecture program at Morgan State University. Such a move would only work to strengthen both programs and would not require destroying the one to build the other.

The two University of Maryland campuses in the Greater Baltimore area already actively support the development and growth of high-tech industry in the region, just as the College Park campus supports such development in the D.C. suburbs. College Park and Baltimore constitute the two principal centers of University of Maryland activity in the state, although the university has programs in every county in Maryland. The professional schools campus has recently completed an economic impact study, which demonstrates that for every state dollar invested in it, the campus returns an additional three dollars to the region in terms of its sponsored research and service activities.

The UMBC campus also contributes substantially. Its Chemistry Department recently received a million-dollar National Science Foundation grant, which will be used to create the largest center for mass spectrometry on the East Coast. Its applied molecular biology program has pioneered in the preparation of professionals trained in recombinant DNA techniques. The graduates of the program find ready employment in the biotechnology companies in the region. This program operates in close cooperation with UMBC's graduate program in chemical engineering, bridging the gap between bio-tech products developed in test-tube quantities in the research laboratory and those batch-produced for industrial purposes. At the same time, the campus, with its Shakespeare on Wheels program, and its Camerata, offers outstanding cultural attractions to the Baltimore region.

Cooperation is the name of the game in higher education today, and the University of Maryland system leads the way. Let me reassure Blair Lee that the College Park Terrapins and the UMBC Retrievers can and do peacefully coexist, even when some outsiders are crying wolf.

-- Adam Yarmolinsky is provost of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.