On-the-job FitnessEditor: With indignation, I read The...


August 18, 1991

On-the-job Fitness

Editor: With indignation, I read The Sunday Sun's front-page article Aug. 4, "Exercising Prerogative," by Washington Bureau reporter Dan Fesperman.

Mr. Fesperman implied that taxpayers' money spent on "free gyms as an on-the-job benefit" for federal employees was "'a classic waste of money . . . an insult." He quoted the spokesman for an organization that he cited as "regularly" ridiculing the budget. Another source commented that studies have never lasted long enough to give credence to government fitness advocates' claims that such facilities boost productivity and lower health-care costs.

Faced with rising health-care benefits that will cost American corporations $175 billion in 1991, employers in 56 percent of companies with more than 500 employees now have some kind of health-care program. Instead of ridiculing America's largest corporation, the federal government, we should be glad for money well spent.

You need only look to Japan, which has a long history of exercise in the workplace, to prove the U.S. government's wisdom. Closer to home, Mesa Limited Partnership, an oil and gas company based in Dallas, estimates its corporate wellness program saves $1.6 million a year.

Right here in Baltimore, United States Fidelity & Guaranty's dynamic chief executive officer, Norman Blake, who has dramatically cut costs in many areas, including 23 percent of the work force, saw fit to hire a fitness director last January (a position that had been vacant for 10 years). He believes that on-site fitness programs are one of the important ways to "get people excited and involved."

Carol V. Friedman.


Hickey's Heroes

Editor: Much has been said about the privatization of the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School. Some has been true and some has been false. Most has been exaggerated.

I had the opportunity to teach at that facility for the last 13 years. I have resigned so am not subject to policy which prohibits me from speaking out on this topic.

The facility, were it truly as corrupt as painted, would have exploded during these last 12 months. There are a few hundred reasons why it has not -- those individual staff members who have toiled under the pressure of the last year. It has not been due to the intervention of the Public Justice Center, state Sen. Thomas Bromwell, Gov. William D. Schaefer, the volunteer or community associations groups, or the countless other groups who have witnessed the ''conditions'' at the school.

I am proud of the work that I have done there, of the people I have worked with and the positive contributions we have given to students. If you know an employee of the school, please tell that person thank you. They deserve it and need it at this time.

ian Breichner.


Adequate Funding is the Answer

Editor: Whether one is for or against the proposal to merge Morgan State University and Coppin State College, Barry Rascovar's column is the occasion for some genuine concern.

Radical proposals of this nature are often suspect from the moment they are made. It is for this reason that some thoughtful people are led to question immediately the motives behind such proposals.

Mr. Rascovar believes that both the mergers of the University of Maryland Baltimore County with the University of Maryland at Baltimore and Morgan State University with Coppin State College would make sense.

Certainly he has a right to his opinion. But in presenting his case he extols the greatness and excellence of UMBC and UMAB, while disparaging the quality of education offered at Morgan and Coppin.

A similar stance was taken three years ago in a report published by the Greater Baltimore Committee. In promoting the development of the one institution which the business group seemed most genuinely interested in, the GBC felt the need to disparage other area colleges and universities, especially Morgan and Coppin. That strategy only leads to, and perpetuates, the kind of turf wars for which Mr. Rascovar apparently has so much disdain. Are there no distinctive contributions represented in these institutions? If so, what is to be gained from a consolidation of the two?

Mr. Rascovar might also recognize that if, as he maintains, these institutions are less than quality places, they are exactly what the state has determined them to be. As creations of the state, the state is responsible for the funding to fulfill their missions. Certainly during my 41 years in Maryland the missions of Morgan, Coppin, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Bowie have never been adequately funded.

It is for this reason that these academic communities applauded the recently implemented policy of the Maryland Higher Education Commission to begin funding institutions based on their missions and championed the General Assembly's provision in the 1989 reorganization of higher education legislation to enhance the state's four historically black institutions.

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