Two College Comings, One Going

March 16, 1994

It is, sir, as I have said, a small college -- and yet there are those who love it.

-- Daniel Webster

Two of Maryland's small liberal arts colleges, Mount St. Mary's in Emmitsburg and Goucher in Towson, have ventured out-of-state to replace long-time presidents. "The Mount" has named George R. Houston Jr., a fund-raiser at Georgetown University, while Goucher has selected Judy Jolley Mohraz, an administrator at Southern Methodist University.

Although both Mr. Houston, a certified public accountant, and Dr. Mohraz, a historian, expect to continue to teach undergraduates, their immediate backgrounds reflect what is needed to steer small colleges through very rough seas: Mr. Houston helped increase Georgetown's endowment from $19 million to $342 million. Dr. Mohraz's strengths lie in marketing and "enrollment management," a higher-education euphemism for recruitment. Much needed in today's competitive world of higher education -- private and public -- are business acumen and public relations sense.

Both Goucher and Mount St. Mary's have been through rough times. Goucher probably was saved financially by accepting men in 1987. Since then, it has struggled valiantly to recruit students without lowering academic standards and without compromising its liberal arts mission.

"The struggle for institutional survival in recent years has driven many of the less prestigious colleges to abandon or sharply scale back their original educational missions in the arts and sciences in order to teach professional subjects more strongly in demand," observed David Breneman of Harvard University in a recent report on the status of liberal education.

It was just such a charge that led in part to the resignation last year of Robert J. Wickenheiser, the 16-year president of Mount St. Mary's. (His suggestion in a letter that it might be time for a sainted basketball coach to retire also sparked alumni criticism.)

Dr. Mohraz replaces Rhoda Dorsey, 20 years on the job at Goucher. Meanwhile, the respected Hood College president, Martha E. Church, has announced her retirement next year from the Frederick institution. Her strengths, too, have been in campus management and fund-raising; Hood has nearly completed a five-year, $52.7 million campaign -- the largest in the school's history.

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