Kelly reappointment to college board urged

Balto. County officials fear Glendening will oust him

May 12, 1999|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

A number of Baltimore County elected officials are pushing Gov. Parris N. Glendening to reappoint former Sen. Francis X. Kelly as head of the Community College of Baltimore County system, fearing that the Republican might be ousted by the governor.

Political observers say that they believe the appointment is in trouble because Kelly -- who is widely credited with helping to turn around the once-troubled college system -- aggressively supported the election of Glendening's Republican opponent, Ellen R. Sauerbrey, last year.

Kelly's four-year term on the board of trustees expires June 30. Appointments typically are made during the annual General Assembly session. This year's session ended last month.

"It looks to me as if the governor's hanging back because Frank's a Republican," said state Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, a Baltimore Democrat who talked recently with Major Riddick, Glendening's chief of staff, and said she was discouraged by what she heard.

"What I get is that he's [Glendening] very noncommittal, and it seems to me if it were going to happen he would have been reappointed," Hoffman said.

Jennifer Crawford, the governor's appointments secretary, said yesterday that no decisions have been reached on filling the six vacancies that will be open as of June 30 on the 15-member board that oversees the three county community college campuses.

"We're still in the middle of the appointments process," Crawford said.

Ray Feldmann, a Glendening press spokesman, denied that partisan politics would play any part in the appointment's process.

"The governor selects people he thinks are the best qualified and the most appropriate to serve on these boards," Feldmann said.

But several county elected officials say that they have written to Glendening to encourage Kelly's reappointment because they have heard it is in trouble.

"When you look at the progress that the community colleges have made under Frank's direction and leadership, it's clear that he's done a terrific job," said County Councilman Stephen G. Sam Moxley, a Democrat whose district includes the Catonsville campus.

Under Kelly's tenure, the trustees recruited a highly regarded administrator to serve as chancellor of the system which has 64,000 students spread among among campuses in Dundalk, Catonsville and Essex.

In addition, they began a reorganization that improved morale among faculty, streamlined programs and brought the once-independent institutions under one system.

Kelly, a close friend and political confidante of the County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, also is credited with increasing county funding for the colleges and helping the schools build partnerships with businesses for a better trained work force.

Ruppersberger said he has not discussed the appointment with Glendening, but he is sure the governor will reappoint Kelly.

"I'm sure the governor's going to reappoint him because I think the governor's going to do the right thing here," Ruppersberger said. "In my opinion, there's no one else who could step in and do the kind of job that Frank can do."

Kelly, a county insurance executive, acknowledged that his reappointment could be in trouble.

Though reluctant to discuss his appointment publicly, Kelly said that he would like to be reappointed to the nonpaying post.

"I want to finish the job that I started, and I'd hate to leave behind the people in the system," he said.

Pub Date: 5/12/99

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