Calling education and employment his top priorities, Gov. Parris N. Glendening promised Harford County residents that he would try to make Maryland a leader in teaching and creating jobs in technology.
"We must take action to ensure that Maryland will have the skills necessary to meet the needs of employers of the 21st century," the governor said Friday in addressing about 300 members and guests of the Harford County Democratic Central Committee at a benefit in Edgewood.
He gave a similar pep talk on technological readiness later at the county's new Higher Education and Technology (HEAT) Center near Aberdeen.
The governor said three subjects would dominate his administration: education, job creation and making communities safe.
While Mr. Glendening spoke more about the need for technological jobs and training, he drew the loudest reaction when he advocated expelling troublesome adolescents from school.
"We must deal with the issue of violent and disruptive students in our schools," he said to loud applause from the guests at the $25-a-plate breakfast at the Richlin Ballroom.
Noting that Maryland may lose from 50,000 to 100,000 jobs as the federal government cuts back, he said the state must make a strong effort to compete for technical jobs in the private sector.
After the benefit, the governor took a look at the new HEAT Center on Route 22 near Aberdeen, where he said some of his educational initiatives could take root.
The campus will officially open its first building next month.
The center is a joint venture of Harford and Cecil community colleges, the state, Harford County and several colleges and universities in the Baltimore metropolitan area.
To date, six colleges and universities in the Baltimore area have joined the partnership, agreeing to offer courses toward graduate and technical degrees this fall.
They are the College of Notre Dame, Loyola College, Morgan State and Towson State universities, the University of Baltimore and the University of Maryland at Baltimore.
Programs will be offered in business, nursing, education, engineering, communication and criminal justice.
Mr. Glendening said the college programs will provide specialized and sophisticated training. The students will come away equipped to fill specialized, high-paying jobs on the cutting edge of technology, he said.
County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann gave the governor a quick tour of the center's new Distance Learning Center, a classroom dominated by the latest electronic gadgetry that allows students and teachers to communicate across the miles via video screens and microphones.
The center will mesh with the governor's plans to create four to five regional career technology centers at community colleges throughout Maryland, he said.
While he stopped short of naming Harford's new facility as one of those centers, he did say that "the HEAT Center provides an excellent model for other institutions to follow."
"The HEAT Center will help define the future of higher education in Maryland," he said.