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Local LendingThe Sun's headline writer and, to...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Local Lending

The Sun's headline writer and, to a lesser extent, writer David Conn erred in reporting June 9 that the Maryland Alliance for Responsible Investment (MARI) had filed a protest with federal regulators to "oppose" the acquisition of MNC Financial by NationsBank.

As Mr. Conn's article correctly noted, NationsBank has agreed to live up to the terms of an existing community reinvestment agreement, presently between MARI and Maryland National Bank.

That agreement expires in March, 1995, giving MARI about 18 months to work with the new management and, we hope, to negotiate a long-term continuation of innovative lending programs pioneered by Maryland National.

To get this new relationship off to a good footing, MARI decided not to oppose the merger.

Nonetheless, MARI does have serious concerns about the merger, which we stated in a brief comment letter filed with the Federal Reserve.

Chiefly, we are troubled by NationsBank's refusal to extend the MNB-MARI agreement beyond its present deadline, because we believe the agreement has been the driving force behind MNB's superior performance as a community lender.

Under that agreement, more than $66 million has been lent in the form of mortgages for low- and moderate-income households, small-business loans and credit for developers of low-income housing.

The need for these types of lending will not evaporate when the agreement expires. If anything, the bigger, stronger bank that will result from this merger should be expected to do much more than MNB has been able to do.

MARI is also concerned about the potential impact of centralized, out-of-state management on programs that have been developed to meet specific local needs and conditions.

Lending needs vary greatly from community to community, especially within so vast an empire as NationsBank now commands. We are hopeful that NationsBank will see the wisdom of leaving most, if not all, of MNB's community lending program intact.

George Buntin Jr.

Baltimore

The writer is the chairman of the Maryland Alliance for Responsible Investment.

Untranslatable

Among recent and repetitious descriptions from and about Lani Guinier are these: "misquoted," "out of context," "misunderstood," "distorted," "mischaracterizations."

If she wishes to eat her own words, she should say so. But she wrote in English and needs no translation from her or her advocates.

Turning briefly from English, an old legal Latin maxim says, Res ipsa loquitur.

The thing speaks for itself.

John O. Herrmann

Baltimore

Racism

The editorial of June 11, "New Tack Needed in Racism Battle," does not go far enough. As long as we continue to promote such groups as the NAACP or the Congressional Black Caucus, we continue to aggravate racism.

The Black Caucus is the most blatant offender. These members of Congress were elected to represent all of the people in their districts. Instead they band together to promote their own kind of racism, in the name of legislation and good government.

Affirmative action by its own definition and implementation means legislated racism.

Carl Snowden and Jesse Jackson have their own agenda that rarely has anything to do with discrimination. They use these incidents to perform in the spotlight of free publicity.

We can't be afraid to point out that blacks can and do promote racism as much as whites.

You cannot force or legislate a concept on people. A new tack is indeed needed.

C. D. Wilmer

Baltimore

Uplifting Story

On any typical day, it is not uncommon to find on the front page of the paper stories of politicians posturing, proclamations being refuted or rescinded after additional information is brought to light, and people and populations being decimated in the name of religion or greed or pursuing the "right and just" cause.

How blessedly refreshing and uplifting it was to find the story of a young man who had lost all his hair while undergoing chemotherapy. The teen was a high school senior and his classmates, in a show of support, shaved their heads with dog shears.

Anyone familiar with teenagers knows the importance of fitting in and looking "the right way," the same as all the rest of teenagers.

After reading this story, sandwiched between all the negative news, we do have reason to rejoice in "man's humanity to man."

Deborah Egerton

Sparks

Free Baltimore Universities from College Park

It was with great interest that I read the article in The Sun (July 4) on the University of Maryland system. I think, however, that one of the main problems with the UM system is its artificial equilibrium. Let me explain.

The University of Maryland College Park is the "flagship" of the system. As such, it is artificially supported to a level greater than the other schools in the system.

The board of regents is so determined that no school in Maryland will eclipse UMCP that they retard the development of other schools.

The best example of this can be seen at Towson State University. Five years ago, Towson was nationally recognized as an "up and coming" university in such publications as U.S. News and World Report. Then it joined the UM system. Since then, its fortunes have gone downhill.

Just this past year, you may recall, the board wanted to cut Towson's chemistry and physics departments. Towson avoided this by the narrowest of margins, and only through the concentrated efforts of the students, faculty and parents.

Where was the money thus saved to go? Why, to UMCP, naturally. UMCP was to get a new theater, to replace the existing one which was "too small."

The only problem with this rationalization is that the new theater was only 100 seats larger than the existing one.

Such attacks are a fact of life at the other 10 schools in the system, with Towson being singled out because it is a better school than College Park. Of all the schools in Maryland, including private schools such as Johns Hopkins and Loyola, TSU has the highest percentage of classes being taught by full professors. TSU receives more applications per available spot than UMCP, and is recognized nationwide as a top educator.

Why is it being denied? The reasons are obvious. UMCP is the "flagship." How would it look if the flagship were eclipsed by some second-rate school from the boonies?

Second, Towson suffers from the fact that its excellence is more widely recognized outside of Maryland than within its borders. -- Many scholars receive a first-rate education at TSU, and then return to their own states, leaving the school with a lack of local advocates.

Finally, UMBC was designed to be the northern counterbalance to UMCP, but Towson is the school that actually fulfills that function. Resources are thus split between TSU and UMBC, weakening each school's ability to function as it should.

(Did you know that a portion of the student fees paid by Towson State students goes directly to UMCP? The rationale is that the money is being spent on the UM system as a whole, but the effect is that Towson students pay for services that they never receive.)

One solution is obvious. Liberal arts programs should be moved from UMBC and concentrated at TSU. The school would then be within 8,000 students of UMCP, and true competition would result.

Each university would excel in its own way, with UMCP retaining its lead in computer science and mathematics, while Towson could concentrate on education, business and dramatic arts. UB and UMAB would train our future lawyers, and the former UMBC would become a technical school of international recognition, modeled on the success of such schools as MIT and Cal Tech. The satellite schools, such as Frostburg and Salisbury, would fulfill regional needs.

In this way, Maryland could lead the nation in progressive management of higher education. We have within our grasp the chance to realize the vision of five years ago, but we will have to shed existing preconceptions to reach this goal.

It should be obvious that the bureaucracy that is being pointed to as the reason for our failure thus far is indeed a factor. But it is not the root of the problem. An innovative new direction is called for, based on the prevailing market economy. Only then will the true potential of our schools be reached.

Dave Walcher

Towson

D8 The writer is an alumnus of Towson State University.

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