Regents working hard to keep Morgan strong

SATURDAY'S HERO

July 19, 2008

Contrary to what some critics may say, the Morgan State University Board of Regents takes seriously its obligations as a governing board with responsibility for the overall management of the institution ("Morgan regents often 'not here,' " July 13).

Morgan State's board meets the state standard for attendance at regular board meetings, satisfies the requirements of our by-laws for a quorum and otherwise invests the time necessary to effectively accomplish the business of the university.

Board members also spend an enormous amount of time in strategic planning forums, meeting with the governor, appearing before legislative committees, cultivating potential donors and supporters, and participating in campus convocations and student orientations, to name only a few of the activities that demonstrate the level and character of their commitment.

I reject any suggestion of indifference on the part of the university's regents, as well as any attempt to establish a relationship between attendance at meetings by members of the board and the recent concerns regarding our campus construction program.

Morgan State is not immune to the challenges that plague much larger and better-supported universities in the state. But unlike incidents at other campuses, any missteps at Morgan seem to become front-page news.

The construction issue, specifically, has been prominently featured in 12 lengthy front-page articles and two Sun editorials over the last five months. We believe that this treatment is unfair to Morgan's administration, faculty, staff and students. And it does a great disservice to our Maryland public.

Our university does extremely well under some very difficult circumstances. It is nationally recognized as the leading producer among Maryland's traditional four-year institutions of undergraduate degrees for African-Americans and is among the top 20 institutions in awarding degrees to African-Americans in the nation.

Even more exciting is the vision the university has had for more than two decades of achieving the same level of distinction with a much larger and more academically, racially and culturally diverse student population.

The challenge in achieving that goal has not been a lack of commitment and leadership on the part of the governing board. It has been the continuing lack of an appropriate investment in campus resources.

Thanks to the Maryland legislature, a group of well-respected individuals has been engaged to study the resource issue and to make recommendations to address it.

The study will be completed by this September.

Dallas R. Evans, Baltimore

The writer is chairman of the Morgan State University Board of Regents. The letter was also signed by the other 14 members of the board.

Greater dangers lurk in lawns

Do I have this right? A few neighbors are complaining about what they see as an aesthetic problem with Erin Alban's yard ("A plastic flamingo too far," July 12).

Based on photos supplied by The Sun (online as well as in the paper), Ms. Alban is not conscientious about the care of her lawn. And because of all of her knickknacks displayed outside, she has very little visible lawn.

Meanwhile:

* Water for lawns accounts for as much as 30 percent of summer water consumption in U.S. urban areas.

* All pesticides, fungicides and herbicides are either neurotoxins, endocrine disrupters or carcinogens.

* According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, up to 5 percent of the volatile organic chemical air pollution in U.S. urban areas in the summer is attributable to lawn and garden equipment, mostly power mowers. VOCs contribute to our risk of cancer and to ozone pollution.

* Lawn mowers emit polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Some PAHs in lawn mower emissions are classified as probable carcinogens by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

* The noise level of most gasoline-powered mowers is in the "potentially harmful" range, with the EPA recommending protection for prolonged exposure. Some riding mowers are in the "harmful" range. Noise pollution can raise blood pressure and change blood chemistry, and is the leading cause of hearing loss.

Yes, a state official should be visiting Ms. Alban. But that state official should be Gov. Martin O'Malley, and he should be shaking her hand or even giving her a hug and a kiss on behalf of the Chesapeake Bay and those who worry about the environment.

Mark Borinsky, Baltimore

The writer is a former member of the greenery committee at the Johns Hopkins University.

Troops can see war as mistake

The writer of the letter "Ignoring soldiers dedicated to duty" (July 10) disagrees with the slogan "Support Our Troops: Bring Them Home Now."

The members of our military are intelligent enough to know that the war in Afghanistan is justified because of the role of the Taliban and al-Qaida in that country.

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