Letters To The Editor


April 26, 2004

Md. could face its own crisis in access to college

Mike Bowler's column "College rank, rejections go hand in hand" (April 21) probably struck a chord with many college applicants and their parents, who may understandably be more than a little dismayed to learn that in being rejected by a selective university or college, they could actually be helping to boost that institution's national ranking.

Mr. Bowler writes: "In the twisted value system of higher education in America, it's considered good to be selective, bad to be scrambling for students." And he quotes a college president from Minnesota who finds himself frustrated with this fact, but recognizes it as a reality: "Our success is judged on how many people we say `no' to. No other enterprise is like that."

As president of a community college here in Maryland, with all due respect to my colleagues at the selective four-year institutions, I have often said that's one definition of success, but it's not ours.

I know my colleagues from the 16 other community colleges in Maryland share my view that as open admissions institutions, we build our reputation not on the number of students we turn away but on the fact that we provide opportunities for all students to gain access to the benefits of higher education.

I also know that they share my worry that this most fundamental and vital community college mission - of providing open access to quality, affordable higher education - is at risk. It is at risk for much the same reason that our good friends in the selective four-year institutions have begun rejecting students in record numbers - because more students than ever are and will be going to college, and the overall demand for higher education is outpacing the supply.

Tragically, the situation has reached such a critical point in states such as California and Florida that students are literally being turned away by the thousands from community colleges. I certainly do not want to see that happen in Maryland, but unfortunately, we are beginning to see the early warning signals.

Last year, I co-chaired a statewide task force, commissioned by the General Assembly, that examined the capacity of Maryland's higher education system.

We concluded that unless we begin now to develop practical solutions for accommodating the rising number of students who will need our services, Maryland could be on the verge of a major higher education capacity crisis.

Today's selective universities and colleges are likely to become only more selective - because they can. But let's not forget the domino effect of this reality.

And as I noted in a column in The Sun two years ago, being rejected from one of our country's top private institutions or even a state university is disappointing ("A future out of reach," Opinion

Commentary, July 29, 2002). Not being able to enroll in a local community college would be an absolute tragedy.

Charlene R. Nunley


The writer is president of Montgomery College.

Mayor and council need to cut costs

I find it curious that the mayor's only solutions to the pending budget crisis are to raise taxes or reduce the budget by laying off key public servants and reducing basic services such as garbage collection ("Mayor pushes boost in taxes," April 22).

Most organizations, when faced with similar problems, look internally to achieve efficiencies and cost savings, rather than reducing service to the paying customer - in this case, the taxpayers of Baltimore.

Shouldn't the mayor and the City Council do the same thing?

Miriam Sadler


Don't trust promises about the Preakness

Magna Entertainment Corp.'s unqualified commitment to keep the Preakness at Pimlico Race Course is very good news in the wake of the stalemate we just witnessed in Annapolis ("`Solemn commitment,'" editorial, April 20).

But let's not be naive or be lulled into complacency.

Robert Irsay made similar statements shortly before he rolled the Colts franchise out of Baltimore in the middle of the night 20 years ago.

Francis J. Gorman


Bush acts remind us of an earlier George

President Bush's eagerness for war and his unabashed support of extensive wiretapping and government surveillance in the USA Patriot Act ("Bush urges a permanent Patriot Act," April 20) resemble the themes of another famous figure named George from several years back.

However, in this case it's not former President George H. W. Bush I'm referring to.

It's George Orwell our current president is destined to become synonymous with.

E. Liu


Patriot Act protects our nation's future

The Sun writes: "Quickly enacted in the passionate times just after America's biggest terror attacks, the Patriot Act does deserve a second look by a clear-eyed, thoughtful Congress" ("Crass act," editorial, April 22). I could not disagree more.

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