Bond to benefit UB, the city

Fellows: A University of Baltimore program is offering scholarships to six Baltimore employees.

November 30, 2003|By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest | Nancy Jones-Bonbrest,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Within weeks of taking over as president of the University of Baltimore last year, Robert L. Bogomolny had set up a meeting with Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley.

Out of that get-acquainted session grew the City Fellows Program, which is offering full UB scholarships this semester to six city employees to pursue a graduate degree in the fields of business administration, criminal justice or public administration.

The intent is to provide city employees with an opportunity to further their education and increase their knowledge in areas that will also benefit the city.

"I see us as connected at the hip with the city," Bogomolny said. "Urban institutions can contribute to the strength and growth and development of the city. Just as the quality of the city can make us stronger."

Ann Elliott, director of the Baltimore City Community Service Program for the past 10 years, was one of the six scholarship recipients. She had wanted to go back for her graduate degree but didn't think it would happen because of the high cost of tuition.

"This was the perfect opportunity for me," Elliott said. "I supervise about eight people, and the program is growing. I've gained a lot of knowledge from the course I'm taking so far about public employment policy. It covers all the supervisory aspects, so it's been a help to me already."

Marc Riccardo Partee, a detective with the city Police Department, also received one of the scholarships.

"It's just hitting me now about how important this is," Partee said. "To be one of six out of all the people who put in for this is just outstanding and amazing."

Partee said he could be reimbursed for graduate-level classes through the Police Department, but because he would have to pay for them upfront, he could have taken only one class each semester. As a recipient of the scholarship program, he is taking three classes and plans to take two next semester. Partee hopes to finish his graduate degree in criminal justice in about 2 1/2 years.

"This is an avenue for me to just give back more to the community," said Partee, who grew up in Baltimore. "With this degree, I will move up in the department. I wanted to effect change, and this is a vehicle to do that with."

That was the idea, said Bogomolny. He and O'Malley wanted a program that would not only assist and reward municipal workers but was equally beneficial to the school and city.

"The leaders of the city are very important, but the people in middle management do the day-to-day work, and the quality of that work influences the quality of service in the city government," Bogomolny said.

"From our standpoint, having people that are involved every day working in the city would enrich our classes. The experience they bring into our classroom is a great strength."

The University of Baltimore is an upper-division, graduate and professional university and part of the University System of Maryland. It includes the School of Law, the Yale Gordon College of Liberal Arts and the Merrick School of Business. More than half the students attend the university part time, many of them working professionals.

Most graduate students at the University of Baltimore take two classes each semester at a cost of about $2,250. The university is footing the bill for the City Fellows scholarships, which cover full tuition for the graduate degree.

Elliott Wheelan, director of human resources for the city, and his deputy director, Annja Stoudmire, put together the specifications for the program that would make it work from the city's standpoint.

Scholarship recipients must have worked for the city no less than two years. They must also have had a minimum undergraduate grade-point-average of 2.8 out of 4.0 and hold a position that relates to one of the three fields of study offered.

The six recipients must also maintain full-time employment with the city and commit to two years of city employment after the degree is completed.

After the first round of screening, at least 27 applications were still on the table. Stoudmire stressed that in addition to meeting the requirements of the program, the recipients also met or exceeded the university's standards for admittance.

"This is not just a scholarship for one year, this is a scholarship for the entire degree," said Stoudmire. "And every year, while they are trying to obtain their degree will be another year for them to also contribute toward the city."

University officials said they hope to offer the program to six new candidates each year.

In addition to Elliott and Partee, the other four recipients in the first round of scholarships are: Jacinta Brown, an accountant with the city's Commission on Aging and Retirement Education; James Fischer, division chief of fiscal services with the Baltimore City Fire Department; Bernita Kittrell, an account systems analysts with the Employees Retirement Systems; and Alphonso Tucker, superintendent of the northeast district in the Bureau of Solid Waste.

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