Looking to the south for a lesson Educators: At a summit, leaders of Maryland colleges and universities heard how Virginia schools outdid theirs in pulling out of the higher education recession.

The Education Beat

November 20, 1996|By Mike Bowler | Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF

THE POWERS that be (and a few that were) in Maryland higher education and business held a first-ever "summit" yesterday and looked south, across the Potomac, for advice and inspiration.

Filling an auditorium at the new University of Maryland Baltimore County Technology Center, leaders of the state's colleges and universities heard "the Virginia experience" from a former commonwealth governor and from a current chairman of the Virginia Business Higher Education Council.

Maryland has an inferiority complex about Virginia colleges and universities. It's deeply rooted in history and tradition (and might not stand up to strict scrutiny), but there it is.

Which flagship university earns the most respect, College Park or the school founded by Thomas Jefferson in Charlottesville? Which public liberal arts school has the most cachet, St. Mary's College or William and Mary? Indeed, Virginia has several public colleges and universities that overshadow those in the Free State: George Mason, James Madison, Old Dominion, Virginia Commonwealth, Virginia Polytechnic, even the renegade Virginia Military Institute.

"Virginia was able years ago to establish the identification of [its] institutions as first-class places to go," said H. Mebane Turner, president of the University of Baltimore. Turner should know. He's a native of Virginia and a University of Virginia graduate, as are at least three other Maryland college presidents at yesterday's summit.

The commonwealth even outperformed Maryland in pulling out of the recession of the early 1990s. John T. Hazel Jr., chairman of the Virginia council, told the Marylanders how it was done.

Determining that state schools were dragging on rock bottom after $480 million in budget cuts, Hazel said, Virginia college and university presidents recruited business leaders and legislators from both parties in an effort called "Virginia First."

"The presidents came together; they presented a unified budget, and they stuck to it," said Hazel, a lawyer and developer whose country-boy manner belies two degrees from Harvard. Meanwhile, the educators approached all candidates for election the Virginia legislature and asked them to pledge support for increased higher education funding. Three-quarters of the candidates signed up, and higher education won a $200 million increase for the 1996-1998 biennium, Hazel said.

Maryland doesn't have an equivalent to Hazel, and its college and university presidents have trouble agreeing on the time of day. But several signs are encouraging. Gov. Parris N. Glendening, a college teacher for 27 years, made good on his campaign pledge to increase state aid to higher education, and he told the leaders yesterday that more is in the offing.

Moreover, Donald N. Langenberg, chancellor of the University of Maryland System, said the Free State's version of "Virginia First," known here as "United Voice," is beginning to show results. Indeed, the very fact of the summit, which brought together people as diverse as the state school superintendent, the president of an Eastern Shore factory and the chief of Frostburg State University, could be seen as a positive sign.

But there is a very long way to go. As Langenberg pointed out, the one state behind Virginia at the depth of the recession was Maryland. And things haven't improved. Fifth in the nation last year in personal income, Maryland was 40th among states in the portion of that income devoted to higher education. (Virginia was 38th.)

Faced with severe financial problems in 1820, Langenberg said, Maryland "invented a railroad," the Baltimore & Ohio. Nearly two centuries later, the state needs something of equal magnitude, he said.

The economic perspectives of governor and son

Gov. Parris N. Glendening told the higher educators yesterday at UMBC that his son Raymond, a 16-year-old senior at DeMatha High School in Prince George's County, is looking at colleges.

"I asked him if he'd noticed that he has yet to consider a college that costs under $25,000 a year," the governor said.

"He said, 'No, Dad, why?' "

Heavenly Ham enters school curriculum market

This little pig went to market.

Heavenly Ham is the latest company to produce curriculum for schools.

Titled "Pilgrims and Progress: The History of Prepared Food in America," the curriculum has been "embraced by hundreds of schools in 29 states," including Pasadena, Riviera Beach, Riderwood, Bel Air, Baltimore Highlands, Woodbridge and Perry Hall elementary schools in Maryland, according to a Heavenly Ham news release.

The curriculum is free to the schools, which also get a Thanksgiving gift basket to donate to charity.

Of course, "Pilgrims and Progress" teaches that the first Thanksgiving feast included ham.

Pub Date: 11/20/96

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