Legislators speed up process to name aid formula after Loyola's president STATE HOUSE REPORT

January 19, 1993|By John W. Frece | John W. Frece,Staff Writer

A sad race against time has prompted Maryland legislators t move with unaccustomed speed to assure that the name and memory of Loyola College President Joseph A. Sellinger remains before them for generations to come.

This week, only the second of the 90-day session, the House of Delegates is expected to complete work on a bill sponsored by the governor that would name after Father Sellinger the formula used by the state to send financial aid to Loyola and other private colleges and universities.

The Loyola president for the past 29 years, who turned 72 on Sunday, is dying of inoperable pancreatic cancer.

The state Senate suspended its rules to bring the legislation to a final vote yesterday -- it was passed unanimously -- and hurried the measure across the hall to the House for its expected approval.

Though losing weight from his illness, Father Sellinger is still reporting to work part of each day and wants to attend the ceremony when the governor signs the bill into law, said Loyola's spokesman, Mark Kelly.

In introducing the legislation, Gov. William Donald Schaefer said in his State of the State address last week, "It's one small way we can recognize all he has done for education in Maryland." Father Sellinger is credited with helping establish the program that funnels tax dollars to private institutions of higher education.

This year, the program sent a total of $22 million to the Baltimore International Culinary College, Goucher College, Hood College, Johns Hopkins University, the Maryland Institute College of Art, Mount St. Mary's College, the College of Notre Dame, the Peabody Institute, Sojourner-Douglass College, St. John's College, Villa Julie College, Washington College, Western Maryland College and, of course, Loyola.

The formula, which is written into state law, calls for the private schools to receive, based on their respective enrollment, 16 percent of the amount the state spent per pupil at state-run four-year colleges and universities in the previous year.

Because of Maryland's recent budget problems, however, the aid program had to be trimmed by $3.7 million this year and by $7 million last year.

One effect of naming the formula for Father Sellinger, legislators agree, is that it may be harder to cut such spending in future years.

"I think that's right. Once [his name] is there, we sure as hell aren't going to cut it," said Sen. Laurence Levitan, D-Montgomery, chairman of the Budget and Taxation Committee.

Backers of the measure say that was not their motive.

"People revere and respect Father Sellinger for his humanitarianism in addition to his contributions to higher

education," said J. Elizabeth Garraway, president of the Maryland Independent College and University Association.

But friends of Father Sellinger also say that if naming the formula after him does protect such spending in years to come, that will be just fine with him.

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