Regents elect Chapman chairman

Board also votes to let Coppin finance dorm with revenue bonds

July 10, 1999|By Michael Hill | Michael Hill,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- Nathan A. Chapman Jr. was elected chairman of the Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland yesterday at a midsummer meeting that marked a major changing of the guard.

The 41-year-old Baltimore financial executive replaces Lance W. Billingsley, who will remain on the board but stepped down from the chairmanship with one year remaining in his term.

"As the first African-American to be chairman, I am truly standing on the shoulders of the African-American educators and civil rights leaders who went before me, dedicating their careers and sometimes their lives to ensuring equal access to higher education," Chapman told the board in a brief speech after his election.

He then assumed Billingsley's chair, picking up the chairman's gavel.

"This feels good," he said.

Adm. Charles R. Larson, the choice of many key state legislators for chairman, officially joined the board yesterday and was elected vice chairman. U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer of the 5th District was elected secretary, and Louis Michaux Gonzales was chosen treasurer.

Chapman presided over a fairly routine meeting, though the regents did take the unusual step of overriding a recommendation by one of its committees to allow Coppin State College to use state revenue bonds to build a new dormitory.

The General Assembly had instructed the regents to use private financing whenever possible for revenue-producing projects, such as dormitories, bookstores and food service facilities.

The Finance Committee approved private funding for the dormitory over the objections of Coppin State President Calvin Burnett, who argued that the added cost of such financing that would be tacked on to dormitory charges -- about $400 per resi- dent a year -- would be a heavy burden for his students.

After hearing Burnett plead his case, the regents voted to use state financing for the dormitory. Chapman declared the resolution passed after the affirmative vote, but finance chairman Edwin S. Crawford then registered his objection.

The regents also took the first steps toward allowing the University of Maryland, College Park to set up its own fund-raising foundation, and acknowledged an additional $500,000 gift from Bell Atlantic, bringing that company's total commitment to the system's fund-raising campaign to $1 million.

Chapman, who has been vice chairman since Gov. Parris N. Glendening appointed him to the board four years ago, is a Baltimore native who went to high school at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute and graduated in 1980 from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

He heads the Chapman Co., a brokerage firm with headquarters at the World Trade Center. Active in politics, Chapman was an early backer of Glendening, whose support essentially guaranteed him the chairmanship. Longtime Glendening political ally Billingsley decided to leave the post after he was criticized for trying to open a lobbying operation in Annapolis.

Chapman's election was opposed by many state legislators who preferred Larson, the retired head of the Naval Academy. Larson earned praised last fall for his work on a task force examining the governance of the system. But Larson said he did not want to join the board as chairman, preferring to serve for a while before taking on a leadership role.

Also joining the board yesterday were David H. Nevins, who runs a public relations firm in Hunt Valley, and student regent Andrew Miller, who attends Frostburg State University. Stepping down were Earle Palmer Brown, a Washington public relations executive, and Susan Woda, a University of Maryland, College Park graduate who completed her year as the student trustee.

Pub Date: 9/10/99

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