Coppin has made the tough decisions that will ensure its future

Regarding your recent editorial about our school, for nearly the last five years, I have had the distinct privilege of serving as president and CEO of Coppin State University ("Which way Coppin?" July 25).

Our faculty, staff, and administration have worked tirelessly to provide an opportunity for students to receive a quality education. A majority of our students are first generation college students. They come from families who have not experienced the challenge of college life or had the opportunity to achieve a college degree. Our mission is to provide that opportunity.

The challenges facing higher education today are enormous. Concerns surrounding fiscal resources, educational trends, the Dream Act, college affordability, student loans, the roles and risks associated with athletics and online education touch most institutions in one manner or another. It is a challenge to successfully navigate the countless issues that face every college or university.

In order to both live in the present and plan strategically for the future, difficult decisions must be made that impact individuals and programs. In partnership with the University System of Maryland's Board of Regents, we have made a number of progressive moves to meet the demands of the present and the future for Coppin State University.

I am pleased to report that we have made significant strides forward in several areas. A new School of Business has been created to meet the demand of the current work force. In addition, our renowned Helene Fuld School of Nursing has expanded to accommodate our students' desire to enter the health care field.

The College of Health Professions has also expanded into the field of health information management, a growing academic major that is in high demand across the health-care industry. Another point of pride for Coppin is in the area of science, technology, engineering and math development, specifically nanotechnology. Recently, Coppin associate professor of natural science Jamal Uddin was selected by the University System of Maryland to receive the prestigious Elkins Professorship for his work with STEM initiatives.

Programmatically, we are sound and growing. Fiscally, we needed to close a gap. Through an intensive study by the University's Budget Committee, made up of representatives from the faculty, staff, administration, and student body, several recommendations were made to address the financial demands of the university. In addition, an institutional consultant provided input into ways to increase campus efficiencies.

In order to meet the university's financial demands, downsizing the staff became necessary. Coppin must make difficult decisions that impact its future, as do families, businesses and government institutions across Maryland and the nation.

Today there are nearly 200 bright, eager students on campus who are participating in our summer bridge program. They will start their freshman semester in a few weeks with nearly nine credit hours of university work.

These young people represent future lawyers, doctors, dancers, designers, managers, scientists, nurses and perhaps a future college president. The decisions we have made related to the budget are meant to ensure their future.

Reginald S. Avery, Baltimore

The writer is president of Coppin State University.

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