Bowie State University
FY 2014 Operating Budget Testimony
House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education and Economic Development
February 13, 2013
Senate Budget and Taxation Subcommittee on Education, Business, and Administration
February 14, 2013
Mickey L. Burnim, Ph.D.
Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, members of the subcommittee. On behalf of the students, faculty, administration and staff of Bowie State University, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak to you today in support of the Governor's FY 2014 proposed operating budget for the University System of Maryland (USM) of which Bowie State is a member institution.
First, I would like to thank this subcommittee, along with Governor O'Malley and the entire Maryland General Assembly for its steadfast support for education. It is indeed a privilege to live and work in a state where education is such a high priority; both K-12 and higher education. It is certainly no accident that Maryland's school system has been rated number one in the nation. Your commitment to providing the necessary funding to ensure that students have access to the highest quality education is commendable. It is only through your strong support that we are able to provide high quality postsecondary educational experiences for students and prepare them for the challenges of the global workplace. Your support has enabled us to continue efforts to graduate more students faster; produce more graduates in high demand STEM fields; and bring innovation and a renewed commitment to excellence to the work we do, all while increasing our footprint in the community we serve. I am indeed proud to be a part of Maryland's education system.
This is my 6th time testifying before you on behalf of Bowie State University and my 7th year as president. During past years, with your support, we have made significant progress toward meeting the goals set forth in our Strategic Plan. We have grown our enrollment and added new degree programs and facilities, even as the state faced serious economic challenges. Your support and the support of the Governor allow us to fulfill our mission to provide access while maintaining affordability. We take our mission very seriously.
I am excited to share some of our recent successes and future goals, along with plans and challenges we face as we work to respond to the state's and the nation's ambitious college completion agenda.
As many of you know, Bowie State University began nearly 150 years ago as a normal school. Today we offer some 23 bachelor's degree programs, 19 master's programs, and 2 doctoral degrees, along with several certificate programs. As a comprehensive university, we continue to look for opportunities to expand our offerings, not simply for expansion sake, but to respond in a very focused way to the state's workforce needs and the demands of a diverse student population. At the same time, we remain committed to excellence in teaching, which is at the heart of what we do. Our faculty's primary interest and passion is teaching. That passion and focus propel our students' success. As we endeavor to provide rigorous academic instruction, we are equally committed to providing excellent support services for our students. We are invested in their success.
Consistent with the Governor's goal of ensuring that 55 percent of adults older than 25 have college degrees by 2025, we are working aggressively to recruit, retain and graduate more students. A major focus of our effort is improving retention and increasing our six-year graduation rate. While we have seen improvements in our graduation rates and enjoy a second year retention rate that is the highest among HBCUs, we are acutely aware that we must do better if we are to realize our very ambitious goals of raising our graduation rate and closing the achievement gap between Bowie State students and all students within USM.
Workforce Development and Academic Excellence
Over the past two years, our faculty has worked hard to maintain academic rigor and enhance the quality of our degree programs. Those efforts have been recognized by various accrediting bodies and other external sources including Forbes magazine which included Bowie in its listing of America's Top Colleges.
The Middle States Commission on Colleges and Universities reaffirmed the university's accreditation in 2011. We are continuing a 58-year legacy of accredited teacher education programs with the recent reaffirmation by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Accreditation for our growing nursing and computer science programs was reaffirmed in 2012 as well. In addition, we earned accreditation for our popular master of public administration program.
We have a strong commitment to graduating students in the STEM disciplines who will be prepared to meet the state's critical workforce needs. We have the capacity to make a significant contribution and our capacity is building steadily. In 2011, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency designated Bowie State University a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education. Since then, we have secured over $1 million in federal grants to support research and training and we have established a mobile security and forensics laboratory; a cloud computing laboratory; and a network security research laboratory. Our faculty is engaged in scholarly pursuits in the field of cyber security education. Our computer science and natural science faculty and students participated in the 2012 USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C., where they demonstrated robotics programming, virtual reality gaming and chemistry analysis. I am delighted that we graduated our first computer science doctoral student last May.
Our nursing program is strong and continues to grow. We are working hard to enhance it, in spite of the limitations of a small facility with inadequate laboratory space. We recently began offering the core part of our RN to BSN program online. We believe this online platform will help many students who are already working in the field but who seek a baccalaureate degree. In addition, this past fall, we began offering the family nurse practitioner concentration of our MSN program at the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center, and we will be bringing the nurse educator program to Southern Maryland as well, thanks to incentive funds that the legislature appropriated to USM. We look forward to maintaining a strong presence in Southern Maryland and making a significant contribution to workforce development in the critical field of nursing. We are aware of the shortage of nursing professionals in our state. Unfortunately, we are unable to expand our capacity too far beyond our current enrollment because we simply do not have adequate space. We are in the planning phase for a new natural sciences building, which will provide more space -- a critically important part of our efforts to produce more nurses and other STEM graduates.
We launched a new bachelor's degree program in criminal justice in 2010, and it has become one of our fastest growing undergraduate programs. Our faculty and students are very excited about the new criminalistics lab where students are exposed to cutting edge forensic techniques and crime scene analysis.
We are also responding to the region's workforce needs with our Project Management Graduate Certificate Program. The Project Management Institute, an international organization that sets global standards for project management programs, recently designated Bowie State as a registered education provider, a unique distinction.
Partnerships have been an important part of our strategy for strengthening the institution and providing even greater opportunities for our students. I was pleased to sign a five-year agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide academic and practical experiences for Bowie State students through internships, mentoring programs and research projects. This exciting partnership will provide our students with real-world experiences that will help prepare them for careers in a number of growing fields. Moreover, our faculty will have opportunities to collaborate with EPA scientists to enhance our science curricula. We look forward working with the EPA.
Our partnership with the City of Bowie resulted in the recent opening of the Bowie Business Innovation Center on our campus. This Center serves as an incubator for local small businesses while providing internship opportunities for our students as well as opportunities for consulting and collaboration with faculty in the College of Business.
We opened our new Fine & Performing Arts Center last spring. This state-of-the-art facility has begun to transform the campus. The new facility is helping to enhance significantly the teaching and learning experiences in art, music, visual communication & digital media arts, theater and dance. It has also drawn thousands of visitors to our campus from the surrounding community. We are extremely proud of this magnificent space.
Through the Maryland Center at Bowie State, we forged a unique partnership with Verizon and Lockheed Martin to form the National Emergency Preparedness & Response (NEPR) Research Center. This unique center will facilitate the collection and dissemination of medical information and other data to assist the state and federal governments in responding to natural disasters, pandemics or other catastrophic emergencies. Our faculty and computer science students will assist in building the infrastructure for medical and biosurveillance capabilities.
The University remains committed to serving students who have served our country by making their transition to and from college as simple as possible. With a grant from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, we were able to create a Veterans Center - a one-stop shop for veterans to help simplify their college experience.
College Completion through Innovation, Engagement and Service
We recognize that increasing the number of college degree-holders is critically important to ensuring that the state meet its workforce needs. Bowie State is playing a significant role in helping to achieve Governor O'Malley's goal of having 55% of adult Marylanders obtain college degrees by 2025. Our approach is consistent with our mission and our commitment to providing access to Marylanders. Indeed, over 90 percent of Bowie State University students are Maryland residents. We are committed to ensuring that our students persist through graduation, but we cannot fulfill this commitment without continued support.
While our second-year retention rate and six-year graduation rate are the highest since 2005, we are strongly committed to raising these numbers. The campus community has embraced as a university-wide priority the goal of increasing our six-year graduation rate and closing the gap between the overall graduation rate of USM students and Bowie State University students.
One significant part of our strategy to graduate more students more quickly is to minimize the numbers of students who spend precious class time taking and retaking one or more remedial courses. Over 70% of incoming freshmen at Bowie State University require remediation in one or more subjects. We have found that having students who need remediation in English, reading or math to complete those courses during an intensive summer session is critical. This early intervention - our Bulldog Academy - helps to ensure that students begin their academic career in a state of "readiness," with the best possible chance of completing their degree within six years. We are seeing good results, but our challenge is to grow this program to reach more students. Our plan is to ratchet up this program beginning in the summer 2013. The Governor's FY 14 budget provides enhancement funding through USM for us to do so. I hope you will support the Governor's budget request.
I applaud your efforts to ensure that Maryland's higher education system remains among the most affordable in the country. Unfortunately, the fact remains that financial aid continues to be a major factor in many students' successful completion of their postsecondary degree. We need to increase and strategically target financial aid if we are to retain and graduate more students. While more than 80 percent of Bowie State students receive some form of financial assistance, less then half our students are eligible for Pell grants. Our students have significant financial need. Each year we see students "stopping" out because they cannot pay their tuition and fees. It is especially disheartening for me when those who stop-out are more than halfway towards earning their degree. Students who have accumulated 60 or more credits have a strong likelihood of graduating. We want to provide financial assistance to these students thereby removing another barrier to their degree attainment. Again, the Governor's FY 14 allowance will support our efforts to provide this "gap" funding for some of these students.
Related to this effort, we received from MHEC a $50,000 grant that will help us locate and re-enroll students who stopped out after earning 90 or more credits. We have already begun the work of tracking these students and hope to begin re-enrolling them in the fall 2013.
In addition to providing financial assistance, we also focus on intensive support services, including academic advising and tutoring. Our approach includes a centralized Academic Advisement Center as well as retention coordinators in each of our four academic colleges and one in our student life unit. We have expanded tutoring services on campus so that any student who needs help can find it easily. We try to be as "intrusive" as practicable with our students, keeping track of their progress and empowering them to take ownership of their academic careers. We also revamped our freshmen orientation program in an effort to set the tone for students as early as possible. All of these initiatives, we believe, will help us retain our students and move them toward graduation. We look forward to your continued support of these important efforts.
I mentioned that we are invested in our students' success. That commitment often extends beyond our outstanding faculty. For many Bowie State University administrators and staff, it is a personal commitment. Senior staff members and members of my cabinet serve as mentors to many students. I launched a special initiative aimed specifically at enriching the college experience for our male students and helping them remain focused on graduating. The Male Initiative has been a rewarding experience for faculty and staff who serve as mentors, and an empowering experience for our young men.
Soon we will open a new Student Center, replacing the old Wiseman Center that dates back to 1966. The new center will be located in the heart of the campus and will offer our students a larger bookstore, expanded dining facilities, meeting and conference spaces. It will be a major focal point for the campus and a key part of our effort to enhance campus life for our students. Studies have shown that students who are actively engaged in campus life are more likely to persist and to graduate. This new center is another important part of our retention efforts. I am very excited that it will be completed in time for the opening of the 2013 - 2014 academic year.
Student engagement is extremely critical. We are committed to actively working with our students to ensure that they remain focused on the ultimate goal of graduating. Our work begins at the beginning of the academic year. This past fall, we launched a completely revamped new student orientation program aimed at engaging students and encouraging them to take responsibility for their success at Bowie State University. My message to new students is that they should plan their academic career to ensure that they graduate in four years!
As part of a delegation of university presidents, I participated in a mission to Brazil sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. As a result of that mission, we are actively pursuing opportunities for our students to study in Brazil and for Bowie State to enroll several Brazilian students perhaps as early as next fall. I am excited about the potential this international exchange has for enhancing teaching and learning at Bowie State University. I have also traveled to China and am excited about the possibilities for our faculty and students to engage in exchanges. We are currently in conversations with Chinese universities interested in establishing both exchange and enrollment possibilities for students in Computer Science.
Improving our graduation rates is my highest priority. In addition to the important strategies we have been using, we recognize that we must be willing to explore new and innovative approaches in order to improve student outcomes. We do not believe that one single program or initiative will get us there. Rather, our approach must be as comprehensive as possible, with the goal of transforming the educational experience for our students.
The University System of Maryland is a leader in academic transformation. Bowie State University has been engaged in curricular transformation and innovation efforts with the specific goal of improving student success. Specifically, we see great promise in course redesign - using technology to transform key courses to achieve higher levels of learning. Our faculty has redesigned several courses with encouraging results. Our goal is to focus on those courses that present the greatest barriers to our students graduating in six years, including remedial math.
Transforming the way we teach mathematics in particular will not only help those students who come to us needing remediation, but it will help our STEM majors persist so that we can graduate more of them as well. This is an important initiative and one for which we need your support.
Our students are engaging in interesting learning experiences outside the classroom and even outside the country. Through our Center for Global Engagement, several students have studied in Ethiopia and Ghana. Students in the natural sciences have conducted research in the Dominican Republic and Peru to assess medicinal uses of native plants, and our criminal justice students traveled to India as part of a Southeast Asia cultural immersion program to prepare students for the intelligence workforce. These experiences have been both exciting and enriching for our students and faculty.
Bowie State University and other USM institutions in collaboration with ITHAKA are studying the effectiveness of MOOCs, assessing the learning outcomes and levels of student success. We are particularly interested in exploring the potential of MOOCs in addressing the academic needs of students requiring developmental mathematics. We are optimistic that MOOCs can improve the quality of our developmental mathematics program and also enhance the learning of those students enrolled in those developmental math courses.
Finally, we are working very hard to create a culture of success at Bowie State, where everyone is invested in the success of our students. We all play a role in building in and maintaining a campus environment where we set high expectations for our students and strong accountability for ourselves. Our staff is committed to providing outstanding "customer service" and going above and beyond their normal duties to ensure that our students remain enrolled and complete their degree. This change in culture, I believe, will help us reach our goal.
Bowie State University is grateful for the support it receives from the state. We are committed to being good stewards of the resources the legislature appropriates. We are also committed to leveraging those resources with private funds. The University is nearing the completion of our first-ever $15 million, Believe, Invest, Grow (BIG) campaign, having raised over $14 million. These funds help us provide more scholarships for students and enhance the classroom experience for them.
In addition, our faculty has secured million of dollars in federal grants. These funds support research and innovation in the classroom. I am pleased that government and private partners are consistently investing in Bowie State University.
The University has also been a responsible steward of a precious resource - the environment. Led by our Climate Commitment Coordinating Committee, the university community has been engaged in numerous activities designed to raise awareness about sustainability among students, faculty and staff. We have reduced our carbon footprint by 15 percent since 2007. We are grateful for the support we received recently from the Verizon Foundation -- a $25,000 grant will support our efforts as we work toward carbon neutrality at Bowie State University. In addition, we are on track to attain LEED-gold status for our new Student Center.
In just a couple of years, Bowie State University will celebrate our sesquicentennial. We have much of which to be proud. We are aggressively pursuing our goals and fully committed to the state's college completion agenda. As an affordable, convenient higher education access portal, Bowie State continues to be an attractive choice for Marylanders. With high-quality academic programs, outstanding faculty and committed staff, we are well-positioned to perform an even greater role. Your support is critical to our success. Thank you for all you have done to support higher education in general and Bowie State University in particular.
Bowie State University
University System of Maryland
Responses to DLS Recommendations and Requests for Comment
Response to USM Recommended Reductions:
DLS recommends reducing USM's fiscal 2014 general fund appropriation made for the purpose to fund CSC [Current Services Costs] by $10 million.
DLS also recommends reducing USM's fiscal 2014 general fund appropriation by $8 million.
Bowie State University opposes both recommendations to reduce FY 14 appropriations to USM. A reduction in our appropriation for current services costs would have a detrimental effect on Bowie State University's ability to provide basic services and support as well as cover mandatory costs. In addition, our ability to increase financial aid to students would be severely limited. A reduction of $8 million provided in the Governor's Allowance for USM programmatic enhancements would limit Bowie State's ability to make progress on critical priorities, including efforts to increase our graduation rates and contribute to the state's priority of increasing the number of adult Marylanders with college degrees. Bowie State proposes to use its share of the enhancement funding to increase targeted financial aid to students who have a high likelihood to graduate, and to provide financial assistance to enable more students to participate in our summer program - Bulldog Academy. With more than 70 percent of incoming first-time, full-time freshman needing remedial coursework, this summer program provides an opportunity for students to take necessary remedial courses before they begin the regular academic year. This is critically important to our efforts to increase time-to-degree and close the achievement gap. In addition, the recommended reductions would severely limit our ability to pursue important course redesign efforts in mathematics, thereby strengthening a core element of STEM education at Bowie State.
DLS recommends restricting the remaining $14.9 million of USM's fiscal 2014 appropriation for program enhancements until USM submits a report detailing specifically how these funds will be used and metrics that will be used to measure the progress or results of the activities funded with State funds.
Bowie State University fully supports accountability measures and would accept appropriate performance metrics and reporting requirements for any enhancement funds provided.
Responses to Requests for Comments:
The President should comment on why BSU significantly outperforms its peers who were statistically chosen for having many similar characteristics.
Without doing a comparative analysis, we cannot speak directly to why our student outcomes are better than our peers. We can report, however, that, consistent with the enrollment management literature, BSU is working hard to improve our academic support infrastructure to aid in student success, and we are also working to strengthen significantly the campus culture to be more focused on student success. We believe that our improved numbers are a reflection of the cumulative effect of these efforts.
Bowie State University's progress in improving retention and graduation rates is driven by a systemic commitment to academic success. The University has implemented a number of strategies to improve retention, progression and graduation rates. These strategies include: restructuring the Academic Advisement Center by focusing and expanding services to first- and second- year students and to select sub-groups, piloting an early academic alert system; placing retention coordinators in each of the Colleges, and enhancing supplemental instruction and tutoring, and faculty development. The University is now in the process of engaging the entire campus community to move these rates to the next level. A number of initiatives are being planned including: reengineering administrative processes, improving academic advisement, continuing academic transformation, and developing effective classrooms.
Other reasons related to BSU's success include continued state support during the fiscal downturn, lower rates of in-state tuition and fee growth between FY 2009 and FY 2012, and lower percentage of the freshmen class receiving Pell Grants.
The President should comment on what BSU is doing to increase financial aid literacy and responsible borrowing among new students, such as encouraging students to maximize the use of subsidized federal loans before taking out private loans.
Bowie State University is committed to helping our students persist through graduation and minimize their debt to the extent possible. Our Office of Financial Aid participates in numerous educational outreach programs in high schools and churches. We also provide students and parents extensive information on all financial aid programs through our website, including the net price calculator which can be used for planning purposes. All students are required to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to qualify for any form of financial aid. Students are required to utilize all federal sources prior to pursuing private funding. We provide one-on-one counseling to explain options for students to finance their education.
The President should comment on whether stronger results should be expected from the Bulldog Academy given the resources focused on these students.
The Bulldog Academy is a successful program. For the 2011 cohort, 84 percent of the students successfully completed developmental math and all students passed pre-calculus. Of those students needing developmental English, 75 percent successfully completed it during the summer. Seventy-six percent of the students who took English 101 passed. At the end of their freshman year, 73 percent of the students from the 2011 Bulldog Academy cohort had a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher.
The summer 2012 cohort of 26 students also performed well. The developmental English pass rate was even higher than the 2011 cohort (86% vs. 75%). The success rate for English 101 was comparable at 72%. The developmental math pass rate was higher than the 2011 cohort (94% vs. 84%) and the pre-calculus pass rate continued to be 100%.
The Bulldog Academy has in fact been successful. Students are completing developmental coursework and beginning college-level courses in the fall semester. To be sure, those students in the 2008 cohort did not graduate four years later in 2012. However, it should be recalled that the students in the Bulldog Academy were high risk students. Our challenge was to improve their academic skills so that they would not be delayed in their matriculation. We will deem the program successful if they are able to graduate in 4.5 or 5 years. DLS' Exhibit 12 shows that Bulldog Academy students earned 30.4 credits v. 22 credits for non-academy students. Hence, the Bulldog Academy students were sophomores after the first year whereas the non-academy students were still freshmen. That, too, shows the positive impact of the academy.
The President should comment on how BSU may increase enrollment in Bulldog Academy and what the enrollment target is for summer 2013.
Bowie State University is planning for an enrollment of 135 students in the 2013 Session of the Bulldog Academy. We have already begun an active recruitment campaign. Each student attending an Open House receives information regarding the Bulldog Academy. In addition, the Admissions Office shares information about Bulldog Academy with applicants. While we are working extremely hard to ensure significantly higher participation, our plans depend upon receiving the requested funding in the Governor's FY 14 Allowance which will allow us to further subsidize the cost of the program to the students, and serve more students.
DLS Analysis of Bowie State University FY '14 Proposed Budget
(Part of Governor's Allowance for the University System of Maryland)
Each year in January, the Governor submits to the legislature a budget bill containing the Governor's request for appropriations for each state agency (Governor's Allowance). Bowie State University's proposed budget allocation for FY 2014 is included in the Governor's Allowance for the University System of Maryland.
As part of the legislature's review of the Governor's budget request, the Department of Legislative Services (DLS) provides analyses of each state agency's operations and requests the head of the agency to address any issues. These analyses appear on the Department of Budget & Management's website. Click here to see the DLS' FY 14 analysis for Bowie State. Each agency must submit responses to any issues or questions raised in the analysis, typically within 48 hours, and those issues and questions may be further discussed during the agency's budget hearing before the house and senate budget subcommittees.
During the 90-day legislative session, both the House and the Senate must consider and ultimately pass the same budget bill. The legislature may not add to the Governor's proposed operating budget. If the legislature reduces or restricts any funds in the USM proposed budget, those reductions will be distributed among the USM institutions. Each approved budget runs from July 1 through June 30.