"We've got a really healthy exchange," said Janet Dudley-Eshbach, president of Salisbury.

Still, there are challenges. One year, the schools started on different days, which caused a logistical nightmare for some students. Some staffers prefer to work independently, and there's a tremendous amount of time involved to coordinate efforts.

And for some students, the institutional differences can be difficult to navigate. Heather Goldsborough, a 21-year-old white freshman at UMES, said it was "a bit of a culture shock" for her to attend a historically black university, but that she has been treated kindly by the school community.

"Things are not perfect, both our institutions have problems," Dudley-Eshbach said, adding that collaboration "is both the most effective and efficient way to operate and serve the state of Maryland, and we think that we can achieve more collaborating than if we compete."

tricia.bishop@baltsun.com

nadavis@baltsun.com

Select UMES/Salisbury collaborations

The schools offer dual-degree programs in biology and environmental/marine science, and in social work/sociology, as well as a collaborative Master of Arts in teaching.

The Salisbury Film Society, hosted by Salisbury University, offers complementary tickets to University of Maryland Eastern Shore students.

Music faculty from UMES have been guest artists at Salisbury and conducted master classes.

Salisbury and UMES have collaborated on winter-term trips to Paris.

Salisbury lacrosse teams have participated in a study with UMES physical therapy and education faculty on concussion management.

University of Maryland Eastern Shore

Founded: 1886

Origins: Soon after its founding, it became the land-grant university for the state's African-Americans, emphasizing agriculture, home economics and the mechanical arts.

Enrollment, fall 2012: 3,758 undergraduates, and 696 graduate students

Racial breakdown: 69 percent African-American, 15 percent white

Pell Grant recipients: 59 percent of the undergraduates

Salisbury University

Founded: 1925

Origins: Teachers college

Enrollment, fall 2012: 7,969 undergraduates, 688 graduate students

Racial breakdown: 78 percent white, 11 percent African-American

Pell Grant recipients: 24 percent of the undergraduates