UM institute paid much to Columbus CenterAs a strong...


January 15, 1998

UM institute paid much to Columbus Center

As a strong advocate for the Columbus Center's Hall of Exploration, the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute shares the disappointment of educators, tourism planners, developers and other community leaders that the hall did not generate the revenue needed to be self-supporting.

We have worked closely with Christopher Columbus Center Development Inc. to support important educational programs, including the hall and the Science and Technology Education Center. We continue to seek additional funding for the science-technology program that serves middle school and high school students and teachers in Baltimore and statewide.

I would like to clarify a point about finances. Recent articles have overlooked the fact that the Biotechnology Institute has paid a substantial amount to Christopher Columbus Center Development to occupy research space in the building. Under the terms of the lease agreement, the Biotechnology Institute has paid more than $1.4 million annually to reimburse building maintenance and operations, utilities, certain taxes and related costs.

Since April 1995, when scientists employed by the institute's Center of Marine Biotechnology moved into the building, the total paid, including additional reimbursement for building equipment, has been almost $4 million -- a not inconsequential sum.

Payments for which we are responsible are continuing, directly to vendors now instead of to Christopher Columbus Center Development.

The institute and the University System of Maryland played key roles in attracting funds that enabled the Columbus Center to be built. As research continues, we are committed to objectives geared to realizing the center's full potential.

ita R. Colwell

College Park

The writer is president of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute.

Spotting errors of magnitude

There was a thousandfold error in the glossary box accompanying J. D. Considine's article on digital video disc technology (Dec. 15).

Gigabyte is defined in the box as 1 million bytes but is, in fact, 1 billion bytes. And a megabyte is 1 million bytes, not 1,000 bytes, as stated.

Tom M. Padwa


Never having to say you're sorry

There is another point to consider in Andrew Ratner's column on the modern apology ("It's not 'sorry,' it's 'my bad,' " Dec. 28).

He happened upon the term on a basketball court when a player said, "My bad," after dribbling the ball off his foot and then out of bounds. This was the player's way of acknowledging his mistake.

I encountered the phrase, and the older, "My fault," when I returned to teaching in a Baltimore County high school. After nearly two years of being exposed to them, I am still amazed every time I hear them from my students, who see these statements as well-intentioned acts of personal responsibility.

True enough.

If you catch a young person "in the act," so to speak, "My fault" is a more noble response than, "Wasn't me," or, "I didn't do it." By now, however, some of my students know that if they utter, "My fault," I counter with, "Yes, it is your fault; now what?" They are starting to understand that what I am after is an apology.

In social situations, personal affronts or accidental offenses are appropriately followed by an apology -- an acknowledgment asking pardon for a fault or offense. "My fault" doesn't cut it. The words offer little more than ownership of the offense. "I lTC apologize" is a statement of action that acknowledges personal responsibility and seeks to make amends.

The dynamic of apologizing necessitates substantial appreciation of the integrity of other people. Apologizing is relating, it is respecting. It is seeing value in others as you see it in yourself. Apologizing is about self-respect and peaceful coexistence.

It is not too much to ask of our young people that they learn to apologize. It is not too high a standard. It is not a gigantic step to enlightenment.

It is a small step in common courtesy and a much better way to be with others.

Michael Breschi


Some mail evidently a very low priority

I am appalled at the U.S. Postal Service.

It often takes my "priority mail" many, many days to reach its destination -- the last time it took 11 days from California. That's priority mail?

Beverly Roesler


Now, David Brinkley can finally be honest

Argh, I can't stand it: pompous Jack W. Germond and Jules Witcover, along with other media heavyweights, complaining that David Brinkley is leaving his news fraternity to become a spokesman for industry (Jan. 12).

This is the fraternity that lies, distorts and biases the news, many times just to sell the news but mostly just to advance the left wing agenda it considers to be politically correct.

How can these hypocrites live with themselves? I suspect that David Brinkley gave a big sigh of relief to be able to grab his integrity away from that morass and be honest.

Good for him.

Jim Watson


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