There is a battle going on today. A battle that doesn’t obtain headlines on CNN or MSNBC. A battle that does not get much attention in our own communities, but will carry such a grand significance to our HBCUs future. The battle is happening in Maryland. The battle is for the future of Bowie State University, Coppin State University, Morgan State University, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
The battle is taking place in the courtrooms, as the HBCU ‘Equality’ lawsuit enters into its sixth year (but some of us never heard about it until last December). Former Morgan State University president Earl S. Richardson’s testimony in the case revealed the depth of hypocrisy in Maryland’s higher education system. The Afro has more on the proceedings in the lawsuit:
“Earl S. Richardson envisioned a plan that would have allowed both his predominantly Black Morgan State University in Baltimore and largely White Towson University 15 miles away to jointly offer a high-quality MBA program that would have the additional benefit of making their universities more racially diverse.
“Morgan proposed a three-plus-two program that would be a collaborative effort between Morgan State and Towson State. What we said is that students in their third year and their fourth year of Towson could begin to take courses in the MBA program at Morgan that could then be used to satisfy part of the requirements for the baccalaureate at Towson, as well as go toward the MBA at Morgan, and they would end up in five years with both the baccalaureate and the master’s degree or the MBA,” said Richardson, who returned to the stand as a rebuttal witness.
Instead, Towson proposed a program that would add the University of Baltimore to the mix and ultimately grant Towson the ability to award MBA degrees, state authorization that Morgan and Bowie State University had at the time. After Morgan rejected that proposal, the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) approved a MBA program in 2005 operated jointly by Towson and the University of Baltimore.”
Once Towson took this course of action, Morgan’s white MBA enrollment dropped significantly from 50%…to 2. This action was defined by the lawsuit as “the unnecessary duplication of HBCU academic programs by geographically proximate TWIs [traditionally White institutions].”
What the four HBCUs are fighting for is economic equality. The facts are there right in front of us: the traditionally white institutions are receiving far more state funding than the historically black universities. This is not something new; surely the University of Arkansas receives more state funding than the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff.
The Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education Inc. is fighting for their universities, fighting for the economic lifeline so these HBCUs can still stand and still compete with their contemporaries. More importantly, they are fighting against segregation and discrimination. There efforts are to be applauded, and duplicated- for the continued success of our HBCUs.