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UMCP engineering enrollment rising with high rankingAs...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

UMCP engineering enrollment rising with high ranking

As former dean of the Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park, I have been interested in the debate over whether University of Maryland, Baltimore County should be allowed to offer an undergraduate electrical engineering degree over the objections of Morgan State University.

While I do not wish to take sides either way in the debate itself, I am concerned about some statements by participants that misrepresent the status of electrical engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park.

In particular, I have seen articles and letters in the past week in The Sun that erroneously state that enrollment in electrical engineering at College Park has declined in recent years.

In fact, from 1989-1990 to last year, enrollment in what is now the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering has risen BY more than 38 percent, from 722 to 997.

In 1997, we began offering the computer engineering major within that department, and today more than 330 of the undergraduates in the department are majoring in computer engineering. We expect total enrollment in the department to reach or exceed 1,100 in the coming academic year.

The Clark School of Engineering is currently ranked 17th nationally (and 10th among public higher-education institutions) by U.S. News and World Report, and the university's programs in electrical and computer engineering and computer science are the largest and the only nationally ranked programs in the region.

The current debate is, in one sense, a positive sign that we as a state recognize the importance of electrical and computer engineering to the future economic health of the state and the region.

We at College Park want everyone to know that we are more than meeting our obligation as the flagship university for the state.

William W. Destler

College Park

Investment in schools affords long-term savings

Barry Rascovar's column ("Glendening has chance to be hero," July 9) hit many nails right on the head, most importantly, that Parris Glendening has a historic opportunity to craft a remarkable legacy as Maryland's "education governor."

The cost of improving education for Baltimore's, and all of Maryland's, less advantaged children only appears high. The cost of perpetually building and staffing new prisons, drug treatment facilities, teen parent centers and other inevitable residue of inadequate education is truly high, and perpetual.

Improved education may not be free, but in a world information economy, the fiscal and social costs of ignorance are horrific. It isn't just that Baltimore can no longer afford poor schools, or that Maryland can no longer afford poor schools, or even that America can no longer afford them. It is that no developed nation can afford failing schools.

The educational needs of disadvantaged students and schools must not be allowed to turn into an "us vs. them" issue. What the governor, the Thornton Commission on School Funding, the state legislature and the courts must craft is a long-term "win-win" solution. Maryland's children need a workable solution that is good for and fair to the poor kids and their teachers in Western Maryland, the Eastern Shore, Montgomery County and Baltimore City.

Sam Stringfield

Baltimore

The writer is a member of the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners.

New Testament objects to women in leadership

Your July 13 editorial "First female bishop" gushed approval of the Rev. Vashti McKenzie's installment as a high-ranking leader in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The editorial states: "She will now be an inspiration for other denominations still resisting top leadership roles for women clergy."

Who could object to a promotions policy so progressive, so inclusive and so diverse? Only those who take seriously the sacred New Testament writings of the Apostle Paul.

In his first epistle to Timothy, for example, Paul wrote: "But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence."

The Sun' s applause is unobjectionable if religious institutions are viewed as businesses like any other. In that event, they cannot legitimately maintain a "stained glass ceiling."

On this question of leadership roles for women in the Christian church, individual believers will have to decide whether we will follow the Apostle Paul or The Sun.

Gregory L. Lewis

Baltimore

Should Capitol be razed because of slave labor?

The NAACP should extend its campaign to remove all symbols remotely connected to slavery instead of just flags.

The building of the national Capitol comes to mind. Out of 650 laborers used to build it, 400 were slaves whose owners were paid $5 a month.

This was continued until 1865 by Abraham Lincoln, who was president of a nation where slavery was illegal and, according to current historical revisionists, was fighting a war against slavery.

Certainly, then, the Capitol should be torn down and relocated in a more appropriate location.

William D. Townsend

Timonium

Missile defense system absolute waste of money

As a taxpayer, I protest the use of billions of dollars of our hard-earned money to build a national missile defense system that was considered questionable back in the Reagan era, when the Cold War offered a possible rationale for such a system ("Missile defense supporters still hopeful after failed test," July 9).

Now that the Cold War is over and we are trading with China and assisting Russia in rebuilding its economy, to continue developing such a system seems to be an absolute waste of money.

When welfare mothers spend their government paychecks for unnecessary luxury items there is a great hue and cry among taxpayers and government agencies that their funds should be cut off.

It is time to speak out against the misuse of funds by the defense contractors who will profit most from the continuation of this useless system.

Cut off the corporate welfare that inflates our U.S. military budget far beyond the military spending of other nations. Let the White House know we would support the decision to reject proceeding on national missile defense.

Phyllis S. Yingling

Baltimore

Police duty requires acceptance of sacrifices

The article "Officer refuses to cut dreadlocks" (July 13) referred to the Rastafarian religion. It originated in Africa and speaks out against poverty, oppression and inequality -- but only when these problems involve blacks.

Babylon is the Rastafarian term for the white political power structure that has been holding the black race down for centuries. The dreadlocks mentioned symbolize Rasta roots, contrasting with the straight blond hair of white men.

I realize that almost any organized belief can be considered a religion, and this is no different. But, if the officer was truly practicing this religion when he was accepted into the Police Academy, then why did he wait years to start making waves? If he is allowed to grow his hair as he wishes, what will be the next complaint?

Prior to entering the academy you are made aware of the requirements to be a police officer. A lot of officers would like to be off to attend religious services on Saturdays, Sundays or attend other functions according to their religion -- but it just isn't possible.

If the only problem I had as a police officer is that they were picking on me about my hair, I wouldn't have a problem.

Albert Franklin Hunt Jr.

Halethorpe

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