Coppin needs more money, Toll tells university regents

$300 million in capital spending is sought for W. Baltimore campus

October 06, 2001|By Alec MacGillis | Alec MacGillis,SUN STAFF

An impassioned plea for more resources for Coppin State College met with kind words but no promises of increased funding from the state university system's Board of Regents yesterday.

John S. Toll, president of Washington College in Chestertown, presented the regents with a proposal from a state-appointed study panel to spend $300 million upgrading the West Baltimore campus during the next decade, and to increase its operating budget.

The panel, which Toll led, was asked to study Coppin State's needs as part of an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights. It found that the college has received a tiny fraction of the capital funds given other state schools in the past decade.

"Think of this as covering the last 10 years as well as the next 10 years," Toll said of the increase. "It sounds like a lot of money, but it's a reasonable request."

The historically black college, Toll argued, serves an important function, educating disadvantaged students and training many of the city's teachers, police officers, and civil servants.

"We're trying to reach out and serve all of our population, and Coppin is part of our society that most needs our help," said Toll.

Toll urged that the regents request $6.7 million in state funding for Coppin's 2003 operating budget - $2.4 million more than the regents asked for in August. He also suggested that the board add a $20 million capital request for Coppin in this year's budget to allow the school to buy two properties.

University system Chancellor Donald N. Langenberg noted that the system's five-year capital budget plan includes $144 million for Coppin - nearly half of the 10-year total suggested by Toll's panel.

He and the regents made no promise to provide the additional $2.4 million in operating funds, saying the panel's report will be taken up by a subcommittee.

The lack of firm promises did not keep Coppin State President Calvin W. Burnett from praising the study.

"I only wish the people who have passed on [from Coppin] with unfair compensation and less appreciation for their work to keep that institution going [were here]," he said. "This means that their commitment was not in vain. ... As for me, regarding the study, I can only say that my cup runneth over."

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