Ehrlich requests MBA review

Higher education chief to offer ways to better Morgan's program


Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. asked his higher education secretary yesterday to recommend ways to strengthen the MBA program at Morgan State University in the wake of a decision this week to allow Towson University to offer the degree.

In a letter, the governor asked Maryland Higher Education Secretary Calvin W. Burnett to review several issues - including funding levels for the Morgan program - and report back to him by Dec. 15.

Henry Fawell, a spokesman for Ehrlich, said the governor isn't seeking to overturn a decision to permit Towson to launch a joint MBA program with the University of Baltimore, which already offers the degree.

"He just wants to ensure that both programs are as competitive as they can be," Fawell said. "The goal is to ensure that the Towson decision does not adversely affect Morgan State."

Morgan State had protested the move to let Towson offer an MBA, arguing that students instead should get their graduate business degrees at the historically black college in Northeast Baltimore.

Morgan has offered an MBA for years, but the number of students enrolled in its program has fallen, dropping from 62 a decade ago to 28 last year.

The Maryland Higher Education Commission voted 10-1 Wednesday to uphold an earlier decision to allow Towson to offer a joint MBA degree with UB.

Commission Chairman Kevin M. O'Keefe said the panel plans to work with Morgan State to strengthen its program. "It could be resources, or staff, whatever is necessary to ensure that Morgan's MBA program continues to be a success and build on it," O'Keefe said.

The U.S. Justice Department's Office of Civil Rights is expected to review the decision to allow the joint MBA program and its possible impact on desegregating Maryland's institutions of higher education.

Morgan State President Earl R. Richardson said through a spokesman that the higher education commission appears to be backing away from a policy of not allowing unnecessary duplication of programs at Maryland's public universities.

"I continue to believe that Maryland's longstanding policy against the unnecessary duplication of programs was the most effective approach to developing a desegregated higher education system," Richardson said.

He said the opportunity now exists for Morgan State and other Maryland colleges to offer new programs that they haven't been allowed to offer in the past.

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