EducationHamil R. HarrisLocal

Maryland HBCU Presidents Celebrate Historic Lawsuit Settlement

Battle Waged over 15 Years about Higher Education Discrimination

For 15 years administrators at four historically black colleges in the state of Maryland have fought over a system that made sure that that they didn’t get the money and resources that they needed.

But this week the presidents of Morgan State, Coppin State and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore joined their colleague at Bowie State to sign a historic agreement with the governor of Maryland to end decades of discrimination.

“We are here to enact a historic, bipartisan measure that will be an unprecedented step forward in addressing inequities in our higher education system by making additional substantial investments in Maryland’s historically Black colleges and universities,” said Hogan who was joined by Senate President Bill Ferguson, House Speaker Adrienne Jones and Lt. Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford.

Bowie State University President Aminta Breaux hosted the event that she called “a historic bill signing alongside our fellow Maryland HBCUs, concluding 15 years of advocacy to correct inequitable state funding.”

Coppin State President Anthony L. Jenkins tweeted, “With gratitude we thank @GovLarryHogan who signed SB1 HB1 (the HBCU Bill) into law, ensuring $577M over 10 years in state resources for Maryland’s four HBCUs”.

Morgan State University President David Wilson also hailed March 24 as a “historic day.”

“After 15 years of litigation, settlement is finally reached,” he said. “With the $20 million or so coming to Morgan, we will mount a few degree programs to be in alignment with the human work of the future. I wanted to make sure the signature was in non-erasable ink!”

University of Maryland Eastern Shore President Heidi Anderson expressed her gratitude grateful to Hogan for signing the $577 million settlement bill. “It will provide #UMES $9.6 million annually in additional funding over the next 10 years!”

The legislation brings to an end a 15-year-long legal battle in the state between the HBCUs and the predominantly white institutions over the most equitable way to allocate programs that were often duplicated in both types of schools.

“No governor in the history of the state has ever invested more in Maryland’s HBCUs,” Hogan said at the press conference. “Our administration has advanced more than a billion dollars in major projects at all four HBCUs in Maryland, including for the new Communication, Arts, and Humanities building here at Bowie State.”

The lawsuit alleged that by duplicating programs, the state of Maryland was undermining its own HBCU programs, and in the last two years, Hogan argued that the black colleges were getting too much money.

But according to the bill in the fiscal year 2023 fiscal year, the state will provide $57.7 million between the four universities based on student enrollment. Morgan State will receive $24 million in the first year, Bowie State $16.8 million, Eastern Shore $9.7 million, and Coppin State $9 million.

The bulk of this money will go to the institutions’ permanent source of revenue which is called the endowment. But even with this new money the HBCUs still trail the state’s majority white institutions in terms of their endowment.

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Hamil R. Harris

Hamil Harris is an award-winning journalist who worked at the Washington Post from 1992 to 2016. During his tenure he wrote hundreds of stories about the people, government and faith communities in the Greater Washington Area. Hamil has chronicled the Million Man March, the Clinton White House, the September 11 attack, the sniper attacks, Hurricane Katrina, the campaign of President Barack Obama and many other people and events. Hamil is currently a multi-platform reporter on the Local Desk of the Washington Post where he writes a range of stories, shoots photos and produces videos for the print and online editions of the Post. In addition, he is often called upon to report on crime, natural disasters and other breaking issues. In 2006 Harris was part of a team of reporters that published the series “Being a Black Man.” He was also the reporter on the video project that accompanied the series that won two Emmy Awards, the Casey Medal and the Peabody Award. Hamil has lectured at Georgetown University, George Washington University, Howard University, the American University, the University of Maryland and the University of the District of Columbia. He also lectures several times a year to interns during their semester in the District as part of their matriculation at the Consortium of Christian Colleges and Universities.

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