Towson University head says he'll retire in 2001; Smith has spent 20 years as president


Hoke L. Smith, the fiercely competitive president of Towson University, said yesterday that he will retire in 2001.

Smith, 68, made the announcement in his annual State of the University address to the staff and students. He said giving the university 21 months' notice will provide it with "time to prepare for an orderly change in the presidency."

Enrollment at Maryland's second-largest campus, behind the University of Maryland, College Park, jumped from 12,000 to 16,000 during Smith's 20-year tenure and is expected to reach 20,000 within four years. Once a normal school for the education of teachers, Towson remains the state's largest producer of instructors.

Smith has fought tirelessly for faculty and students. Early this year, he threatened to pull out of the University System of Maryland if he and other presidents did not receive more management flexibility and state funding. He said Towson had received 1.8 percent of the university system's construction money over 10 years, despite a 25 percent enrollment increase.

Smith's threat angered several high-ranking state education officials, but the General Assembly passed legislation giving Smith much of what he had demanded.

System Chancellor Donald N. Langenberg praised Smith yesterday for his "steady hand, big heart and sharp mind." A search for a successor will begin shortly, Langenberg said.

In his speech yesterday, Smith said Towson will be forced to limit enrollment of traditional undergraduates because "we are out of classroom space," especially during busy daytime hours.

Room is available to expand graduate programs, he said, because graduate students tend to be part-timers who attend evening and weekend classes.

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