USM remains committed to financial aid
The Sun's editorial on the future of tuition reform ("Benefit and burden," Sept. 24) serves as an excellent place to begin a dialogue about how students and parents will pay for college education in the future. And we heartily agree with The Sun's assertion that access to public higher education must drive our policy -- as it has since the inception of the University System of Maryland (USM) 15 years ago.
But I would like to offer one clarification about our future plans for financial aid. USM institutions have no intention of backing away from their responsibility to provide need-based aid. Indeed, it is my expectation that need-based aid will become an even higher priority in the years to come.
In the coming weeks and months, Sun readers will be hearing more about our efforts to improve the process of setting tuition at the USM campuses. This is a task that will involve any number of different constituencies, from parents to students to alumni to the business community. And as the process makes its way through the USM Board of Regents, we will seek comments and questions from the public.
Considering the remarkable impact that a college degree has on the lives of students -- and on the future economic viability of the state of Maryland -- a thoughtful and inclusive process evaluating our tuition policy is most important.
William E. Kirwan
The writer is chancellor of the University System of Maryland.
Public funding opens universities to all
Public higher education is the traditional means for most Marylanders to achieve a quality education at an affordable cost ("Politics and tuition," Opinion
Commentary, Sept. 21). And a public university system is not, and should not be, based on the tuition principle of "let each pay according to one's means" that often holds in the private college system.
Allowing it to function that way would abandon the legal principles of the Maryland Higher Education Act, which seeks to preserve affordability and access to college for the average student with average means.
Two forces are at work in the growth of tuition costs: the rising cost of instruction and the hidden cost of institutional financial aid. These two costs join each other at the hip of higher education expense growth.
When state appropriations to higher education are reduced, this affects both the cost of instruction and the institutional financial aid pool.
Some would argue the state university system has made solid progress in building endowments to fund student aid. But the stagnant economy and dismal stock market have reduced this funding source even as the need for financial aid grows.
Cutting public dollars for higher education from the state's tax system will substitute a "tuition transfer tax" for the conscious, public will of the government to recognize the investment in public higher education has both social and economic rewards.
Edwin S. Crawford
The writer is a former member of the Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland and a former chairman of its finance committee.
It's no mystery why the lights went out
I can't believe that we Americans have become such a nation of whiners. I think the explanation as to why we lost power and why it has taken so long to restore is a very simple one: A hurricane hit the area. ("Power outages prompt inquiries," Sept. 25).
The wind blew really hard. The wind blew down power lines. The wind blew down overgrown trees onto power lines. Water, trees, power lines and debris have been blocking roads. Crews could not get to the areas affected fast enough. It is a dangerous job.
I think that those who have only losing electricity and water to complain about should be ashamed of not being prepared and not taking the storm warnings seriously.
We should really be concerned for those who lost all of their belongings or their lives.
Elodia G. Bennett
Utility workers deserve a break
Leave it to the politicians to try to place blame for the power outages. They may as well blame God, since hurricanes are considered acts of God by insurance companies ("Power outages prompt inquiries," Sept. 25).
People need to be reminded that turning the power back on isn't a matter of just throwing a switch. It involves serious safety issues that must be addressed. Two people died in the process, remember?
Yes, the inconveniences have been many and costly, but it's better for the job to be done slowly and safely than fast and sloppy.
BGE's workers and those from the many power companies assisting BGE have been working 12- to 16-hour days. Give them a break.
Let everyone enjoy benefits of marriage
The letter "Reasons to rule out same-sex marriages" (Sept. 25) says gay unions serve no societal purpose because they "bring forth nothing essential to society" because "no children flow from sexual relations between members of the same sex."