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Judge rejects proposal to merge University of Baltimore into Morgan State

A federal judge rejected a proposal to merge University of Baltimore into Morgan State.

A U.S. District Court judge rejected Tuesday a proposal to merge the University of Baltimore into Morgan State University, calling it "extreme."

Judge Catherine C. Blake is overseeing the mediation between a coalition of representatives of the state's historically black colleges and the Maryland Higher Education Commission. The coalition of HBCU representatives alleged that the state had systematically underfunded historically black colleges and that traditionally white colleges had unfairly duplicated their programs.

In 2013, Blake ruled that there had been unfair program duplication and urged the parties to enter mediation to determine a solution.

Blake wrote in an order Tuesday that an evidentiary hearing would be necessary to determine the appropriate remedies. She wrote that the state's proposals to address the duplication were "neither adequate nor sufficiently specific," but said the coalition's ideas for creating niche areas of program concentration in high-demand fields "appear promising but need more thorough discussion."

An attorney for the coalition did not return a phone call late Tuesday.

Blake wrote that the coalition's proposal to have Morgan take over UB "would not be considered further."

"It is apparent from the current record that such a merger is neither educationally sound nor practicable; any numerical benefit as to the racial identifiability of the resulting student body would be outweighed by its academic and financial cost," she wrote.

Morgan State University President David Wilson said the state "missed an important opportunity to correct a major flaw in its higher education system around the city of Baltimore.

"In her ruling, Judge Blake recommended that mechanisms should be put in place to ensure program duplication would not occur again. It seems to me that merging UB into Morgan State University would be a viable strategy to bring about that outcome."

UB president Kurt L. Schmoke said in a statement that he was pleased with the judge's decision. "We look forward to working with all parties to resolve the complex issues that are now before the court," he said.

An earlier version misstated how the entities' proposals were described in the judge's order. The Sun regrets the error.

cwells@baltsun.com

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