Morgan needs its own board — but the board needs new blood

The Sun editorial page asks "Should Morgan State have it's own board?" (Feb. 10). The answer is yes, it should. Ever since 1989 when Morgan students demonstrated for such independence, the school has successfully operated as an independent state university. This model has served the state along with Morgan students, faculty and alumni very well.

Can Morgan, like any other institution, be improved? The obvious answer is yes. The school needs to return its focus to academic excellence and make selectivity of students a greater priority than the enrollment number. Standardized test scores need to be a slightly greater factor in the baseline for accepting new students, even if this results in a slightly smaller school enrollment. Morgan needs to increase its competitiveness for federal research dollars, and it needs to broaden its philanthropic base of supports.

Such needed reforms, and others, all start from the top. The current and past members of the Morgan State University Board of Regents have done an excellent job producing the solid foundation upon which Morgan currently sits. However, for Morgan to thrive, not just survive, as an independent state university there needs to be an ongoing influx of new leaders (i.e. board members) with fresh ideas, management approaches and philanthropic connections.

Currently board members serve six year terms with no limit on the number of terms they can serve. I personally found this to be an issue, and when I inquired about it with others, I learned that I was not alone with this concern. So with the support of Del. Nathaniel T. Oaks and Sen. Catherine E. Pugh, I drafted legislation for this current Maryland General Assembly session (HB238 and SB266) that will change the terms of the board members to five years and add a limit of no more than two consecutive terms of service.

These bills are focused on the long-term direction of Morgan State University. They help establish that membership to Morgan's Board of Regents is an open opportunity to serve for those interested in sharing their time, talent and energy. These bills represent minor tweaks to the model Morgan State University operates under and will go along way to improving the school. A complete overhaul, like putting Morgan under the University of System of Maryland, is the wrong approach.

Chris Blake, Windsor Mill

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