The Baltimore Sun

Years of litigation and mediation appear to have killed off the joint Towson-University of Baltimore MBA program that helped spark a lawsuit by supporters of Maryland’s four historically black colleges and universities — but not to have brought the two sides any closer together. If the HBCU advocates are “not the slightest bit impressed” with a $10 million plan to increase ties between those schools and the state’s traditionally white institutions, as an attorney for the plaintiffs put it, the HBCUs’ plan — a Morgan State University takeover of UB and the wholesale transfer of plum academic programs from the TWIs — isn’t workable either.

Lost in legal firestorm of Maryland’s legacy of segregation and historic disinvestment in the HBCUs is an appreciation of what would really represent a positive outcome for the students whose interests should really be at the heart of the matter. Maryland has a limited amount of resources to allocate to higher education, and the question should be how to deploy those funds to produce the best educated workforce possible for the 21st century.

The glory and prestige of any particular institution — whether an HBCU or a TWI — is not the issue U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake should be focused on. What should be at the heart of the matter is ensuring the state provides the right array of options to further the academic and professional interests of as many students as possible, regardless of their race. We can ill afford either to maintain a set of institutions that are underperforming their potential or to eviscerate some of the most highly successful programs in Maryland higher education, but the former is what’s happening now and the latter is what would happen if the HBCU advocates get their way. read more