Judge Says Maryland Colleges Have “Segregative Effects”

A federal judge has ruled that Maryland shortchanged the state's four historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) by unnecessarily duplicating their programs at nearby predominantly white institutions.

In a ruling issued Monday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, Judge Catherine Blake wrote that the duplication of academic programs was part of an earlier dual system of higher education in the state.

Blake said the practice puts the black schools at a competitive disadvantage and has "segregative effects."

Blake also faulted the state for undermining unique, in-demand programs at HBCUs -- such as Morgan State's MBA program and Bowie State's Masters in computer science -- by establishing competing programs at other nearby universities, causing program enrollment to drop at the HBCUs.

The ruling comes after a six-week trial early this year.

The Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Higher Education had sued the Maryland Higher Education Commission in 2006 on behalf of students and alumni from Maryland's four HBCUs.

"We are elated," said David Burton, president of the Coalition, in a statement. "The very reason the coalition was created was after the state undermined and duplicated Morgan's MBA program. We sought to prevent the marginalization of the [HBCUs] and wanted them to have academic programs that are attractive to students and properly supported by faculty, facilities and other resources."

Blake deferred judgment and recommended that the parties begin mediation to remedy the situation.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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