UM regents revive old discussion about merging 2 campuses


COLLEGE PARK -- A campus merger pronounced dead by the University of Maryland System Board of Regents is back on the drawing board after nudging from the state secretary of higher education. But the state university system's governing panel yesterday flatly ruled out even talking about a second merger proposed by Secretary Shaila R. Aery.

The regents' education policy committee voted unanimously yesterday to allow Chancellor Donald N. Langenberg to investigate the costs and benefits of merging the University of Maryland's professional schools campus in Baltimore with its Baltimore County campus.

Regents privately considered the merger in the summer of 1989 but dropped the idea after it prompted the resignations of the president-elect of the UMAB campus, Augustus White, and the chairman of the regents, Peter O'Malley. Three months later, the regents rejected a merger between UMBC and a third school, the University of Baltimore, after a $100,000 consultant's study said it would create more headaches than it was worth.

This time, the chancellor is proposing that the regents hold public hearings this fall and solicit opinion from the business community, other organized groups, elected officials and the Maryland Higher Education Commission, the state education planning body.

If the idea is approved by the full regents panel as expected nextmonth, a report would be due Oct. 31.

Also yesterday, the regents flatly rejected even discussing a merger between Coppin State College in Baltimore, part of the UM system, and Morgan State University, which has its own board of trustees.

Regent Albert N. Whiting said the idea would violate a 1988 law which created the state university system and was meant to enhance historically black colleges.

"Merging the two does not and cannot equate with the enhancement of each," he said.

The Maryland Higher Education Commission approved the proposal, and the creation of a statewide task force to study it, as part of a master plan for higher education earlier this month.

Dr. Whiting, former chancellor of North Carolina Central University, said the plan's rigid view of the missions of each campus and budgets based on those missions would stop black colleges from ever growing "beyond their current role, scope, mission and classification."

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