In an editorial published by the Baltimore Sun yesterday, three of Maryland’s four historically black college presidents rejected a proposal from the University of Maryland System to remedy its decades-long maintenance of a ‘separate but equal’ system of higher education for black and white students.
Bowie State University President Mickey Burnim, Coppin State University President Maria Thompson and University of Maryland – Eastern Shore President Juliette Bell outlined how short the state has fallen in its proposal to create high school summer programs to encourage enrollment in the state’s four black colleges, and a $50 million fund to support new joint degree programs between the black schools and proximate predominantly white institutions.
We certainly support collaboration, which is also strongly encouraged by the University System of Maryland. Each of our institutions has long standing partnerships with our sister institutions and is pursuing more. There is great value and efficiency in sharing resources and talent among institutions, all to benefit our students, faculty and staff. At the same time, we are committed to growing our institutions and attracting more non-African American students. We simply do not believe the state’s proposal for a few joint degrees and certificate programs has the depth or breadth to make a significant difference on our campuses.
The state also proposes a summer program for high-achieving high school students, to add to the existing array of summer programs we already administer. Presumably, the thinking is that such a program would help our institutions attract the “best and brightest” students by exposing them to our institutions during summer “academies.” Experience suggests, however, that the impact would likely be marginal, especially given the minimal funding offered to support this effort. Students are primarily interested in the variety and quality of academic programs we have and the physical space in which they will learn. Offering more high-demand, high-quality academic programs would have a much greater impact on our efforts to attract the best and brightest students and increase diversity at our institutions. We are perplexed, therefore, that the state’s proposal fails to take into account our thinking.
Morgan State University President David Wilson was not listed among the authors. Morgan, the state’s flagship HBCU, is not a part of the University of Maryland System, but is funded, in part, through state higher ed allocation and is subject to state approval for degree programming and audit review.