College Park's new president delivers his message to GBC Mote wants state to create a major research university


October 31, 1998|By Michael Hill | Michael Hill,SUN STAFF

The University of Maryland football team is not the only group from College Park making the journey up Interstate 95. On the day before the Terrapins were to take on Georgia Tech at the Ravens stadium, new school President C. D. "Dan" Mote and a small entourage came to town for a series of visits clearly designed to build bridges to Baltimore.

Attending a variety of meetings, mainly with business leaders, Mote delivered the message that has become his theme in two months on the job: The state has to recognize that a major research university is necessary to sustain economic growth.

"My responsibility is to try to develop a better understanding of why we need a research university," Mote told a breakfast gathering of the Greater Baltimore Committee.

"There are two major research universities that can fuel the future of this area, College Park and Johns Hopkins," Mote said, noting that areas of major economic growth, from Silicon Valley in California to Route 128 in Boston, are often associated with nearby universities.

"If there is going to be a technical future in this state, it is going to come out of them," he said. "Hopkins is not as strong on the technical side as College Park, and besides, it just doesn't have enough students. It can't do it by itself."

"But together with College Park, it can. It's a natural pairing that should take place for the region to be served well," he said.

Mote apologized to the GBC members for not getting to them sooner than his 60th day on the job.

"I studied this during the summer," he said of the months after his appointment was announced, but before he started the job. "This city is the key to making this region work, and this organization is the key one in this city."

GBC Executive Director Donald Hutchinson said the visit was unusual for a College Park president, noting that the previous president, William E. Kirwan, was a member of the GBC but usually invited it to the campus.

"That was important because we should see College Park," Hutchinson said. "But Dr. Mote wanted to come up here and see us."

Hutchinson said Mote still has something of a tough sell in Baltimore. "When people think of public universities here, they are going to think of Towson and UMBC, not College Park," he said.

Mote agreed that makes his job more difficult but added, "The community needs different institutions doing different things. It's not a question of denigrating other public institutions; it's just that people have to think of the bigger picture, the future of the whole region. It's a sophisticated message that I think the business community can understand."

After the GBC meeting, Mote went to Francis Scott Key Elementary/Middle school in Locust Point for a demonstration of a high-tech teaching program that is wiring together several schools using expertise from College Park's School of Education.

He then met with top executives of Black & Decker Corp. in Towson and Northrop Grumman Corp. in Linthicum -- Mote described them as get-acquainted sessions -- before an evening reception with alumni and parents at the World Trade Center.

"It is extremely important, both to me personally and to the mission of the College Park campus, that I learn about and be a part of the Baltimore community," Mote said at the end of his day. "Baltimore is the biggest city in the state that the University of Maryland serves."

Pub Date: 10/31/98

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