Educator from La. to head UMES Spikes helped design landmark agreement on desegregation

July 02, 1996|By David Folkenflik | David Folkenflik,SUN STAFF

The University of Maryland board of regents selected one of the architects of Louisiana's landmark desegregation agreement to head the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, the century-old campus in Princess Anne.

Dr. Dolores R. Spikes, currently president of the Southern

University System in Louisiana, will leave Baton Rouge in January to lead UMES. She will replace William C. Hytche, the courtly academic administrator who prodded the historically black campus over two decades to grow from a sleepy, cash-starved school to a doctorate-granting university.

"It's a wonderful campus in a great system," Dr. Spikes said in a telephone interview.

"I think the University of Maryland board of regents probably pulled a coup," Dr. Hytche said last night of his designated successor.

In discussing Dr. Spikes' appointment, several educators call her deceptively soft-spoken -- she is a passionate advocate of the need for diversity at the nation's colleges.

In Louisiana, she headed a public system of historically black campuses. She was instrumental in brokering a 1994 voluntary agreement with two other university systems and state officials to avoid a court-imposed settlement of a 20-year-old desegregation suit.

"She's terrific," said Donald N. Langenberg, chancellor of the 11-campus University of Maryland System.

Higher profile wanted

A search committee based at UMES recommended three candidates, including the school's vice president for academic affairs, Mortimer Neufville. But the regents wanted someone with a higher national profile and demanded a new search, Langenberg said.

"There was probably some anxiety on the part of the campus," said Richard Keenan, an English professor and search committee member. "I think there's a sigh of relief that there is someone ready to take on the position."

'Just the right background'

Said Roz Heibert, director of public affairs for the National Association of State and Land Grant Colleges and Universities, "She has just the right background to give UMES credibility as it moves forward. It will give them more cachet as they move forward in the scientific world."

Once slated for merger with nearby Salisbury State College (now Salisbury State University), UMES has become a strong draw for many Marylanders. More than a quarter of students are white. Instead of merging with Salisbury State, UMES has forged close ties with the liberal arts school. But it has also reached out to Maryland's professional schools in Baltimore, doubled its library holdings and established an honors program.

A step down in size

Spikes leaves a much larger system -- with approximately 16,000 students -- for Princess Anne, where enrollments only slightly exceed 3,000. Since October 1988, she has led the Southern University System, with campuses in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Shreveport-Bossier, which now includes schools of law, medicine, engineering, architecture, business and social work.

But she was ready for a new challenge and had already prepared to step down in a year or two. At UMES, campus officials boasted of the school's progress, which includes expanded programs in practical fields such as physical therapy, poultry science, environmental studies, and aviation. That appealed to her, she said. Her current annual compensation is $250,000 on a base salary of approximately $130,000 a year; her Maryland contract has yet to be negotiated.

UMES' new president-designate received her bachelor's degree from Southern University; her master's degree from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana; and her doctorate from Louisiana State University. All three degrees are in mathematics.

Pub Date: 7/02/96

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