Two agencies serve the needs of Md.'s colleges The...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

December 22, 2003

Two agencies serve the needs of Md.'s colleges

The citizens of Maryland have a vested interest in the activities of the state's institutions of higher learning. Hence, the state has a regulatory agency for higher education, the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC).

The commission is responsible for regulating all post-secondary education in the state, including the activities of the University System of Maryland (USM), Morgan State University, St. Mary's College of Maryland, 16 community colleges, 24 independent institutions, numerous private career schools and several out-of-state providers.

MHEC has a long list of statutory responsibilities, including coordinating higher-education activities, protecting consumers, identifying workforce shortages, holding institutions accountable and administering state financial aid - to name just a few.

The commission is not responsible for "governing" the University System of Maryland. The system's 11 degree-granting institutions and two research centers are governed by the USM Board of Regents. As a governing body, the regents make personnel decisions, approve contracts and establish policies for the USM member institutions. The system was created, in part, to achieve efficiencies by governing 13 institutions through a single board.

Certain decisions made by the USM regents are subject to review and comment, sometimes even approval, by MHEC. This is not overlap. This is oversight. The process is not unique to the USM; it is consistent with the process of every other higher-education institution in the state.

The Sun recently referred to MHEC and the USM as the "two-headed monster" ("Better than one?" editorial, Dec. 15).

In my opinion, this is not a two-headed monster. These are two different animals.

Tina Bjarekull

Annapolis

The writer is president of the Maryland Independent College and University Association.

Port's jobs remain critical to the city

When did the port of Baltimore become an inconvenient asset to the city ("Homes vs. industry on the waterfront," Dec. 14)? And why are the port's 16,000 direct jobs apparently thought to be worth less than the few thousand jobs at the General Motors plant on Broening Highway?

Weeks ago, Maryland's political and economic development leaders traveled to Detroit to plead with GM to keep the Broening Highway plant open. So where is the same commitment and passion to protect the port of Baltimore?

Maybe the difference is that no developer has yet put forward a plan to transform the GM property into a development with high-priced condos, five-star hotels and retail shops beyond the reach of the average resident of Dundalk or East Baltimore.

The noise, grit and smells of a working marine terminal may be inconvenient to someone who just paid $500,000 for a condo in Locust Point. But maybe that condo should have been built somewhere else in the first place.

Linda J. McCarty

Severna Park

Coal-powered plants may kill more birds

The Sun's article "Bird kills in the thousands stir opposition to wind turbines" (Dec. 17) noted the thousands of birds killed at the giant Altamont wind farm in California. But it should be pointed out that according to the numbers given (22,000 birds killed by 7,000 windmills in 20 years) an observer would have to stand near one of the windmills for six or seven years to see a bird killed.

This appears to me to be a very low rate. And I wonder how many birds are killed by the pollution from coal-burning plants.

Jim Hendry

Catonsville

Intolerant Muslims threaten sacred sites

This attack by Palestinians on Jewish worshippers attempting to pray at Joseph's Tomb in Nablus is only the forerunner to what will happen if the Geneva Accord or even the "road map" of President Bush ever becomes a reality ("Palestinians attack visitors to holy site," Dec. 13). Jewish sacred places have no meaning to Muslims who practice intolerance for other religions.

If Israel is forced to evacuate Hebron and agree to Arab sovereignty over the Temple Mount, the two most important shrines to Judaism will be not only off-limits but will probably be destroyed in the way Joseph's Tomb was.

However, even Christians should be concerned about this intolerance of other religions by Muslims.

The destruction of Joseph's Tomb was only a precursor to similar actions by Muslims against shrines of other religions.

Nelson Marans

Silver Spring

Keep slots, casinos away from Md. cities

Three cheers for Del. Jon S. Cardin for his very factual article ("Devil in the details," Opinion * Commentary, Dec. 12). Let us hope that enough of the other delegates and state senators acknowledge that slots are likely to do more harm than good if placed in heavily populated area such as Pimlico, Timonium or the Inner Harbor.

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