Growing UB

April 24, 2006

AUniversity of Baltimore student was observed asleep last week inside the school's brand-new student center. It thrilled the school's president: Until the spiffy $20 million building was dedicated a week ago, the upper-division and graduate school's students - all commuters, many working and attending parttime - had no place to catnap other than their cars.

The center reflects big changes at the often-overlooked school. For the first time in decades, UB will be admitting freshmen and sophomores in the fall of 2007 - part of plans to increase enrollment from about 5,000 to about 7,000 students over the next few years. In marketing the school, Robert L. Bogomolny, UB's entrepreneurial president, emphasizes its liberal-arts offerings, along with its preprofessional and graduate specialties. And UB is looking to develop more buildings by its midtown campus.

There are questions about whether the school's broadened aspirations may diffuse its successful focus on older, career-oriented and night students. And in its building projects, the school must be sensitive to its community. (Preservationists opposed razing the historic Odorite building to make way for the new student center.)

But a larger UB that embraces a greater number of younger day students will help the University System of Maryland - of which the school is part - cope with a coming bulge of college-age students. Its building plans can help the school attain greater fiscal self-sufficiency. And its physical and educational developments must be considered potential positives for a city in need of both.

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