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Morgan inadequately funded? Not lately

David Wilson, center, president of Morgan State University, greets students on their first day back on campus in the fall of 2015.
David Wilson, center, president of Morgan State University, greets students on their first day back on campus in the fall of 2015. (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

It’s the start of a new legislative session and, with it, Morgan State University President David Wilson’s claim in “Despite obstacles, Morgan State University soars” (Jan. 14) that “despite inadequate investments, Morgan has historically produced top-ranked programs and graduates.” Without questioning Morgan’s programs or graduates, the issue of Morgan’s underfunding compared to other state universities is open to scrutiny.

A comparison of Towson University’s funding shows the contrast. According to the Morgan’s “2015 Facility Planning Master Plan,” “...over the last 10 years, projects have been completed and/or initiated totally nearly $500 million.” Additionally, the document states that “…the University’s FY 2015 five-year request includes funding to initiate projects totally nearly $600 million.” For those counting, that’s $1.1 billion over 15 years. In terms of specifics, by comparison, Towson has had one new academic building since 1974 and just broke ground on its second. As a further contrast, while Morgan last year opened its second new School of Business building since 1990, Towson’s School of Business is in iconic Stephens Hall, the first building on the Towson campus. Thus, the question is which university is underfunded, Towson or Morgan?

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A review of the operating budget for Morgan shows that Morgan received $85 million from the state in 2015 in support of a student body of 7,700 students, or over $1 million per thousand students. By contrast, Towson’s operating budget shows $106 million in state funds in 2015 in support of student body of 22,000. That’s 20 percent more state funds for three times the student body. Again, the question, which university is underfunded?

For obvious reasons, Morgan continues to use the “race card” to claim they are underfunded and garner more resources from the state and yet remains almost exclusively a “Historically Black” institution. Maybe, as an alternative to making program and resource decisions almost solely on what Morgan wants and its claims of being underfunded, it’s time for the state legislature and policy makers in higher education to listen to the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. when he dreamed of the day when men “…would not be judged by the color of their skin but the content of their character.”

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Thomas Maronick, Baltimore

The writer is emeritus professor of marketing at Towson University.

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