Next Towson University president needs to focus on relations with Towson

March 31, 2011

As a 1972 graduate, former elected Student Government Association senator and prior appointed alumni board member of Towson University — as well as a resident of the Towson community since 1989 — I think that the main quality that the institution's next chief executive should and must have is a decent respect for the feelings and opinions of the surrounding areas that give the campus its home ("A search for excellence," March 31).

This has been a quality sorely lacking in the last several presidents, most recently over the seven-years term of the current incumbent. The prevailing attitude has been: the public be damned. You don't want 25,000 students, well you're getting them anyway. You don't want more buildings, we're constructing them anyhow. You don't like our students urinating (and more) on your front lawns — hey, that's too bad!

Decades ago, the TU presidency ceased being about educating and became about raising money and recruiting new students from out of state — at the expense of our own citizens, here in Maryland — to raise that cash. In my view, the last real educator as president was the late Earle T. Hawkins, who held office during my freshman year there of 1968-69. After that, the imperial presidency of Richard M. Nixon in Washington was mirrored on campus by that of James L. Fisher. When he opened the first fund-raising vehicle on campus -— the Auburn House — and then moved his own residence off campus. It's been all downhill from there, with an new and more costly mansion being purchased and upgraded off campus for greater fundraising.

Before we inaugurate the next TU president, I'd like to see published the exact figures of how many Marylanders attend TU, as opposed to those students from out of state. Charity begins at home, and we pay taxes for it. The rush to ever more expensive bricks and mortar over the last four decades, I hope, has been matched by an excellence in the graduates produced therefrom. I truly wonder.

Blaine Taylor, Towson

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