Parlett L. Moore, 92, Coppin State president 14 years

January 14, 2000|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Parlett L. Moore, who as president of Coppin State College in West Baltimore saw its enrollment and campus grow, died in his sleep Saturday at Mariner Health of Silver Spring. He was 92 and lived in Pikesville.

After 14 years as president, Dr. Moore, who took only two sick days during his tenure, retired in 1970.

Under his leadership, the West North Avenue institution's enrollment more than doubled and its campus expanded with a gymnasium, library, student union and science buildings. He also got the school its accreditation from the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.

"He was the best friend I had after I got to the college," said Calvin W. Burnett, his successor as president. "I needed to understand how the state operated, the history of the school, about Baltimore and the people on campus. He shared everything with me and has been advising me for 30 years without ever once interfering. That says something about the person.

"He did a good job as president," Dr. Burnett added. "In the last years, when campuses all over the country were in turmoil, he had a lot to contend with, but he left a solid foundation for me."

Dr. Moore often had to run the school under tight fiscal constraints.

"He never got the [state] support he needed," Dr. Burnett said.

Born in Wetipquin in Wicomico County, Dr. Moore was the son of a Chesapeake Bay steamboat captain. He received his early education on the Eastern Shore and his undergraduate degree from Howard University in 1930. He received a master's degree from Teachers College at Columbia University and a doctorate from Temple University in 1952.

He was principal of three schools before he went to Coppin -- St. Clair High in Cambridge from 1930 to 1938, Lincoln High in Rockville from 1938 to 1950 and Carver High School and Junior College in Montgomery County from 1950 to 1956.

When Dr. Moore was named Coppin president in 1956, the year after Maryland's colleges were desegregated, he found a small school that had been taken over by the state in 1950 and moved to the former Lutheran Deaconess Home two years later. Its enrollment was small and its building antiquated.

In 1968, after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., there were demonstrations on campus, and students complained that buildings and facilities were inadequate. Among other issues, they asked that a single pay phone in the student union be repaired. Dr. Moore listened to the complaints, called them "responsible" and set about resolving them.

After the protests ended, Dr. Moore announced his retirement.

"I was never the militant type," he said in an interview in The Evening Sun at the time of his retirement. "I have always felt more comfortable working things out through negotiations around the conference table."

The campus library is named after him.

He was a member of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, the board of directors of the Druid Hill Avenue YMCA, the Baltimore Chapter of Frontiers International and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, of which he was a past national president.

He enjoyed hunting and fishing and was a member of the Pioneer Rod and Gun Club.

His wife of 64 years, the former Thelma Crawford, died in 1998.

Services will be held at 11: 30 a.m. today at Sharp Street Memorial United Methodist Church, Dolphin and Etting streets.

He is survived by two sons, Parlett L. Moore Jr. of Hyattsville and Daniel C. Moore Sr. of Pikesville; a sister, Jessie Mitchell of Baltimore; and five grandchildren.

Sun staff writer Mike Bowler contributed to this article.

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