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Legal Battle for Underfunded HBCUs in Maryland Continues

Gov. Larry Hogan was the keynote speaker for the 2016 Honors Convocation at Morgan State University. (Joe Andrucyk/Maryland GovPics/Flickr)
Gov. Larry Hogan was the keynote speaker for the 2016 Honors Convocation at Morgan State University. (Joe Andrucyk/Maryland GovPics/Flickr)
November 26, 2018

BALTIMORE — A 12-year lawsuit filed by Maryland's four historically black colleges and universities against the state will continue in December, with both sides preparing for oral arguments.

The four institutions - Bowie, Coppin and Morgan State Universities and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore - say they have been underfunded, while programs they've instilled to attract more diverse students have been duplicated by traditionally white institutions in the state. This makes growth difficult for HBCUs, according to Mike Jones, an attorney repressing the schools.

"This makes it more difficult for the schools to, number one, attract a diverse student body,” Jones said; “makes it more challenging for them to develop business partnerships of the kind that can bring in funds."

Earlier this year, the schools declined an offer of $100 million over 10 years made by Gov. Larry Hogan, saying the funds were inadequate and the issue goes beyond money. Hogan's legal team said the financial commitment went beyond what the law required.

Jones brought up other states to explain why Gov. Hogan's offer wasn't sufficient. Mississippi agreed to pay its three HBCUs $500 million over 20 years after a Supreme Court desegregation decision in 1992.

Jones said the case must be resolved soon. He said the lack of resources has made it difficult for students to be successful on their own campuses. And it has led them, in some cases, to traditionally white institutions, or TWIs.

"Students at the HBCUs, because the libraries were inadequate, they would have to go over to one of the TWIs,” he said. “For example, sometimes the people from Coppin would go over to UMBC."

Oral arguments are set for December 11, with the Circuit Court expected to make a decision on further action within the following few months.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - MD