Morgan President Again Fights Budding Competitor

Jason Song, Baltimore Sun, June 13

Earl S. Richardson, Morgan State University’s tenacious president, is trying once again to keep another college from starting a new program.

And once again, he’s basing his argument on Maryland’s segregated past.

This time, Richardson is trying to stop Towson University from offering a Master’s of Business Administration degree, saying students ought to get their MBAs at Morgan instead.

Allowing Towson to begin an MBA program would give white students another reason not to attend his historically black school, he says, and thus perpetuate an old system of racial segregation.

“Morgan takes no pleasure in doing this, but the system must be equitable,” Richardson says.

He has had success with this argument before.

In the past five years, Richardson has four times stopped public universities in Maryland from launching new programs by pointing to an agreement Maryland entered in 1992 with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, which requires that the state encourage students to attend historically black universities by not duplicating programs they offer.

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Richardson, 61, Morgan’s president for the past two decades, is arguing from a position of strength. In 2000, he and Morgan squelched four programs that had initially won the approval of state officials. Morgan opposed a master’s program in history and a doctoral education program at Towson, saying they mirrored programs at Morgan. Morgan also blocked a graduate business program at UB and an electrical engineering program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

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Richardson also says that Morgan historically has been underfunded by the state and as a result has not been able to build top-notch facilities to attract students. McMechen Hall, where most business classes are held, was built in 1972, school officials note.

“Equal funding won’t get us where we need to go. We need a massive infusion of funds,” Richardson says. “It’s an issue of fairness.”

When asked how much money it would take to get Morgan on equal footing, Richardson shrugs. “A lot,” he says.

According to a recent state survey, Morgan received $185 million in capital funding from the state from 1989 to 2003, ranking the college fourth among the state’s 13 public campuses.

“Just look at the numbers and then tell me if he’s underfunded,” says H. Mebane Turner, former president of the University of Baltimore.

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