USM-H's modest enrollment was an element of a funding tug-of-war this year in the Maryland General Assembly. A Southern Maryland delegate trying to secure extra education money for his district argued that the Hagerstown campus gets more funding yet serves fewer students than other regional higher education centers.
The bulk of the USM-H budget for fiscal year 2009 was restored in the session's waning days.
Supporters have said the campus needs time to grow, just as USM's Shady Grove center in Rockville, Md., did.
In its fourth year, USM-H has expanded from three schools and 12 programs to six schools and 19 programs.
Tuesday, when the job cuts were announced, was the first day of the fiscal year.
The jobs are connected to campus operations, not individual academic programs, which are expected to expand further in coming years.
An estimate of how much money the job cuts saved wasn't immediately available.
One job that was cut was associate executive director, a position that JoEllen Barnhart held since before the campus opened.
Barnhart said she wasn't sure what she will do next, but remains committed to higher education and hopes the campus thrives.
"It becomes part of your heart and soul," she said. "There's a piece of me that will always be there and a piece of that place that will always be with me."
USM-H spokeswoman Erin Harman said the other eliminated positions were business services specialist, manager of building and grounds maintenance, program administrative specialist and library technician II.
Laid-off employees will get 90 days of pay and benefits, Warner said.
Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, said he's confident the employees will be called back as USM-H succeeds. In the meantime, he said, he'll help them find other jobs.
Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, said he was saddened by the layoffs, but they might help the campus create more programs.
"I think what we are talking about is a short-term loss for a long-term gain," he said.
USM-H opened with four employees. Harman said that number reached 18 in August 2007.
Warner said some employees were hired in anticipation of a larger student body.
However, "enrollment has grown less quickly than we thought that it would," said Jonathan C. Gibralter, the president of FSU, which administers USM-H. "Based upon the market of Hagerstown, Maryland, and the numbers of high school graduates and the numbers of students attending Hagerstown Community College and others, it just seems that the potential is greater."
With manufacturing and farming roots, many Washington County residents traditionally didn't try for college degrees, Munson said.
"That's not the way the world is anymore," he said. "Education is the name of the game."
USM-H enrollment figures
In nearly three years, enrollment at the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown increased about 7 percent, less than was expected.
Number of full- and part-time students
Fall 2005 356 Spring 2006 341
Fall 2006 344 Spring 2007 336
Fall 2007 396 Spring 2008 380
Source: Universty System of Maryland at Hagerstown